Gas Conscious Trips

22 May 2016
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Ya … I wish.
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Usually I just jump into my vehicle and drive wherever and it cost whatever it costs. I seldom look at the food bills or how much I paid for gas … why rain on the party, driving’s supposed to be fun.?

I travel back and forth from Victoria to Grande Prairie; sometimes through Calgary one or both ways. You (or at least I) get to thinking when I drive long distances like that and although I did notice that gas prices changed rather significantly sometimes, I wondered if there was a proper relationship between driving distances between major centers and the price.

Most vehicles are designed to go about 550 km between fills and as I have both a readout of “distance to empty’ and a GPS distance, I felt safe pushing a bit further than I normally would … somewhere just below the half a tank, I usually fuel up.

Let’s step back a wee bit. A few weeks ago I was in Victoria (where there is a $0.03 premium added to every liter for some bogus reason) and took a first in a few decades trip to Tofino and I thought that I’d monitor the fuel costs along the way, whether I bought any or not. By the time I left Chemainus the fuel price stabilized at 101.9 … and it stayed there all the way passed Port Alberni, down the paved trail winding around the various lakes, dodging rock cliffs on off kilter road surfaces at 60 kph, to Tofino … where it was still 101.9 ! Wow  … I was impressed.

With that trip in mind and a round trip to Grande Prairie via Calgary (both ways) in the works, instead of fueling up in Victoria (114.9) before leaving … or grabbing some in the lower mainland (120.9 … where there is also a surcharge of about $ 0.07) … a half a tank got me to Kamloops (108.9)  where I avoided the extra GFFA tax! Then as it turns out, I can drive all the way to Calgary (0.97.9), thereby missing the normal stops at Revelstoke or Golden where they have a not so friendly 119.9 for Regular.

Interestingly Alberta has the same discrepancies, although sometimes there’s a bigger difference across town than in the next town: Grande Prairie (90.9), Fox Creek (99.9), Whitecourt (98.9), Valleyview (102.9), Red Deer (89.4), Edmonton (89.9). For this trip it meant fueling at Edmonton on the way to Grande Prairie and in Red Deer on the way back made the best economic sense.

So after all the checking and calculations I have concluded that it was an interesting exercise and that if I fuel up at the right places, I might save about $35-40 on a 4000 km loop. Is it worth all the extra research looking into the nitty gritty of where to fuel up before every trip … naahhh …. I know how it works now, don’t fuel up in the middle … and if I’m going to buy a gas station, it will be in Revelstoke or Golden as they make an extra $0.20/liter every day of the week!

For those of you how really want to plan your trip by fuel costs, a website (and app) called GasBuddy, which I only remembered about AFTER the whole trip, is the best way to do it. They also have a summay of fuel taxes in Canada: http://www.bcgasprices.com/Can_Tax_Info.aspx

Use your Garmin … it’s likely better than the one in your vehicle.

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