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Voices of MainStreet: April Lee

I Ain’t ‘Fraid of No Gas Prices
April 21, 2011

“Nope, no summer vacation for me. I can’t afford to drive anywhere with gas prices like that,” the man at the bus stop said to me the other day. Every morning we wait for the bus together, indulging in small talk about the weather and how much lighter everything is now that spring has sprung. Yesterday, we were discussing gas prices, which are hovering around $4.10 in Seattle.

Just six years ago, a friend and I were planning to protest the gas prices when they passed the dollar mark. Now watching them cross the $4 threshold has left me confused. Is this really happening?

Every day I’m a little more grateful that I use public transportation, even though it doesn't make me immune to rising prices. At the beginning of 2011, Seattle saw its bus fare rise by a quarter.

There may not be plenty of road trips ahead, but I don’t think rising gas prices should affect how we take vacations this summer.

There are options. While it's easy for road trips to become expensive, no one wants to see their fun dampened by gas prices.

Here are a few quick reminders:

Carpool. Having more people to chip in for fees makes driving anywhere cheaper. Just make sure the people you have with you can be tolerated in small, confined spaces.

Pack meals. Eating on-the-go can be expensive, so take an extra half hour to pack sandwiches, veggies, fruits, chips or whatever else you might prefer. Your pocketbook will thank you.

Avoid tolls. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but Google Maps has made it easier to get around roads with tolls. Just remember that avoiding the tolls won't be that much cheaper if your alternate route takes longer and requires more gas.

Keep a spare tire handy. No one wants to get stuck on the side of the road paying a hefty fee for a tow truck and mechanic’s fees.

Budget. It’s easy to overspend, so take the 20 minutes to plan out expenses. It’s best to have an idea of how much you'll be spending.

Road trips and summer vacation are still possible and are meant to be enjoyed. “Stimulating the economy” is a great excuse.

—April is a well-traveled young woman planting her roots in sunny Seattle, or well, just Seattle. Her writing covers whatever piques her interest and curiousity. Check out her blog here.

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