The Price of your Passions

Picture: A pair of Recreational Vehicle campers traveling along a desert highway, near Death Valley, California

I love to drive. But it’s quite the new reality here in the U.S., with summer fast approaching and record gas prices already here- and still climbing; $3.89 at my local station today, $0.05 higher than last Saturday. I’m getting set to do some traveling myself, and it is interesting to see how I’m trying to adapt my plans based around the rising costs. For instance, starting work on a new book project years ago, I thought nothing of taking dozens of short 4-5 day trips, clocking up the miles in true road warrior fashion. Now I find that I’m trying to get as much done as I can in fewer trips. Sometimes the thought of pouring so much cash down the fuel tank in tight economic times can be depressing. I try not to think about it, or else I use various rationalization strategies. Sometimes it works to help keep things in perspective, sometimes not so much. But I am a travel photographer, and the price of travel is part of the price for chasing my passion and talents.

I’m curious, how are you handling the current economic realities of getting out and doing what you want to be doing, like traveling somewhere to take pictures? Do you just keep on as you had been doing? Are you making fewer trips, staying closer to home? I’d love to hear some other perspectives.

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6 Comments on “The Price of your Passions”

  1. Inge Fernau Says:

    I had plans for several photo safaris in spring, summer and fall. I rent a vehicle for my travels and now I don’t rent an SUV if I don’t need it. I try to rent cars with good gas mileage. I use Google Earth to lay out my trips and check around if dirt roads are passable by passenger car. I will only rent an SUV if snow is expected or I will drive some dicey dirt roads. I was laid off from my full time job Feb 11 and now work as a contractor (no benefits), so when I don’t work I don’t get paid. After not traveling long distances since the fall of 07, I recently did a day-trip as far as Carrizo Plains and back to the SF Bay Area. The rental was $38.- (free weekend day) and gas was $95.-. It does sting when you stop for gas! The following weekend I did an overnight trip to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve area, rental was $66.-, hotel was $89.- and gas was $156.- OOOUCHHH!!
    This past weekend my son drove me in his 4Runner to Yosemite (I paid for gas $116.-), considering the miles, that did heart.
    I have to shorten my plans for photo safaris to one more trip in May, then a break until the fall. Fall trips will be one week and maybe one additional weekend.
    I have been taken short day trips into the wine country with my daughters Camry and will take a few more in the summer. Coastal trips between Halfmoon Bay and Santa Cruz are also a possibility with the Camry.
    I thought of car-pooling with other Photog’s but I am just not sure how that would work out. I hooked up with other Photog’s before, but we always had our own vehicles and that a little more freedom on where to go.

  2. Richard Wong Says:

    I have six days open from Thursday til next Tuesday and considered several trips. 1. Bay Area. 2. Northern Coast. 3. Yosemite. But then I considered the price of gas for those trips, none of which would be less than 1,000 R/T and more like 1,500 – 2,000, and the desire to rent a car since my car is getting up there in mileage and I have no desire to replace it anytime soon. So transportation alone could cost well over $500.

    Then I weighed all the other longer term things I want to do. Upgrade
    my gear $XXXX, start an IRA account, catch up on the stock photo backlog, some So Cal shoots.

    I came to the conclusion that I’d be happier in the long run if I hold off
    on the trips until I get the other stuff out of the way first. I think
    this is a realistic way that other folks are probably considering these days
    as well. It’s not as simple as getting in the car and going anymore
    because everything costs more from insurance to transportation to housing to inflation. Even for someone that is on a book assignment, I’m sure you’re finding yourself having to stretch your money further now than before.

  3. Peter T. Says:

    I’m basically adjusting the same way Inge is.

    When gas prices were lower, I would more likely rent an SUV if I was going to a place where travel on dirt roads was probable. Now I’m sticking more with just driving my economy car, a Ford Focus.

    The Focus will usually get about 32-35 MPG on long trips especially on winding two-lane highways where I usually stay traveling between 45 to 65 mph. (On Interstates — where I’m tempted to drive a bit faster — the mileage drops down slightly to about 27-30 MPG.

    – Peter

  4. Chris Kayler Says:

    Being young and poor, I’ve been sticking closer to home most of the time. I just can’t afford to go on long road trips, however much that sucks. If I do go anywhere, I plan on staying a few days by car camping so I don’t have the expense of going back and forth. Additionally, I think my next car will be the Honda Fit, which is the 2nd highest EPA rated totally gasoline powered vehicle (right behind Toyota Yaris, which is a 2-door hatch and overall not as appealing to me). With the higher MPG’s, I’ll be more inclined to travel a bit. Still, I imagine things will only continue to rise and soon having an econocar in the future will be like having an SUV today!

  5. John Wall Says:

    Even when I’m home, we think of everything we need to do before getting in the car and try to get it all done in one trip. For photo trips, last week I hit Shell Creek, Carrizo, an elephant seal overlook on Hwy. 1 and Big Sur. This weekend it’ll be Jepson Prairie, Cosumnes River Preserve and Yosemite. Definitely can’t keep that up, though. Gas = 1/2 x rent? Yikes! Spring is always tough. You want to be out all the time. I’m definitely torn. I’ve even considered selling my vehicle and becoming a strictly urban photographer (I live in San Francisco).

  6. Alan Majchrowicz Says:

    I’m definitely rearranging my trip schedule. Like you I would take many 2-4 day trips. Now I’m only going to plan a couple of longer distance trips this year with the rest staying closer to home. In addition these trips will last around 2-3 weeks and might not happen at all if the weather doesn’t cooperate. I can’t afford to go out if the odds are against coming home with some good work. It certainly is putting a lot more pressure on an already difficult job.

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