Tips on how to stretch your travel dollars this summer

Whether you're buying gas, driving a hybrid, or going electric, there are ways you can cut costs and get more miles for your buck. Fuel prices tend to rise in the summer but you can pay less if you pay attention

Summer time is road trip time. But it doesn't have to mean a big fuel bill

Peter Boyer cut his gas expenses by buying an electric car. Now he's a true convert.

"I get a better driving experience because an electric car is much more fun and easier to drive and I save money by plugging it in at night and filling it up for less than five dollars," Boyer said.

The downside to an electric vehicle is range or how far you can go on a single charge. Boyer says his Nissan Leaf gets about 80 miles before it needs to be plugged in. But that's where his other electric car comes in. Tucked into the garage behind that Leaf is a Tesla.

"This is a dreamboat to drive," Boyer said. "This has much less range anxiety, if that's a problem for someone, than the leaf, this car is designed to travel between 265 miles and 300 on a full charge."

That comes at a price. If you can get one, it will set you back about $90,000. But there are cheaper ways to save money going electric and it starts with a phone call. Philip Reed is a senior editor at Edmunds.com.

"We've done studies that show that at least a third of the people that buy electric vehicles or plug in electric hybrids do not make that call to their power company so they're really ignoring the possibility of saving a great deal of money ">

We made that call and found out PG&E is rolling out lower rates in mid-July, making it cheaper to charge an electric or electric-hybrid car. You'll get the best prices if you charge overnight when demand is lower

If you want to stay away from the pump, but you're nervous about the limited range of an electric car, Reed says consider a hybrid in a family friendly style

"And they afford, you know, the best of both worlds," Reed said. "Lots and lots of room and space but also fuel economy that borders on 50 miles per gallon."

If you own a hybrid or gas loving car, Reed says the single best place to cut costs is to stop driving erratically -- no hard stops and starts. That will save up to 35 percent of the gas in your tank.

And don't be afraid to buy the cheapest gas available. Reed says it won't hurt your car.

"That's right," Reed said. "The composition and chemical composition of gasoline right not is very closely controlled by the EPA in the different states so the quality of gas is really very good."

Here is another tip -- try to avoid piling things up on your roof rack. Reed says changing the aerodynamics of your car will cut your fuel economy significantly. If you really want to crunch the numbers and figure out exactly what you'll spend or save no matter what you drive, there are websites that will help you do it.

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