Great post about how high gas prices are impacting daily family activities

very VERY busy mom

With the astronomical price of gas these days, I start to have an anxiety attack each moment my odometer clicks another tenth of a digit. I quickly do the math in my head: if my 15-year old minivan gets 16 miles per gallon of gas and I pay $4.50 for each gallon, I am coughing up over 28 cents for every tenth of a mile. It now costs twice as much in gas to deliver my daughter’s forgotten brown bag lunch than to just make her buy lunch at the school cafeteria. What a dilemma!

When I got my driver’s license in 1978, I remember paying just 64 cents for a gallon of gas. I say this and I feel like the old geezers who complain how when they were kids they used to walk to school uphill both ways. Suddenly I’m older than dirt.

Today, as I near a…

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Planning the Ultimate National Parks Road Trip

My ultimate National Parks road trip will cost $923 in fuel charges

Cost2Drive 2.0 Helps By Quickly Calculating Fuel Costs

It’s National Park Week here in the US and so we’re spending a good bit of time looking at how people are using our popular trip planning application to plan trips to our national parks.  We were thrilled to learn that in the past year alone over 6,500 trips to national parks were planned on, and we expect that number to rise considerably with the launch of our new National Park trip planning pages.

As expected out of the 6,500 trips the most popular parks were Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon with Yosemite placing a distant third.

We did, however, uncover an interesting trend; it appears that national parks go well together as nearly 10% of the routes entered started at one national park and ended at another.  I guess that’s to be expected with all the bucket-listers out there (I can almost hear Clark Griswold firing up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster), though it may also be due to the remoteness of some of the parks as well as the clustering in some parts of the Western US.

The ten most popular pairings were:

  1. Yellowstone & Grand Canyon
  2. Bryce Canyon & Zion
  3. Yellowstone & Grand Teton
  4. Death Valley & Sequoia and Kings Canyon
  5. Bryce Canyon & Grand Canyon
  6. Grand Canyon & Yosemite
  7. Grand Canyon & Zion
  8. Mount Rushmore & Yellowstone
  9. Death Valley & Yosemite
  10. Arches & Canyonlands

An interesting side note is that the most popular pairing, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, is also the most distant at 873 miles apart (the average distance between the paired parks was 386 miles or 7 hours of travel time).

Clark Griswold’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation

I thought it would be fun to see what it would cost to drive my ultimate national parks road trip from my home in Washington, DC to Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone to Yosemite to the Grand Canyon and finally back to DC again.

It turns out it will cost $923 in fuel alone for the trip, cover nearly 6,000 miles and take nearly 100 hours of driving time.  If you’d like to see the results here’s a link to the route on the upcoming version of, and feel free to try out the site by planning your own ultimate national parks road trip.  You can even share the results with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Note: If you’re driving an RV, motorhome, motorcycle, lawn mower or any other vehicle not currently listed in Cost2Drive you can still use the site by clicking on the ‘can’t find your car’ link and manually entering the fuel information for your vehicle.

We hope everyone takes advantage of the free entrance fees by visiting at least one of our 397 national parks during National Park Week Apr. 21-29.

Happy Parking!

Ten Bizarre Facts About Our National Parks

There really isn't a Jellystone National Park

In Honor of National Park Week We Uncover Ten Bizarre Facts Related to our National Parks

  1. Dry Tortugas National Park is actually surrounded by water (it’s a group of seven islands off Key West).
  2. Conversely, Capitol Reef National Park is nowhere near the water, it’s in the middle of the desert in Utah.
  3. There are many US National Forests, but  Petrified Forest isn’t one of them (it’s a National Park).
  4. An event can be part of the National Park Service (i.e, the National Cherry Blossom Festival )
  5. There’s a high school among the National Parks (Central High School in Little Rock, AR)
  6. There are several National Parks outside the 50 states (but in US territories Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa)
  7. National Parks aren’t limited to this planet…there’s a Craters of the Moon National Monument (though it’s actually in Idaho)
  8. Two National Parks have the word Devil in them (Devils Tower and Devils Postpile National Monuments)
  9. Several rivers and trails are designated as National Parks such as the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that cuts across many states.
  10. A musical style can be designated a National Park as in the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park.
  11. Extra Bonus: Jellystone really isn’t a National Park (we thought we’d clear this up as someone searched for it in our new national park pages).

Ten Myths About Our National Parks


Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park

In honor of National Park Week we debunk ten common misconceptions about our wonderful National Parks.

  1. Eruptions at Old Faithful are so reliable you can set your watch to them  (you may end up late for meetings as predicting the interval between eruptions has a margin of error of 10 minutes)
  2. Mount Rushmore is a National Park (it’s actually a National Memorial, but it is part of the National Park Service)
  3. The Grand Canyon is the most popular National Park (Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited park with 8-10 million visitors each year)
  4. You can fish off the Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park (fishing from the bridge  was prohibited in 1973)
  5. You can camp wherever you like in Yosemite National Park (though once true, unrestricted camping in Yosemite Valley is no longer allowed due to the damage it causes.)
  6. The National Park Service oversees 397 parks (they oversee 397 units which include 124 historical parks or sites, 75 monuments, 58 national parks, 25 battlefields or military parks, 18 preserves, 18 recreation areas, 10 seashores, four parkways, four lakeshores, and two reserves.
  7. All National Parks have entrance fees (Only 147 charge fees ranging from $5-$25, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free as is Mt. Rushmore – though there is an $11 parking fee).
  8. You may encounter deadly tarantulas at Zion National Park (although tarantulas do inhabit Zion National Park, they are generally docile and if they do bite their venom is non-toxic to humans).
  9. Glacier National Park is full of glaciers. (it once was, but of the hundreds of glaciers that formed the dramatic landscape of Glacier National Park fewer than 25 active glaciers remain.)
  10. During National Park Week (April 21-29) it’s free to get in all 397 parks (wait…this one is True!  But while it’s free to get in all 397 parks, getting to them is another matter, especially with record-high gas prices.  That’s why we created our new National Parks trip-planning pages to help park lovers budget for their trip and save money along the wayCheck them out to begin planning your next visit to a national park).

Happy Parking!

Something Wonderful is Going to Happen

Shenandoah National Park is one of nearly 400 parks waiving entrances fees during National Park Week April 21-29

Early Access to Cost2Drive 2.0 for National Park Week

Here at Cost2Go we’ve been working on something for quite some time, something we think is wonderful, and we’re so eager to share it we’re not even going to wait until it’s finished (because nothing on the Web ever is).  We’re getting ready to launch an entirely new version of, our popular trip planning application that has now been used by over 1 million people.

But before we do, we’re going to give park lovers a special sneak peak of the new site in honor of National Park Week.  We love our national parks, and during National Park Week (April 21-29) something even more wonderful is going to happen as entrance fees to all 397 national parks will be waived making it free to get in.  Unfortunately it’s not free to get to the parks, and so that’s where we come in by helping people plan their trips with our brand new national park pages.

Yellowstone National Park Page on Cost2Drive 2.0

These beautiful new pages cover the top 10 national parks that users searched for on Cost2Drive over the past 12 months, and they make it super easy to determine how much it will cost to drive to the parks based on the fuel efficiency of your car and current gas prices along your route.  They also help you save money by locating the cheapest gas at refueling points along the way (click on the gas pump icon to see the price and location) and by displaying the cheapest airfare so you can see if it’s cheaper to drive or fly to the park.

Results Page for trip to Zion National Park from Sacramento, CA

The new national park pages also display the top hotels, restaurants and attractions in (or near) the parks from TripAdvisor so you can start planning your entire trip directly from these pages, and if your favorite park isn’t among these ten, no problem. You can get all this helpful information for all 379 national parks by simply typing in the park name on the main page of Cost2Drive (note – Mount Rushmore isn’t a National Park, it’s actually a National Memorial) .

Below are links to the 10 brand new national park pages on Cost2Drive so you can plan your trip to the park in earnest and even share your plans with friends via Facebook or Twitter using our new ShareThis widget!

That’s all we’re going to say about Cost2Drive 2.0 for now, but we’ll be sharing much more in the coming weeks as something even more wonderful is coming –  Summer – and here at C2G we want to help you make the best of it!

What’s your favorite National Park?

Happy Parking!

Are Gas Prices Impacting Shopping Behavior?

Rapidly increasing gas prices have gas stations scrambling to keep up. This one in Great Falls, VA ran out of the # 4 when gas surpassed $4 per gallon.

Shoppers Are Turning to Cost2Drive in Increasing Numbers

This morning my wife wanted to purchase tickets to an upcoming show at the Kennedy Center.  She decided to order the tickets online to save time and the fuel costs associated with driving into Washington, DC to buy the tickets in person, but was stunned by the huge service fee of $32 for ordering them online.  All of a sudden the trade off in convenience didn’t seem worth the extra expense, but there was still the fuel cost to consider.

Fortunately she had downloaded the  Cost2Drive iPhone app and  within seconds was able to determine that the trip into DC would cost her a mere $3.85, less than $8 round trip, and so she opted to drive to the Kennedy Center to pick up the tickets  thereby saving $24 off the cost of the total ticket purchase.

With a swipe of her finger, my wife could also have quickly compared the costs of driving each of our cars into DC.

As she related this story  I thought about the millions of scenarios that occur each day throughout the US that involve similar types of cost-benefit analyses tied to driving costs and gas prices.

Some examples include:

  • Is it cheaper to drive to the outlets or shop nearby?
  • How good is that daily deal I’m considering once I factor in driving costs?
  • What’s it going to cost me to run back to the grocery store for that one item I forgot?

I decided to investigate if others were using Cost2Drive in this manner by searching through over 200,000 trips entered on our popular trip cost calculator in March to see if any had shopping malls entered as the trip destination.  Several hundred did with the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN as the most popular followed by The Florida Mall in Orlando and the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania.

The average trip distance for these routes was slightly over 300 miles, which is much shorter than the 800-mile average distance for all routes entered on  When the Mall of America, which is a travel destination in itself, is removed from the results the average distance drops to 230 miles with many routes being entered in the 10-20 mile range indicating that shoppers are indeed concerned about driving costs, even for nearby shopping trips.

Are high gas prices impacting your daily shopping habits? Share your experiences below.

Can Facebook REALLY Threaten Google in Search?

Only In The Most Lucrative Categories…

There’s been much speculation lately that Facebook is finally staffing up to take a shot at improving their internal search product, a product that many would agree has been woefully under utilized in the past.  Along with this comes the usual debate around social search:

  • What exactly is social search?
  • How compelling is it, both to users and advertisers?
  • Can it really compete with Google?

The answer to the last questions is ‘No’, and this would be a wonderfully short blog post should that be a complete answer…but it’s not.  Incorporating social signals in search can improve it in a way that is so exciting and compelling that Google has to not only be aware, but deeply concerned by it as well.

Social Influence in Purchase Decisions

For the uninitiated, much of the opportunity (or concern, depending on which side of the fence you sit) around social search has to do with how purchase decisions are influenced by your social connections.  Research has repeatedly shown that friends and family are big influencers in purchase decisions, and the larger the purchase the more these social connections are sought out for advice.

Given the above it’s not surprising so many companies in the larger priced categories such as travel, electronics and automotive have been aggressively experimenting with social media.  But how does this tie in with search?

It’s a Temporal Issue

Think about the last time your friend cornered you and forced you to view the photos from his recent trip to the Caribbean.  You probably enjoyed the first few photos of turquoise inlets and stunning sunsets, but your mind likely wandered around the fourth restaurant photo or the nineteenth beach shot.  The reality is this really isn’t all that relevant to you right now, but it might be very relevant to you the next time you’re planning a vacation.

The key is to aggregate and structure this content in a way that it can easily be retrieved when needed (sound like search yet?).  Companies like TripAdvisor have already built hugely successful businesses on the aggregation of anonymous content, just think how powerful this becomes when it gets plugged into your social graph.

Exhibit from Facebook's S-1 Registration filing

The above is from Facebook’s recent S-1 registration filing, illustrating the deep integration of Facebook’s social graph on TripAdvisor’s core site.  However what’s far more compelling than the main page integration is what happens when you search for a destination in the big white search box at the top of the page and can immediately see which of your friends have been to Paris, Cape Cod or South America.

It’s this social search experience that’s so compelling to consumers, and likely to cause the greatest amount of concern at Google, especially when you consider as much as 15% of Google’s total revenue is rumored to come from the travel industry.  Is it any wonder then that recently there have been rumors flying around regarding Google and Facebook expressing interest in acquiring TripAdvisor.

How is this Relevant to Automobiles?

Let me answer this by posing two questions.

  1. How many Facebook friends do you have?
  2. What cars do each of of them drive?

Question number two is the kicker, and I’ll bet the majority of people can name less than 10% of their friends’ vehicles.  And why should they? It’s really not important unless they’re searching for a new car, at which point it may become highly relevant and important.

Let’s say I’m searching for a new car and interested in finding out more about Infiniti’s G series.  If I type that query into Google I get the following results as part of their social search experience.

Google Social Search results for 'Infiniti G series'

The above social connections are pretty useless to me in my research of new cars to buy, however the following would be immensely useful.

Ideal Social Search Experience

For this to become viable, Google (or Facebook) would need to know one additional piece of data about you: what car you drive.

We think about this alot at C2G as over 1 million people have now entered this exact piece of information into our Galculator, and the volume is growing at a rapid rate.

Travel and Automotive represent two of the biggest advertising categories online.  What are your thoughts on social search?  Do you think Google has anything to worry about with Facebook’s latest moves?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy Driving!