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Business Math: How to Calculate the Cost of Gas for Traveling

Knowing the cost of your travels, whether for work or personal reasons, is very important. Some people focus mainly on the federal reimbursement rates to gauge how much their remuneration will be, but being able to calculate your actual expenses in advance is equally as important. Calculating the cost of gas before you leave is a great way to budget yourself by simply finding out how much this trip will cost you.

Some may think that traveling by car would be more cost-efficient than arriving by plane; however, that’s not always the case. In order to accurately assess the cost of your trip by car, you’ll have to do some calculations. There are three important factors you need to know in order to calculate the cost of your trip: your vehicle’s gas mileage (MPG), the number of miles you’re going to travel, and the current price of gas in the regions you will roam.

Need to know how to calculate the cost of gas for your travels? Read more:

Gas Mileage

First, you’ll want to calculate your car’s gas mileage. Most vehicles come with some sort of manual that explains how many miles-per-gallon (MPG) your car gets. Older cars, such as a 1995 Volvo, may get around 17 MPG in the city and 19 MPG on the highway, but different makes of newer cars are much more efficient and have a higher MPG. The higher the MPG, the better gas mileage your vehicle gets. This means that you’ll have lower gas costs on your trip because your vehicle is using less fuel.

If you can’t find your vehicle’s MPG in the manual or online, you can do some calculations to figure this out. First, I want to mention that your car’s MPG can vary based on the way you drive. Most cars have a lower MPG on city streets, where they’re frequently stopping and going, than when they’re driving on the freeway proceeding at a constant speed. To get the most accurate estimate, you’ll use the following equation: miles driven divided by the gallons used to refill the tank.

Follow these steps:

  1. Fill up your car’s gas tank completely
  2. Note the number on your odometer
  3. Drive your car until gas is required again
  4. Fill up your tank completely and note your odometer reading again
  5. Subtract the first odometer reading from the second one. This number will show you how much you’ve traveled.
  6. Now divide that number by the number of gallons it took to fill up your tank. That’s your MPG.

For example, if you drove 300 miles and you ended up using 15 gallons of gas in your overall trip, you would use the equation 300/15=20. In total, your car averages about 20 MPG.

Travel Distance

After you’ve figured out your car’s MPG, you can calculate your travel distance. This is fairly easy. Using a map service, such as Google Maps, you can figure out the exact distance of your trip. By typing in your starting point and end-point the map service will show you the exact distance of your trip. 

For example, if you traveled from San Francisco to Bakersfield, you would travel about 283 miles.

Cost of Gas

The cost of gas truly depends on the location of your travels. Gas prices range all over the country, sometimes even from city to city, so there’s no way to get an exact cost of gas for your trip, unless you only need to use one full tank of gas or if you end up purchasing gas that costs the exact same price throughout your travels. 

To get an estimate of gas prices, you can use AAA’s national gas price estimate.

Calculating the Cost of Gas on Your Trip

Now that you have the three most important numbers, you can do the math. First, you’ll divide the distance of your trip by the miles per gallon in order to find out how many gallons of gas you’ll need. Then, multiply the number of gallons you’ll need by the price of gas. Once you do that, you’ll know the approximate cost of your trip.

For example, let’s say that your car gets 20 MPG on average and your trip is about 689 miles in distance. First, you’ll divide 689 by 20, and you’ll end up with 34.45. You’ll need 34.45 gallons of gas for your trip. Next, multiply 34.45 by the cost of gas. Let’s say the cost of gas is $2.45/gal. 34.34 multiplied by 2.45 is 84.40. The cost gas on your trip will be $84.40.

Knowing the cost of your trip is very important when you’re budgeting or when you simply want to know how much your trip is going to cost. Overall, the math is pretty simple; however, if you want some help, you can use this handy gas mileage calculator to figure out exactly how much you’re going to spend.


Need to track more than the cost of gas? Timesheets.com lets you track your mileage and calculates reimbursements for you. This is great for businesses that constantly have employees traveling for work. It makes the reimbursement process so easy. Let us do the math for you! Get started for FREE now:

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