Paying the price

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Cathy Jones of Portales fills up her car Wednesday. She lives in Portales and commutes to Clovis for work. Jones plans to stay home Memorial Day weekend, but said she might have taken a trip if gas prices would have been lower.

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

People are making travel plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and summer in spite of record-high gas prices nationwide.

It is a reflection of the current trend, according to Jeannie Chavez, AAA New Mexico spokesperson.

“We Americans, we really love to travel and we love our vacations. Most people will not do away with them,” she said.

People find alternative ways to control their budgets and compensate for the higher fuel cost, she said.

Cheaper hotels, taking meals and snacks along on roads trips or planning one-stop vacations at amusement parks and other attractions are some of the ways travelers are curbing costs so they can afford to drive.

For 18 consecutive days as of Wednesday, New Mexico experienced record-high gas prices, similar to prices across the nation.

Gas on Wednesday was running around $3.38 a gallon in Clovis and $3.40 a gallon in Portales.

As long as demand continues rising, so will prices, Chavez said, because refineries do not have the capacity to meet the growth.

Vicki Babilonia of Clovis said she and friends have plans to spend a night in Lubbock this weekend. It’s something they do from time to time, she said, especially on long weekends.

They all agreed to pitch in to pay for gas, Babilonia said.

“Usually I paid for (gas),” she said. “This time I asked (them to help) because gas prices are so high.”

She is not alone. Many local residents are still making plans despite gas prices being the highest they have ever been.

City employee Debbie Musick said she too will travel to Lubbock for the weekend. She usually travels on Memorial Day weekend and this year will be no exception, she said. She just planned a little further ahead to compensate.

“I’m going out of town and it’s not going to bother me. You got to press on,” she said.

Gas prices are a consideration in plans, she said, but she refuses to let that stop her.

“You can’t change it, you can’t do anything about it,” she said.

Vivian Grimes also made plans for the weekend. She said she will be traveling to Ruidoso with family. It was a spur-of-the-moment trip and they didn’t really consider gas prices too heavily in their plans, she said.

A self-described homebody, Leslie White said she has no plans and intends to hang around the house this weekend, though she said gas prices would affect travel plans if she had made them.

“If I had any to begin with, I probably would have canceled them.”

Fuel-saving tips

Consistent preventative maintenance increases gas mileage. Fixing a vehicle noticeably needing a tuneup can improve fuel efficiency 4 to 40 percent.

Keep tires properly inflated. A single tire underinflated by as a little as 2 pounds per square inch increases a vehicle’s fuel consumption 1 percent.

Clean out the junk in the trunk to save 1 to 2 percent for every 100 pounds removed.

Replace the gas cap if it is not fitting properly.

Premium, high-octane fuels aren’t necessarily better for a vehicle and don’t provide greater fuel efficiency. Check your vehicle’s manual for the proper gas to use.

Plan trips: Consolidate errands for shorter trips.

Racing an engine to warm a vehicle wastes fuel. Every mile per hour over 55 reduces fuel efficiency 1 percent.

Source: AAA New Mexico