When it comes to traveling, driving by car is by far the predominate means of transportation. Studies regularly peg automobile travel at more than 80 percent, then bus and truck travel comes in at 8 percent, making the total of overall U.S. highway transportation just south of 90 percent.

Airline transportation makes up most of the rest of travel with around 10 percent, then rail and ferries flesh out the remaining less than one percent of our transportation system. [Source: Wikipedia]

These overall travel statistics frame the discussions going on in Washington and state capitals about how to deal with financing the national and state highway system. The Wall Street Journal just presented a story about options for raising revenues to cover shortfalls in highway funding.

Here are the major alternatives to the gas tax:

    • Taxing consumers by miles driven
    • More toll roads
    • Indexing the current gasoline taxes to inflation
    • Taxing oil, not gasoline
    • Taxing cars

The bottom line is that the current way we are taxing for highway usage is not meeting financial demands.

What struck me was a nationwide chart of gasoline taxes across the country. The illustration showed a disparity of taxes that range from 26.4 cents per gallon in Alaska to 67.7 cents per gallon in New York and California.

From a tourist’s point of view, traveling to the states that offer the lowest gasoline tax per gallon makes economic sense. Here are the bottom 10 states boasting the lowest per gasoline taxes with some of their top tourism sights.

50. Alaska 26.4 cents (Anchorage, Mt. McKinley, Kenai Peninsula)
49. Wyoming 32.4 cents (Yellowstone National Park)
48. New Jersey 32.9 cents (Cape May, Atlantic City)
47. South Carolina 35.2 cents (Charleston, Hilton Head)
46. Oklahoma 35.4 cents (Indian reservations, Rte. 66)
45. Missouri 35.7 cents (St. Louis, The Ozarks, Branson)
44. Mississippi 37.2 cents (Natchez Trace Parkway, Vicksburg)
43. New Mexico 37.3 cents (Santa Fe, Taos, Chaco Canyon)
42. Arizona 37.4 cents (Grand Canyon, Tombstone, Monument Valley)
41. New Hampshire 38 cents (Mt. Washington, fall foliage, Portsmouth)

Anyone who has traveled by car knows that when crossing state borders, gasoline prices can vary dramatically. It only makes sense to travel where one can enjoy the tourist sights for the best value.

Photo: Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons by goldberg