If you’ve been driving around town recently, then you have most likely noticed that the price of gasoline is reaching historical levels. In our home state of California, the cost of regular gas is inching closer and closer to $7.00 per gallon.
And while the whole country is feeling the pinch of rising gas prices, few groups are more affected than us RV travelers. Compared to the average sedan or SUV, our vehicles have larger fuel tanks, poorer fuel economies, and are driven for thousands of more miles per year.
All these things put together mean that we pay considerably more at the fuel pump over the course of the year.
So in this post, we want to provide some of our best tips that we use to save as much as possible when it comes time to fill up at a gas station. We personally use each of these techniques and they have helped us save close to a thousand dollars already throughout our RV travels.
Google Maps Is Your Friend
The quickest and most effective way to save the most amount of money on gas is to use Google Maps. Yes, that’s right! Google maps does so much more than simply navigating you to your next destination. It’s also a valuable resource to find which gas stations around you have the lowest price gasoline.
When you first open up the Google Maps app on your phone, you’ll find a “Gas” icon near the top of your screen. Press the icon and you will instantly be shown an exhaustive list of gas stations within 30-40 miles from you.
But best of all, many of the gas stations will also list their current daily price/gallon for regular gas. In the screenshot below, you can see how gas prices in this particular region of California ranges from $6.06/gallon to as high as $6.80/gallon.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which gas station to stop at. But now you have access to this valuable information. For example, if you’re headed south on Interstate Highway 5, you now know that if you drive just a little further south, you can save $0.54/gallon by going to the ARCO station instead of the Chevron.
Get Gas When it’s Cheapest, Not When You Need It
During our travels in our vehicle, we will start looking for affordable gas even when our tank is still 75% full. That is because when there’s still fuel in your tank you’re not absolutely forced to fuel up at the very next station.
With gas still in the tank, you can afford to keep driving onwards if you can see on Google Maps that a better priced gas station is further ahead.
Along the same vein, if you’re currently on a major highway but plan to get off into the countryside or National Park territory, now would be a great time to top-up on gas, whether or not your RV actually needs it. Gas in the countryside can oftentimes be considerably more expensive than along major transport highways and routes.
For example, if you’re visiting either Death Valley National Park or Big Bend National Park, you should know that there is exactly ONE gas station within the boundaries of both of these parks and the cost was $2/gallon MORE than what you would pay on the highway.
Pay In Cash
If you’re like us here in the year 2022, then you are paying for most of your things using a credit card. It’s quick, convenient, and your purchases often give you points for future cash back! Using a credit card is a no-brainer under most instances.
However, we learned that buying your gas with cash can oftentimes provide more savings than using a credit card. Each gas station is different, but many do offer cash discounts by as much as 10%.
And since our credit card gives us 1.5% cash back, it’s been an easy choice to pay for our gas in cash, if a cash discount is provided. Just make sure to have enough cash on hand before you visit a gas station.
Join A Rewards Program
For RVers intent on squeezing out as much gas savings as possible, joining a gas rewards program is a great way to earn additional savings.
For example, we joined Shell’s ‘Fuel Rewards Program’. By joining this program, we get an instant $0.03-$0.05/gallon discount on gas at Shell stations. If you’re driving a Class A RV, this can save you $5 instantly off your bill if you fill up an entire tank.
However, we get additional fuel savings with our rewards program because we frequently shop at qualifying grocery stores (e.g. Fred Meyers, Kroger, QFC) that partner with the Fuel Rewards Program to get you additional discounts when gassing up.
After a big shop, it’s not uncommon for us to receive a $0.20/gallon discount at the pump.
Alternative Rewards Program: The Flying J/Pilot ‘myRewards’ program is another fantastic fuel rewards program. Not only do these gas stations already provide some of the cheapest gas around, but these stations are also RV friendly with large pull-through pump stations and places to dump gray & black water. So signing up for a ‘myRewards’ account is a great option.
Conclusion: Stack The Savings For The Best Results
We hope you learned a few new tips on how to save as much as you can while gassing up on the road.
Taken individually, each of the tips we provided above may not amount to much savings. But when we stack each of the individual savings together, we find that the savings can be considerable over time. This is especially true when long-hauling it across the country and putting in hundreds of miles on our odometer each day.
If we use Google Maps to strategically pick our gas stations, shop at the right grocery stores to feed our Fuel Rewards account, and pay cash where applicable, we can sometimes save as much as $0.50-$0.70 per gallon.
For our Ford Transit van, which has a 25 gallon fuel tank, that’s a potential savings of over $15 per tank of gas.
And for us, that is substantial savings.
Happy driving this summer season!
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For more campervan living & building tips, check out our blog: www.asobolife.com.
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