Vacation costs

Don't Let Gas Prices Put the Brakes on Your Summer Road Trip

Despite drastic increases in fuel costs, South Floridians are encouraged to continue with their summer plans— just differently.

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While many prefer to load up in a car and experience their vacations one mile and one pitstop at a time, the rapidly increasing price of fuel has become an obvious and seemingly unavoidable roadblock to these summer trips. But maybe it doesn't have to be this way.

For months, there has been a nationwide rise in the cost of gas — one that is not expected to relent in the near future. This increase has resulted in the disruption of many people's standard way of life, from how they travel to work to how they manage their finances.

Though it may seem as if long-distance drives are undoubtedly out of the question amidst the price changes, there are many ways to plan the perfect summer road trip without breaking the bank.

When thinking of road trips, many often picture days upon days of traveling through major cities and across state borders to reach their final destination. South Florida, however, is central to many short-distance getaway spots that can be enjoyed just hours from departure.

What are some 'staycation' destination ideas in Florida?

For those looking to experience a relaxing beachfront escape, the Florida Keys is an excellent option for a "staycation" of sorts. Located just around an hour from the Miami area, the Keys is made up of several large islands, each with their own promises of adventure, relaxation, and fun: Key West, Lower Keys, Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo.

Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via Getty Images
Photo shows the iconic Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys that connects the Middle Keys to the Lower Keys and is among the longest bridges in the state.

While each of these destinations are just miles apart, they can feel like their own mini vacation, making the Keys a great choice for those who wish to explore a variety of places without filling a number of gas tanks.

Those who enjoy a more traditional sightseeing experience, St. Augustine is well admired by visitors for its rich history and many museums.

The popular tourist site, which is located a little under a five hour drive from Miami, is known as "the nation's oldest city" "in the heart of the historic district." St. Augustine is best suited for those who wish to experience a site of great national significance and continue their learning even after school lets out for the summer.

Photo shows St. Augustine's historic City Hall And Lightner Museum, which was built in 1888, that occupies the former iconic Alcazar Hotel. (Getty Images)

To those who will be making their drive equipped with a few car seats or squirmy children, Orlando's perfect placement in between Disney World and Universal Studios may be worth the three and a half hour drive it takes to get there from Miami.

Whether one is traveling to Orlando strictly for the theme parks or not, they are sure to find something to do in the buzzing city. Here, a popular tourist destination, there are many opportunities for thrill, dining, and leisure.

Though it is easy to overlook places such as these when they are only a few hour drive from your own home, the unfortunate raises in gas price may serve as an unforeseen opportunity to venture not farther from home, but closer to it. In doing so, it is likely that many will come across a destination they never would have thought to visit, but enjoyed nonetheless.

NBC 6's Steve Litz after the average prices for a gallon went up nearly 20 cents in Florida

How to calculate gas costs for road trips

In addition to deciding on a location in advance, there are tools that make it possible to budget ahead of time and start saving before the engine even begins.

For example, GasBuddy's Trip Cost Calculator creates an estimate of how much money a drive will cost depending on the distance and type of vehicle being driven. Of course, this tool is somewhat hindered by the constant changes in price, but it can be a good way to establish a ballpark cost before hitting the road to your next destination.

As well as this, the mobile GasBuddy app uses one's location to quickly scan all nearby gas prices and direct users towards the cheapest option. While on the road, this is a great way to ensure that one is getting the biggest deal to the greatest of destinations.

While the rise in gas prices has surely made summer road tripping more tedious, it has not made it impossible. With a little extra planning, creativity, and open-mindedness, South Floridians can take advantage of their prime location and explore the distances closest to them, one (expensive) mile at a time.

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