Adjusting to the High Price of Gas

My mind is boggled by the rapidly increasing price of gas. This morning on the way to work, I noticed that the price at the Shell station was $4.09 for regular. On the way home, eight hours later, the price was up to $4.15. Six cents up in eight hours. I’m almost afraid to see what it will be on the way in tomorrow.

I’ve seen news stories about the rising prices and was pretty sure that prices would get over $4/gal. this summer, but I never dreamed it would go up as fast as it has. My guess is that things won’t be going down anytime soon, either. The rest of the world has had to deal with high prices for years already so it was only a matter of time before it hit us. We’re not immune to the same economic pressures as everyone else – and we tend to drive a lot in gas-guzzling vehicles.

My little Saturn doesn’t get the best mileage but after a rather pricey tuneup last month, I’m getting 24/31 mpg. The almost 9-year old car has just under 40,000 miles so obviously I’m not big on long car trips. I’d rather take the train, stay close, or fly.

Now, of course, flying is going to be equally ridiculous. I can’t imagine what a mess it’s going to be to try and fly in 6 months when schedules are significantly cut, forcing already crowded planes to be even more clogged. The idea of paying double the prices for tickets, plus paying for a checked bag, on top of crowded conditions and being treated like cattle just makes me cringe — and, to be honest, rethink how much I want to go to Texas for Christmas. Right now the answer would be, are you insane?

My mom and I were talking about this the other day and she reminded me that even when I was growing up, people lived more simply with fewer choices to make and shop for (thus using the car and fuel). We traveled less frequently with plane trips being a special thing and not routine. Of course, we weren’t business travelers and I recognize that it’s particularly bad for them now.

But I don’t have to get on a plane often. I’m happy here in my place and have free long distance to talk with friends and family who live elsewhere (which is most of them). We email and IM all the time. I love my family but I don’t have to be there with them as often as they have seen me in the past, not when they live half way across the country and the cost is so high.

There are lots more changes ahead for us, I’m sure. I plan to stick pretty close to home, shop more carefully and less often, and adjust. My vacations this summer will be train trips down to NYC and short drives to places in Connecticut that are on my “to do” list. Maybe a longish drive to western NY state to visit Lily Dale with our Frances. But that’s about it.

What are your summer plans? Will the price of gas change them this year?