5 Tips For Beating Gas Shortages

Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call to many Americans. It was a reminder that many of the things we take for granted can become difficult to obtain in a time of crisis. Gas was no exception.

After Hurricane Sandy, many areas were experiencing ongoing gasoline shortages. This is due to many reasons: Difficulty getting gas shipped where it’s needed, port closures, enormous demand as people have to power both generators and cars. It all added up to a big, aggravating mess.

If such a storm ever hits in your area, how can you avoid being stuck in line for two to four hours to gas up? Here’s some advice…

#1) Avoid Using Gas Where Possible

It seems obvious, but anything obvious really is worth repeating: If you don’t have to drive, don’t. If you can carpool, take public transit, or ride a bike, do it. It may be inconvenient and not very fun, especially if you’re not used to using these systems.

But really, if you think about it, so is sitting in line for hours to get your vehicle gassed up. Of your options, it’s likely to be cheaper and less stressful to simply avoid burning gas in the first place.

#2) The Early Bird Gets the Gas

Call gas stations in your area and find out when they open, or if they’re open 24 hours, what the off-peak times are to get fuel. Be warned: This is likely early, early in the morning, or late at night. Or, perhaps, sitting on the cusp of the two. Either way, if you want the gas, be prepared to show up early and get it.

Be aware that you likely won’t be the only one doing this, so it might be a good idea to ask how many calls that gas station has gotten, and to find the off-peak times for more than one station in your area.

#3) Go Out of Your Way

One of the central problems the northeast was having was that while demand for gas was sky-high, many gas stations and convenience stores were simply unable to sell it. They didn’t have power, or shipments were late, or any of a myriad of other problems were making it impossible for the gas station to do its job. So, instead of waiting at the station you know, break out Google Maps and find gas stations that may be off your beaten path.

#4) Use Gas Apps to Find Less-Than-Ideal Prices

Sometimes you have to swim against the flow of demand. For example, gas prices are generally higher in the New York and New Jersey area due to the problems we mentioned, but you can also use them for a contrary purpose: Finding the highest priced pumps, which may have shorter lines.

True, it’s not an ideal solution, but it really comes down to how much your time is worth and how stressful you find the lines. Paying more may not be feasible or ideal, but if you’re pressed for time or sick of waiting, it might be worth a try.

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