Editorials, Opinion

Finding the best gas prices while you’re traveling for Thanksgiving

If you’ve been to the gas station this week — or just driven past one — you likely noticed that gas prices are inching up. That’s to be expected: No matter the global situation or the cost of oil, the price at the pump always jumps during high-travel periods like holidays. Since today through Sunday are considered prime driving days, that’s about how long you can expect gas prices to be inflated; they’ll likely come down again next week.

Unfortunately, knowing why gas prices are higher doesn’t lessen the strain on your wallet. While we sadly don’t have a magic wand to wave to lower the cost at the pump or increase the gas mileage on your vehicle, we do have a couple tips that might save you a few dollars.

The most practical one is to shop around for the best price. There are a variety of apps that can help you either find the lowest priced pump or get you a discount at certain stations. However, the easiest way is just to use Google Maps. If you search for “gas” or “gas station” in Maps, you can see what gas stations are in your area or along your route and what the current price is at that station. (Note: If you’re using the Google Maps website instead of the app, you’ll likely have to click “search this area” at the top of the page if you move beyond the initial search area. In the app, it will automatically update as you zoom in and out of different areas.) You’d be amazed how vastly the prices can differ within a few miles or even between stations in close proximity. For example, there’s a gas station just off Interstate 79 between Morgantown and Fairmont that is consistently 10 cents to 30 cents cheaper than others.

This is more a warning than a saving tip, but pay close attention to the signs advertising the station’s price. Some stations have different prices for members or cardholders than for people paying with a regular credit card, and that price can be about 10 cents different. One price may be labeled “easy pay” or “member price” while the other is labeled “credit.” If you have a membership card, try to hold out to fill up at that brand’s pump to take advantage of the discount. (Google Maps can help you find the closest one.)

If you can, carpool with others. This isn’t always feasible, but if you can catch a ride with friends or family and split the cost of fuel (or alternate who pays), then you’ll not only save money, but you’ll do something good for the environment.

But no matter how you’re traveling, have patience. There will be a lot of traffic on the road and in the airports this year, so give yourself some extra time. Everyone is just trying to make it to their destination in one piece, so travel safely.