The Top 10 Signs it’s Spring Break

Photo reprinted with permission from spadre.com.

Spring break is upon us.  How do we know this? Here are the top 10 signs!

10. Your teacher just assigned you a huge project.

9. South Padre Island is at the top of the ride share board.

8. Your bank account is nearly at zero.

7. You’re shopping for bikinis and its 10 below zero outside.

6. Your boyfriend just broke up with you.

5. You just broke up with your boyfriend.

4. A strange orange tan has mysteriously appeared on your body.

3. The gym is suddenly packed.

2. You’ve stayed sober all week in preparation.

1. You just blocked your parents from your Facebook page.

Preparing for Oilmageddon

Kuwait Oil Fires 1991 (US Air Force)

Panic Sets In as $4 Gas Prices Begin Appearing Across the US

Back in February of last year there was growing concern that unrest in the Middle East would result in record gas prices come the peak summer driving season, a scenario that nearly occurred as gas prices approached the $4 record set in the summer of 2008 but fell back after peaking at $3.90 in May.

We may not be as lucky this year as gas prices are well ahead of where they were in February of 2011, and $4 gas prices have already been spotted across the continental US in places like New York, Chicago and several locations in California.

Many analysts feel gas prices will exceed $4 a gallon across the US as early as this spring and reach as high as $4.50 by the peak summer months, possibly even $5 if tensions continue to build with Iran.  The press has picked up on this in a big way especially as it factors into the upcoming presidential election.

Not surprisingly, visits to our popular fuel calculator app are soaring as consumers grow increasingly concerned about high gas prices and how they will impact things like upcoming vacations, commuting costs or car purchases.  In fact January visits to Cost2Drive were more than double January 2011 and up 25% from December, and so far February visits are 20% higher than January.

But we’re not resting on our laurels, we’re getting ready to launch a whole new version of Cost2Drive.com with some great new features and a much improved visual design that we’re certain will delight our most fervent users.

Stay tuned for some news of the launch which we’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, we’ve recently enhanced our mobile app so if you have an iPhone check out the Cost2Drive iPhone app and never again wonder what it will cost to drive places.

Happy Driving!

Snowbirds Flock to Cost2Drive Amid Soaring Gas Prices

                                                           Thousands of Florida-Bound Car Travelers Turn to Cost2Drive.com for Help  Planning Trips as Gas Prices Reach Historic Highs

As travelers begin planning their winter vacations in earnest, each week thousands are turning to our popular fuel calculator website and iPhone app for help planning their car trips as gas prices reach historic highs for this time of year.  Visits to Cost2Drive.com have doubled as a result and so we decided to examine over 10,000 trips entered on the site during the first week of January to find out where all these travelers are heading in the new year.

The Migration Pattern of the Snowbird

It turns out that over 20%  of all the trips entered on Cost2Drive.com in the first week of 2012 have somewhere in Florida as the destination.  So where are all these sun worshipers coming from? Most are snowbirds coming from the Midwest and Northeast driving down to Florida to escape the long cold winters up north.  New York was the state with the largest volume of routes representing 11% of all Florida-bound trips, followed by Michigan at 7% and Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all at 6%.

Snowbird Migration Pattern as Entered on Cost2Drive.com

Car travelers from Boston, New Jersey and Texas represented 5% of all Florida-bound routes, followed by road trippers from Wisconsin, Indiana and neighboring state Georgia at 4% each.

Top Florida Destinations

The top Florida destinations being searched on Cost2Drive are pretty much the ones you’d expect, with Orlando (and Walt Disney World) capturing the majority of traveler interest as 40% of all the Florida-bound routes had Orlando, Disney World or Kissimmee as the destination.

Top Florida Destinations for Snowbirds

The destination rankings break down as follows:

  1. Orlando/Kissimmee: 40%
  2. Miami/Fort Lauderdale: 16%
  3. Tampa/Saint Petersburg/Clearwater: 11%
  4. The Florida Panhandle (Pensacola/Panama City): 8%
  5. Northeast Coast (Jacksonville, Daytona Beach): 7%
  6. Naples/Fort Myers: 7%
  7. Cape Canaveral/Palm Bay: 4%
  8. Florida Keys/Key West: 3%
  9. Sarasota/Bradenton: 3%
  10. All Others: 1%

The Atlantic versus the Gulf Coast

It’s common knowledge that you can determine the destination of a Florida-bound snowbird by its departure location, with Northeastern snowbirds alighting on the rough Atlantic coast while the Midwestern snowbirds prefer the calmer shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  We decided to test this hypothesis to see if the trips entered on Cost2Drive followed this same pattern.

Migration Patterns of the Midwestern and Northeastern Snowbird

We were delighted to learn that our results validated the hypothesis as the Midwestern Snowbirds were more likely to choose a Gulf Coast destination whereas the Northeastern Snowbirds were more likely to choose the Atlantic Coast.  We were surprised, however, to discover that Midwestern Snowbirds were also more likely to choose a Gulf Coast destination over Orlando/Disney World whereas Northeastern Snowbirds prefer Orlando over Atlantic Coast destinations by a fairly wide margin.

What’s your favorite Florida destination?

Happy Driving!

(no snowbirds were harmed in the undertaking of this study)

Honda Civic Crowned Top Car on Cost2Drive.com

Honda Civic the top car on Cost2Drive.comBeats Out the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord for Most Frequently Entered Vehicle

It turns out concerns over driving costs don’t go away with the purchase of a fuel-efficient vehicle.  After pouring over data from a million vehicles that have been entered on our popular trip calculator we’re ready to announce that the Honda Civic, one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, takes the crown as the most frequently entered vehicle on Cost2Drive.com.  Over 31,000 Honda Civic owners have turned to Cost2Drive to help plan car trips, narrowly edging out Toyota Camry and Honda Accord owners for the top spot.

Top Three Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com

When we launched Cost2Drive we thought the site would attract owners of larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles like SUVs and pickups, so we were a little surprised to find such fuel-efficient vehicles dominating the top of the list.  It appears that concerns over driving costs remain even after the purchase of a fuel-efficient vehicle, perhaps because gas prices remain at historic highs.

In a previous post we revealed that Ford ranked as the top car brand on Cost2Drive with Ford owners entering over 125,000 vehicles in our Galculator, and yet no Ford vehicles landed in the top three positions.  However Ford is well represented with four vehicles in the top ten list including the Ford Explorer which is the top-ranked SUV, and the F150, the top pickup truck.

Top Twenty Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com

We were curious to see how this list compares with the overall distribution of all vehicles on the road today in the US so we posted a question on popular Q&A site Quora seeking that information.  An Edmunds analyst was kind enough to provide us with the overall breakdown.

One noticeable discrepancy between these two lists is that SUVs and minivans rank higher on Cost2Drive whereas pickup trucks rank higher on the list of all vehicles on the road.  This could be because Cost2Drive attracts more of a leisure travel audience such as families that are planning vacations.  Evidence of this can be found in the high volume of routes to Disney theme parks entered on Cost2Drive in 2011,  where the leading vehicles are minivans.

Based on 10,000 routes to Disney parks entered on Cost2Drive.com

Average Age of Top Ten Vehicles

The average age of the million vehicles that have been entered on Cost2Drive.com is 7.3 years, meaning our audience is driving cars that are 2.7 years younger than the 10-year average age of all vehicles on the road today in the US.  As a final bit of analysis we decided to take a look at the average age of the top ten vehicles to see how it compared with all vehicles.

Average Age (years) of Top 10 Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com

The average age of the top ten vehicles is 7.6 years,  slightly older than all vehicles entered on Cost2Drive.com.  The Ford Focus came in as the youngest vehicle entered with an average age of 5.1 years and the Ford Explorer was the oldest at 9.2 years.

*Important to note is that the analysis covers vehicles going back to the 1990 model year, and that results for the two youngest vehicles are skewed due to later vehicle launches (Ford introduced the Focus in the US market in 1999 and Honda launched the Odyssey in 1995).

This post is the final installment of a 3 Part Series where we revealed data on a million vehicles entered on Cost2Drive.com to coincide with the North American International Auto Show.  The two previous posts looked into the top luxury vehicles entered on Cost2Drive and the top car brands overall.

If you have any questions regarding the above information or C2G, LLC  feel free to send us a note here or email me directly at jim@costtogo.com.

Happy Driving!

Ford Tops All Car Brands on Cost2Drive.com

Top Three Car Brands Entered on Cost2Drive.com

Edges Out Toyota and Chevrolet With Over 125,000 Routes Entered By Ford Owners

As we continue to analyze data from over one million vehicles that have  been entered into our popular fuel calculator app we’re ready to announce that Ford came out as the leading manufacturer on Cost2Drive.com.  Over 125,000 routes have been entered by Ford owners edging out Toyota and Chevrolet for the top position among consumers beleaguered by record high gas prices.

Owners of vehicles from all three manufacturers entered more than 100,000 routes on Cost2Drive with Honda owners not far behind entering over 95,000 routes.  Below is a chart depicting the top ten brands.

Top Ten Vehicle Manufacturers on Cost2Drive.com

Toyota Leads in Major Markets

We took a look at how the distribution of vehicles breaks down across ten major urban markets and in this case the results came out in favor of Toyota who led in seven of the ten markets.  Ford led in two markets (Miami and, not surprisingly, Detroit) while Chevrolet came out on top in Buffalo, NY.  Toyota led in San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta and Portland.

Leading Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com Across Ten US Markets

Newest Vehicles Being Entered By Hyundai Owners

Since the Galculator on Cost2Drive.com captures model year information we’re able to ascertain the average age of vehicles that are entered on this site.  The average age from these top ten brands was 7.4 years, however there are some significant variances between brands.  Owners of Pontiac cars, a brand GM discontinued in 2010, entered the oldest vehicles at an average age of 8.7 years while Hyundai owners entered the newest vehicles, averaging 5 years old.

The chart below illustrates how the volume of owners entering newer Hyundai vehicles on Cost2Drive.com is significantly higher than the other nine brands, indicating that Hyundai is hitting their target audience with their  messaging around high fuel efficiency.

Part 2 of a 3 Part Series: This is the second installment of 3 posts we’re publishing to coincide with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) where we  analyze data on over 1 million vehicles that have been entered on Cost2Drive.com.  You can read our initial post on the luxury car segment here, and in our final post we’ll reveal the leading vehicles overall entered on Cost2Drive.

If you have any questions regarding the above information or C2G, LLC  feel free to send us a note here or email me directly at jim@costtogo.com.

Happy Driving!

Even Millionaires Can’t Afford to Drive Anymore

The World’s Most Expensive Cars Among the Million Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com.

Its getting so bad even the rich are feeling the pinch of high gas prices.  On the eve of the North American International Auto Show (also known as the Detroit Auto Show) we thought it timely to release some data in the coming week regarding the types of vehicles users are entering on Cost2Drive.com, especially since gas prices are at historic highs for this time of year and we just surpassed one million vehicles that have been entered in our popular fuel calculator app.

As soon as we started digging through the data we noticed some startling results.  Among the tens-of-thousands of Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics and Ford Explorers that we expected to see were thousands of luxury vehicles, some even in the super-luxury category.

Exotic Luxury Cars Entered on Cost2Drive.com

Now, I won’t speculate on whether any of the 614 users that entered the Bugatti Veyron as their vehicle were real owners of this exotic sports car given the $1.8 million price tag, but the sheer volume of routes  entered with  luxury vehicles means its likely that real owners are using the site to help budget for car trips.

Moving down a tier from the super-expensive to just the expensive finds an increasing volume of routes entered with the more familiar luxury car names like  Buick,  BMW and Acura.  In fact nearly 10%of all the vehicles selected on Cost2Drive fell into the luxury or super-luxury category.

Top Luxury Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com

Buick led all manufacturers in the luxury segment with over  16,000 routes entered on Cost2Drive by Buick owners.  The top vehicle type was from owners of the BMW 3-series who entered nearly 7,000 routes.  Here are the top 5 luxury vehicles that were entered on Cost2Drive.

Top 5 Luxury Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com

The average age of all luxury vehicles entered on Cost2Drive was 8.4 years.  Below is the age breakdown from the top ten luxury vehicle manufacturers based on the volume of routes entered on Cost2Drive.com.

Average Age of Top Luxury Vehicles Entered on Cost2Drive.com

So what about the other 900,000 vehicles that have been entered on Cost2Drive? We’ll be revealing additional interesting data on these cars and light trucks later this week.

Part 1 of a 3 Part Series: This is the first installment of 3 posts we’ll be publishing to coincide with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) where we’ll reveal data on over 1 million vehicles that have been entered on Cost2Drive.com.

If you have any questions regarding the above information or C2G, LLC  feel free to send us a note here or email me directly at jim@costtogo.com.

Happy Driving!

Following Hemingway to Key West

The Overseas Railroad that carried Hemingway to Key West in 1934

Over the holidays I was reading a new book that explores the period in famed author Ernest Hemingway’s life  when he owned the fishing boat Pilar.  The first few chapters of Hemingway’s Boat are dedicated to his purchase of the boat upon his return to the US after a three-month African hunting safari and his subsequent trip to Key West, Florida where he would settle for the next several years.

Hemingway’s trip to Key West included traversing the Overseas Railroad, an engineering marvel that is celebrating its 100th anniversary later this month.  Although not a commercial success for developer Henry Flagler, the Overseas Railroad did provide the backbone for what would become one of the most exciting road trip destinations in the world; the Overseas Highway.

Stretching 127.5 miles from Homestead, FL to Key West, the Overseas Highway cuts a southwestern path through the Gulf of Mexico connecting the dots that make up the Florida Keys.  Most  of the highway is built over water making for a spectacular journey, unless there happens to be a hurricane (which caused the demise of the original railroad).

Hemmingways BoatAccording to Hemingway’s Boat, Hemingway’s journey originated in New York City on April 9th, 1934 and included a stopover in Philadelphia where he met with officials of the Academy of Natural Sciences who were interested in his knowledge of Gulf Stream fish, before terminating two days later at the southernmost point of the continental US.  Upon his arrival to Key West, also known as the Conch Republic, Hemingway was met by a marching band as his celebrity had already been established.

If you’re looking for a great southern escape this winter, you may want to follow Hemingway and head down to Key West for a tropical vacation that’s still within the borders of the US.  Although you can no longer take the train (the railroad was decommission after damage done by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935) you can drive the entire distance and use Cost2Drive.com to help plan for the trip.  Another  option is to fly to Miami and rent a car as its  a three-hour drive  from Miami to Key West and well  worth the trip.  Below is in interactive map that plots out the route and highlights key stops along the way.

Happy Driving!

20 Funniest Routes from 2011

The Top 20 Silliest, Ironic and Naughty Routes from Cost2Drive

Pouring over the data from more than 1 million trips entered on the Cost2Drive Website and iPhone app in 2011 I came across the following route:

From Whistler, BC to Prairie due Chien, WI

If you understand a little French you’ll know that prairie du chien literally translates to dog prairie, and I chuckled when I saw it combined with whistler as whistle and dog seemed like a funny combination.  I decided to dig through tens of thousands of other route pairs entered on Cost2Drive in 2011 to see if I could find any more humorous combinations and below are the results.

  1. Great Neck, NY to Lynchburg, VAgallows humor
  2. Plymouth, MA to Mechanicville, NY…if you’ve ever owned one you’ll get this
  3. Wellfleet, MA to Sinking Spring, PA
  4. Belle Chasse, LA to Deerfield, IL (belle chase translates to ‘good hunt’)
  5. Newton, MA to Appleton, WI
  6. Rushville, NY to Shippagan, New Brunswick…haste makes waste
  7. Loveland, CO to Kissimmee, FL
  8. Champaign, IL to Little Creek, DE…for those with small bladders
  9. Washington, DC to Circleville, OH…my only political commentary
  10. Butler, PA to Leavenworth, KS…he obviously did it
  11. Norwood, MA to Widener, AR…Buffalo Bills are still recovering from this one
  12. Norman, OK to Batesville, AR….MOOOOTHHHEEERRR!!
  13. Clinton, CT to Bushville, NY…Nov. 2001
  14. Cherry Hill, NJ to Pittsfield, MA
  15. Cedar Falls, IA to Lumberton, TX…cue the groans
  16. Napoleonville, LA to Waterloo, IA… we all know how this trip ends
  17. Vestal, NY to Bangor, ME…the naughty one
  18. Winchester, VA to Flower Mound, TX…live by the sword..
  19. Old Bridge, NY to Pray, MT
  20. Fruitport, MI to Flushing, NY

We hope you enjoyed our top 20 list as much as we enjoyed putting it together.  Its a great deal of fun thinking about the different city combinations and if you’re the creative type feel free to add your own funny routes using the comments feature below.  If we like it we may highlight your submission in a future post.

Happy New Year and Safe Driving in 2012!

Dodge Caravan Is King of the Magic Kingdom

The Top Vehicle for Vacationers Driving to Disney Parks in 2011

As millions of people across the US and Canada begin planning their annual trek south for the winter many will have a Disney theme park as their final destination.  You can literally draw a line down the middle of North America to predict which parks these travelers will visit with the western half visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in southern California and the eastern half visiting Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

North America divided by two realms of Disney

What’s harder to predict are the types of vehicles these travelers will be driving on their epic road trips to Disney, and so we thought this would be an interesting study to undertake given that Disney World is the most popular attraction entered on our flagship Website Cost2Drive.com, a site used by over 300,000 people in 2011 to help plan car trips.  Nearly 10,000 of these road trippers entered a Disney theme park as their destination providing us with an ample supply of routes from which to analyze.  Below are our findings.

The Top 10 Vehicles Driven to Disney Parks

We don’t know if anyone has ever conducted a study like this, but since users of Cost2Drive enter their vehicle information on the site we’re able to identify the most popular cars that people are driving to Disney World and Disneyland.   Not surprisingly, the top four vehicles are minivans which are ideally suited for the traveling family.

Based on 10,000 routes to Disney parks entered on Cost2Drive.com

What is surprising, however, is how different this list is from the top vehicles entered on Cost2Drive overall in 2011.  Well be sharing that list in a future post, but don’t expect minivans to populate the top positions.  It is interesting to note that SUV’s didn’t crack the top five, though a number did make it into the top 20 rankings.  The Dodge Caravan took the top slot, capturing 10.5% of all the trips to Disney World and Disneyland on Cost2Drive, followed closely by the Honda Odyssey.  Rankings of the all of the top 10 are as follows:

  1. Dodge Caravan (10.5%)
  2. Honda Odyssey  (9.6%)
  3. Chrysler Town & Country (6.3%)
  4. Toyota Sienna (6.0%)
  5. Toyota Camry (5.1%)
  6. Ford Explorer (5.0%)
  7. Honda Civic (4.9%)
  8. Honda Pilot (4.3%)
  9. Honda Accord (4.2%)
  10. Ford Expedition (4.2%)

Average Trip Distance by Vehicle

People are always amazed when we tell them that average distance of routes entered on Cost2Drive is over 800 miles each way, and that expands further for trips to the Disney theme parks where the average trip distance is over 1,000 miles.  The average trip length varies significantly by vehicle type with minivans and SUVs outpacing sedans in terms of trip length.

Average distance driven to Disney theme parks (one-way)

In this case its the Chrysler Town & Country that takes the crown with an average trip length of 1165 miles each way.  The overall average trip length was 1,065 miles with the top 10 rankings as follows:

  1. Chrysler Town & Country – 1,165 miles
  2. Dodge Caravan – 1,149 miles
  3. Toyota Sienna – 1,118 miles
  4. Honda Odyssey – 1,104 miles
  5. Ford Expedition – 1,027 miles
  6. Honda Civic – 1,008 miles
  7. Honda Pilot – 985 miles
  8. Ford Explorer – 969 miles
  9. Toyota Camry – 964 miles
  10. Honda Accord – 841 miles

Cost of Driving

Because gas prices are at record highs for this time of year one of the most important considerations for consumers is how much they will need to budget for gas to get to the Disney parks.   We entered a typical trip from Chicago to Disney World  into our trip cost calculator on Cost2Drive.com to compare the cost of driving the 2011 models of the four leading minivans (note that the Dodge Caravan is now the Grand Caravan):

Driving costs based on 2011 model year vehicles using EPA MPG estimates

In this scenario its the 2011 Honda Odyssey that ends up with the crown being the most fuel efficient of the four minivans, costing only $144 each way to drive from Chicago to Orlando.

If you’re planning a winter road trip check out the Cost2Drive trip calculator to help you plan the trip.  It will quickly calculate fuel costs based on real time gas prices along your route and help you save money by locating the cheapest gas at refueling points along the way.  It also displays the cheapest airfare so you can see if its cheaper to fly or drive to your destination.

If you have an iPhone you can download our new Cost2Drive iPhone app that gives you all the great features of the Website plus it lets you save and compare up to five vehicles in the app.  Download it today and never again wonder what it will cost to drive places.

Happy New Year and Happy & Safe Driving in 2012!

Cost2Drive iPhone App FREE For The Holidays!

Our Holiday Gift to You!  Save $1.99 Through Jan, 1, 2012.

In case you hadn’t noticed, gas prices in the US are now at an all time high heading into the week before Christmas as the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has  remained stubbornly above $3.00.  In fact gas prices are a full 30 cents per gallon more than last year at this time which, combined with an unprecedented hike in toll fees, makes this Christmas travel season the most expensive on record.

Rather than curse the darkness we’re going to shine a light on what it will cost to drive places this holiday season by offering up our new Cost2Drive iPhone application for free for the remainder of the year.  Whether you’re planning a trip home to visit family and friends or planning that winter vacation to the Florida beaches or Colorado ski slopes the Cost2Drive iPhone app will help you budget for the trip by showing fuel costs and save you money by locating the cheapest gas at refueling points along the way.  The app also makes it a breeze to quickly compare the cost of driving different vehicles with a simple swipe of a finger and displays the cheapest airfare so you can see if its cheaper to fly or drive to your destination.

Quickly Compare the Cost of Driving Different Vehicles With the Swipe of a Finger

The Cost2Drive iPhone app contains fuel efficiency information on over 20,000 cars and light trucks in the US going back to the 1990 model year and lets you save up to 5 vehicles in the app.  It also provides the ability to enter your own custom vehicles making it useful for owners of RVs and motorcycles as well.

Manually Enter Custom Vehicles Like RVs and Motorcycles

So we’ve built alot of value into the iPhone app, but don’t take our word for it check out some of the great reviews the app has received, including this one from CNET TV.

Visit iTunes to download the new app today for FREE and let us know what you think.  If you don’t have an iPhone, you can use our Website application to begin planning your car trips for 2012.Apple iTunes App Store

We wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Happy Driving!