Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Road: Choosing Gas Stops

Shorepower-L.W.'s Pilot Travel Plaza-Perry, Utah 1
Shorepower-L.W.'s Pilot Travel Plaza-Perry, Utah 1 (Photo credit: TruckPR)
The first few years I take any trip, I keep an eye on the gas prices as I near the half tank mark. I like to choose exits that have several choices for fuel. My favorite is Pilot Travel Plaza because I have to enter my zip code when I make a purchase at the pump. I like that extra measure of security. Another thing I like about Pilot is I can check the gas prices for all of their stations online.

I write down the location of the station, the number of gallons and the expense. Once I get the gas I still watch the highway signs to see if that was the best price available. If not, I note the exit number and watch for that station on the return trip. For example, I was coming up to Exit 277 in Arizona where I normally get gas. I started watching the prices as I was driving east and noticed when I got to that exit, the cost was higher than the cost at the other exits. I did not stop there and kept watching those numbers. When I got to Exit 16 in Gallup, New Mexico, I found a good price and got gas. I checked the cost at exits after that one and determined I had made the correct choice by stopping at Exit 16. That will now become my exit of choice.

Another way to check gas prices is to use a phone app like Gas Buddy. Since I am traveling by myself, I do not have that luxury. I do not use phone apps while I am driving.

After several years of making the same trip, I have compiled my list of stations where I will always stop. I take into consideration the location, the cleanliness of the facility, my feeling of safety and what food is available. Now I do not have to wonder where I will stop because I already know where I will stop. I usually chose exits with at least two travel plazas since I do not like to stop at the smaller stations. I feel safer with more people around me.

I try to get gas at the half tank mark for two reasons. The first is I like to make myself get out of the car and stretch my legs. The second reason is I try to keep the tank that full in case I get struck in traffic.
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