Dear Driving for Dollars, 

My family is considering taking a long road trip to finish off the end of the summer, but I'm a little worried about gas prices and our overall fuel cost. It doesn't seem easy to calculate since we'll be traveling through many states and we are considering several routes. Do you have any ideas for a way to accurately estimate our fuel cost? 

- Dave

Dear Dave, 

Calculating fuel cost on your own can be a bit challenging in the situation you are describing since there are so many variables in place.

Here's what to do: Just go to the FuelEconomy.gov website with a list of the places you want to visit, and find the Environmental Protection Agency's My Trip Calculator. You can enter a list of the cities and towns where you want to stop, just like you would with most mapping software. You also can select the percentage of city and highway driving that you project. Then, enter the details about your car. You can enter up to three cars if you want to compare multiple vehicles. The site automatically uses the EPA estimated fuel economy for the cars you select. However, you can customize it with the miles per gallon you regularly get based on your driving style.

For your purpose, you'll want to keep the default fuel prices, as the calculator automatically pulls the average prices for each area and updates them weekly. But this also can be customized for people in areas where they are very certain of the gas prices.

Because of the mapping function, the calculator also eliminates the need for an additional map. You'll get turn-by-turn directions and a map, as well as the projected distance and driving time.

For tips on getting better gas mileage on your trip, see these four ways to improve your fuel economy.

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