Tag Archives: trip calculator

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!


Think Gas Prices Are High This Holiday Season? Wait ‘Till You Hit the Toll Booth

Toll Hikes Conspire With Record High Gas Prices to Make This Holiday Travel Season the Most Expensive Ever

As if record high gas prices aren’t enough for travelers to deal with this holiday season drivers must also brace for additional costs related to increased toll fees across much of the nation, especially along the eastern seaboard.

If you’re planning a trip to New York City for a shopping or theater excursion this holiday be aware that back in September the toll rates on the bridges and tunnels increased by 50% so entering the city by car now costs a whopping $12 if you’re paying in cash (EZ Pass prices are $9.50 Peak, $7.50 Off-Peak).  There’s something a little scary about tolls that require you to pull a ten-spot out of your wallet for a single crossing, and the Verazzano-Narrows bridge even tops this with a $13 fee. Click on the interactive map below to see the new toll rates at each crossing.

On the first of November a number of toll hikes went into effect in Maryland as well including the toll for the Bay Bridge connecting Maryland’s Eastern Shore with its mainland which increased 60% from $2.50 to $4.  Tolls on all three Baltimore Harbor crossings (the Fort McHenry Tunnel, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and the Francis Scott Key Bridge)  increased 50% from $2 to $3, and the toll on the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge increased 33% from $3 to $4.  In northern Maryland smaller toll hikes of 20% went into effect as the tolls on the the JFK Memorial Highway (I-95) and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge were raised from $5 to $6.

Maryland has also introduced a brand new toll road, the much-anticipated (and hotly-debated) InterCounty Connector (ICC) that connects I-95 with I-370.  This new toll road has been free up until December 5th when a $6 toll went into effect ($4.50 EZ Pass) for driving the entire 18-mile stretch of the road during peak hours on weekdays, or $4.80 ($3.20 EZ Pass) for off-peak hours and  weekends and federal holidays.  Night owls can save extra money on the ICC as the toll rate drops to $2.60 ($1.90 EZ Pass) from 11 pm to 5 am every day of the week.

Things won’t get any better in 2012, as numerous tolling authorities are set to roll out increases on the first day of the new year with the Illinois Tollway leading the pack with an 87% toll hike on four toll roads (the Jane Adams Memorial Tollway, the Tri-State Tollway, the Reagan Memorial Tollway and the Veterans Memorial Tollway).  They have an excellent interactive map of all the toll facilities that you can view here.  New Jersey will also be introducing toll hikes of 53% and 50% on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike respectively on New Years Day.  At the end of January 50% toll hikes will also go into effect for Hudson river crossings between Bear Mountain and Catskills, NY when tolls will climb to $1.50 ($1.25 EZ Pass) from the current $1 rate.

Many other states have proposals underway to introduce tolls in 2012 and beyond including Missouri where the Dept. of Transportation is considering adding tolls to I-70, the main highway that cuts across the state from east to west, as a way to fund a major rebuilding effort.  A similar proposal is underway for interstates I-80 and  I-35 in Iowa and tolling actions are planned in  Florida and Colorado as well.

So what’s causing this sudden increase in tolls? Woefully underfunded state departments of transportation that are increasingly turning to tolls as a way to rebuild infrastructure without raising taxes.  From a consumers perspective its not just the additional cost that’s at issue but the increasing complexity of the fees that make it nearly impossible to predict what it will cost to drive places.

We’re going to be writing a separate post about these new variable tolling structures, but meanwhile we’re working aggressively on finding ways to include toll information into the trip cost estimates we provide on our Cost2Drive website and Cost2Drive iPhone App as its the number one request we hear from our users.  Until then we’ve put up a site called Cost of Tolls that aggregates toll information from across the US to help drivers quickly get the latest toll information prior to leaving on a trip.

Happy Driving!

CNET TV Reviews the Cost2Drive iPhone App

Great review of our new app by the CNET TV team.  You can view the full episode here.

Exciting Week for Cost2Drive iPhone App!

CBS12 West Palm Beach, FL coverage of Cost2Drive

Fly or Drive? An Easy Way to Compare Costs as reported by Herb Tabin of CBS 12.

Reviews, Press Mentions Catapults App into Top 10 Ranking

It’s been an exciting week since we launched our latest update to the new Cost2Drive iPhone app, version 1.0.1  with Kayak flight integration, and the reviews have been coming in fast and favorably.  Right on the heels of last week’s great coverage by Sebastian Blanco at Autoblog and Craig Agranoff from CBS Radio Buzz 103, this week followed up with a bang with reviews from CNET, AutoGuide and CBS 12 TV.

On Tuesday Antuan Goodwin of CNET gave this great review of the Cost2Drive iPhone app followed by this TV segment from Herb Tabin of CBS 12, West Palm Beach, FL.  The week culminated with another strong review by Amy Tokic at AutoGuide.

We were thrilled to see that the great reviews and media attention helped catapult the Cost2Drive iPhone app into a Top 10 ranking in iTunes, and are committed to constantly improving the app based on user feedback so look for more exciting upgrades in the very near future.

Thanks everyone that has purchased the app and please don’t hesitate to share your feedback by submitting reviews in iTunes or directly to us via the app.

If you haven’t downloaded the app you can get it here or by going to iTunes and searching on Cost2Drive.

Happy Driving!

Apple iTunes App Store

Is It Cheaper to Fly or Drive? New iPhone App Provides Answer

Cheaper to drive or fly?New Kayak Integration Provides Quick Cost Comparison

UPDATE: The new Cost2Drive iPhone app was just names App of the Week by Love For Tech tech blog! Read the review.

Only 2 weeks after launching the revolutionary  Cost2Drive iPhone app it’s already getting some great reviews from such prominent brands as Autoblog and CBS Radio which helped catapult the app quickly into a Top 20 ranking in iTunes.

Cost2Drive iPhone App Top 20 Ranking iTunes

WOOHOO!  But we’re not resting on our laurels, and so today we’re excited to announce we’ve made the Cost2Drive iPhone app even better by introducing a drive vs. fly cost comparison feature.  With this recent update when you enter a route that’s over 200 miles in distance you’ll now see the cheapest airfare for that route as found on the leading airfare search Website Kayak.com.

CBS4 Denver Highlights our Flight vs. Drive Cost Comparison Feature

When we first introduced this market-leading innovation on our flagship Website our users immediately embraced it, and so we’re delighted to now have it fully integrated into the iPhone application so users can quickly see if its cheaper to fly or drive to their destination.

Download the the new app today in iTunes at our low introductory price of $1.99 and let us know what you think of this exciting new feature!

Happy Driving!Apple iTunes App Store

C2G Launches Cost2Drive iPhone App!

Cost2Drive iPhone App

Revolutionary App Makes Calculating Driving Costs a Breeze!

UPDATE: We’ve just launched version 1.0.1 which has an airfare comparison feature.  Read more here.

Ever try to figure out how much it costs to drive somewhere?  It’s easy, right?  Just multiply the distance by the price of gas.  Wait, you also have to factor in the fuel efficiency (MPG) of the car you are driving.  Hmmm, and gas prices where you live be very different from where you’ll have to refuel during your trip.  Maybe this isn’t as easy as you first thought.

That’s why we created Cost2Drive, to help you quickly determine the cost of driving places, and why today we’re VERY excited to announce that right on the eve of Labor Day Weekend we’ve launched an iPhone version of our popular Web application that makes it even easier to calculate trip costs, and that it’s now available for download here in the App Store at a special introductory price of only $1.99.

With gas prices remaining stubbornly high, driving costs can quickly diminish a household budget.  For a family planning a trip from New York to Disney World in Orlando it can cost over $400 in fuel driving a typical SUV, and if you haven’t factored these costs into your vacation budget it can be quite a shock at the end of the month when the credit card bill arrives.

App Uses GPS for Starting address

Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a college road trip or just want to see if its worthwhile to drive to the next town to get a great deal, the Cost2Drive iPhone app makes it super easy to quickly determine the cost of the trip.

Nested in an elegant design, the Cost2Drive iPhone app is beautiful in its simplicity despite the very complex technology underneath.  Unlike other fuel cost calculators, the Cost2Drive iPhone app doesn’t ask you to manually enter dozens of things like your vehicle’s MPG, route distances and gas prices – it does it all for you making it the most sophisticated trip calculator on the market (the same traits that made our Website so popular with both consumers and the press alike.)

One of the most unique features of the Cost2Drive iPhone app is its ability to factor in different prices for gas as  you travel along a route.  Gas prices can vary tremendously from state to state, or even city to city and so our app takes that into account by pulling current gas prices from refueling points along the way. We determine these points based on the driving range of your car (how far it will travel on a single tank of gas), information that we’ve painstakingly collected on over 20,000 cars and light trucks in the US.  Although no app can be 100% accurate in estimating fuel costs, many users of Cost2Drive.com have told us that our Galculator (the technology that powers both the Website and iPhone app) has been accurate to within $1 for trips over a thousand miles in distance.

Select and Save up to 5 Vehicles

Select and Save up to 5 Vehicles

The Cost2Drive iPhone app leverages many of the unique capabilities of the iPhone to make it even easier to calculate trip costs.   For example, the app utilizes the iPhone’s location services to automatically fill in your current location as the starting point of your route (this can easily be modified by the user).  The new app also enables you to auto-fill the address of a friend from your iPhone address book, so you can see what it costs to visit family and friends with the tap of a button.  The Cost2Drive iPhone app also lets you store up to 5 vehicles in the app, and you can easily  compare the cost of driving these different vehicles with a simple swipe of your finger.

Add Custom Vehicles

The Cost2Drive iPhone app also provides you with the ability to manually enter and save vehicles and choose from 3 grades of fuel (regular, premium and diesel).  This means that owners of vehicles that aren’t yet included on the app (i.e., RVs, motorcycles, U-Haul trucks) can  also take advantage of this great app to plan trips.

Just as with the Cost2Drive Website, you’ll be able to view maps displaying your route and where you’ll need to refuel along the way, and the app also helps you save money by finding the cheapest gas at these refueling points from over 100,000 gas stations in the US (provided by OPIS).

Maps and Gas Prices

The map and fuel prices are presented in the iPhone’s Web browser  via a new redesigned version of Cost2Drive.com.  We’ll share more on that in a future post, but for now purchasers of the iPhone app will enjoy this special sneak preview of some great new enhancements we’re making to the Cost2Drive Website to better serve your trip planning needs.

Don’t wait to purchase your version of the Cost2Drive iPhone app as this introductory pricing will only be available for a limited time.  Download the app today and let us know what you think!

Happy Driving!Apple iTunes App Store

Apple, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. The App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.

Students Use Cost2Drive for Trips Back to School

Hundreds of Colleges and Universities Entered as Destinations

Returning College Student (photo credit http://www.stcloudmn.com)

When we launched Cost2Drive we thought that college students might find it a helpful tool for budgeting trips to-and-from college campuses, as well as a way to save money on road trips like those legendary jaunts to spring break destinations.

Boy were we right!  As fall draws near and gas prices remain stubbornly high we took a look to see if users were searching for colleges on Cost2Drive.  We were amazed to learn that students are entering hundreds of institutions of higher learning as destinations on Cost2Drive to help them better plan  their trips back to college.

So what types of schools are students searching for?  It turns out a very broad spectrum of colleges and universities including some of the best known Ivy Leagues schools such as Yale and Harvard (its good to know they need help with math too) as well as lesser known community colleges like Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH and Nassau Community College out on Long Island, NY.

Below is an interactive maps representing some of the institutions that people have been searching for on Cost2Drive.  Do you see your college on the map?

We’re also including a list of the top 20 colleges and universities based on the number of user searches on Cost2Drive in July along with the current cost to drive to them from nearby metropolitan markets.  If your school is on the list you can click on the link and it will take you to a results page where you can customize the route to learn what it will cost you to drive back to your college.  When you land on the page simply click on the ‘edit trip’ link and add in your home location and vehicle information.

If your school is not on the list you can visit  Cost2Drive.com and find your school using the new autocomplete feature we recently implemented.  Cost2Drive will not only provide the estimated cost of the trip based on current gas prices, but it will also locate the cheapest gas at refueling points along your route.  For trips over 200 miles Cost2Drive will also show you the cheapest airfare so you can see if its cheaper to fly or drive back to school.

If you’d like to have this functionality added to your school website we have a trip planning widget available for free and we’d be happy to help schools add it to their websites to help current and future students plan trips to the university.

To all returning college students: Happy Driving and have a great school year!

Cost to Drive to Top 20 Universities from Major Cities (costs are one-way driving a 2008 Ford Explorer)

  1. Cost to drive to Duke University from Washington, DC: $49
  2. Cost to drive to California State University – Long Beach from San Francisco, CA: $88
  3. Cost to drive to Cornell University from New York, NY: $39
  4. Cost to drive to Indiana University from Chicago, IL: $46
  5. Cost to drive to Bowling Green State University from Chicago, IL: $50
  6. Cost to drive to Marquette University from Minneapolis, MN: $63
  7. Cost to drive to Saginaw Valley State University from Chicago, IL: $61
  8. Cost to drive to Stanford University from Denver, CO: $248
  9. Cost to drive to Southern Methodist University from Phoenix, AZ: $199
  10. Cost to drive to The Ohio State University from Chicago, IL: $62
  11. Cost to drive to Harvard University from New York, NY: $39
  12. Cost to drive to Yale University from Boston, MA: $26
  13. Cost to drive to Texas Tech from Denver, CO: $109
  14. Cost to drive to University of Maryland from New York, NY: $40
  15. Cost to drive to University of North Carolina from Atlanta, GA: $80
  16. Cost to drive to University of Southern California from Phoenix, AZ: $64
  17. Cost to drive to University of Tennessee from Atlanta, GA: $40
  18. Cost to drive to Western Michigan University from Chicago, IL: $44
  19. Cost to drive to Virginia Commonwealth University from Philadelphia, PA: $45
  20. Cost to drive to University of Wisconsin from Chicago, IL: $29

6ABC Philadelphia TV Segment featuring Cost2Drive.com

Wanna Widget?

New Trip Planning Tool Available Free to Travel Websites

Visit Tampa Bay Widget

Almost from the day we launched the site Cost2Drive.com people have been asking us for a widget version they could easily add to their own blogs or Websites.  In fact a number of tourism sites like Visit San Antonio, Visit Philly and California’s Redwood Coast didn’t bother waiting and already link off to Cost2Drive to help prospective visitors plan better car trips to their destination (and for this we are VERY appreciative!).

Today we’re pleased to announce that we’ve built an iframe version of Cost2Drive that Website owners can easily add  to their site by adding a single line of code.    This is perfect for travel sites that cater to the drive-in market and want to provide additional trip planning tools to their users.  With the average price of gas in the US still well above $3.50 a gallon transportation costs can easily eat up 20% or more of an entire vacation budget, so helping travelers better plan and manage these costs will give them another reason to visit your site, and more importantly your destination!

widget Results Page

To use the widget users simply enter the origin and destination of the trip (note, sites can insert a default destination as in the above example for Tampa, FL) and then their vehicle information.  After entering this information the user clicks on the Find My Cost to Drive button and our Galculator takes care of the rest, returning the trip costs based on real time gas prices along the route.

We couldn’t fit all the great features of Cost2Drive in this small widget so if the user want to see more details, such as a map of the route or where to find the cheapest gas at refueling points, they can click on the See Details button which will take them over to Cost2Drive.com for the full results.  For routes over 200 miles in distance they’ll also see the cheapest airfare so they can easily determine if its cheaper to fly or drive to the destination.

If you’d like to test out the widget functionality check out the live version on VisitTampaBay.com.  Many thanks go out to Jeremy Fairley @VisitTampaBay for working with us to help define the specifications for these widgets in preparation for launching them on the Tampa Bay & Co. Website.

We’ll be posting a self-serve page shortly where you can go to grab the code for the widget and add it to your site.  If you can’t wait and are interested in getting one sooner drop me a line at jim@costtogo.com and we’ll get you hooked up!

Happy Driving!

Route-Based Targeting; The New Frontier?

My route Obsession

Several years ago as I was planning a car trip for me, my wife and teenage son from Washington, DC to Sarasota, FL, I faced the all-too-common challenge of trying to figure out where to stop along the route.  Using Google maps I plotted out the route and then eye-balled some of the likely stopover points based on  the larger names that appeared on the map. Hmmm, Savannah, GA always sounded like a neat place to visit, lets make that one of the stops.  None of the other names incited any interest and so it took a good bit of research to finally settle on St. Augustine, Florida for our other stopover.  We’d stop at St. Augustine on the way down and Savannah on the return trip to DC.

I remember thinking that this was a rather inefficient way to plan a trip, and that there must be many great cities to visit and sites and attractions to  see along this route (besides of course South of the Border).

The problem then occurred to me;  driving directions have blinders on.  They don’t illuminate all the great possibilities along a route. Even though some sites like AAA TripTiks and MapQuest are attempting to solve this problem,  they have no sensitivity to distance so they serve up the same information whether you’re traveling 2 miles or 2,000.  This has implications on many fronts, and so it seemed like a very worthwhile problem to solve.  Thus began what I now refer to as my route obsession.

When you look at our flagship site Cost2Drive.com, you’ll see evidence of this type of thinking.  For example, when a user enters a route we surface the cheapest flight found on Kayak for that route, but only if its over 200 miles in distance (it’s distance-sensitive).  We also view routes not as simple origin-destination pairs (a very flight-centric view of the world) but as a corridor with many wonderful things to see and do in between.  For example, we plot out the refueling points along the way, not only to identify the cheapest gas prices at those points, but as a visual cue to users of where they’ll likely need to stop.  The trip-planning process logically unfolds from there.

This is all enabled by the Galculator, our route-aware technology that powers all of the C2G applications.  With hundreds of startups focusing on location-based targeting, we see a vast new frontier emerging in a related field, one that we call route-based targeting.  We feel we’ve only scratched the surface on this exciting opportunity, and as the peak summer travel season approaches you’ll see some more examples of how we’re feverishly working to remove the blinders from driving directions, both for travelers and advertisers alike.

Happy Driving!