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Costco is quietly the perfect road trip pit stop

Mary Meisenzahl   

Costco is quietly the perfect road trip pit stop
Retail2 min read
Cars line up to fill their gas tanks at a COSTCO at Tyvola Road in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 11, 2021.     Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images
  • Costco doesn't advertise itself as a road trip stop, but it's a key part of my ideal road trip.
  • The big-box store has discounted gas and food, plus clean bathrooms.
  • I stopped at several Costcos while driving 2,000 miles around the country, and I'd do it again.

There are plenty of reasons to be a Costco member, but here's another in time for any final summer vacation: Costco is the perfect place to stop on a long road trip.

My fiance and I took a nearly 2,000-mile road trip at the beginning of summer, and we stopped at Costcos all around the Midwest on our trip. Here are three reasons I tell everyone taking a road trip that they should stop there, too.

1. Gas prices

Gas is one of the biggest expenses on a long road trip, so it's key to get it cheap when you can. Costco is known for having some of the lowest gas prices in the US. In 2019, Insider found that Costco was the cheapest chain for gas in 21 of 50 states.

In the Rochester metro area, where I live, GasBuddy says the average price of gas is $3.17 per gallon, while it is only $2.89 at my local Costco right now. Like its famous rotisserie chicken deal, low gas prices are another deal that gets customers on Costco property, where they might buy higher-margin items.

As an added bonus, in my experience, Costco stations are well-lit and have an attendant, which makes me feel very safe. On our road trip, the attendant would even give us a treat for our dog.

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2. Budget-friendly snacks

Maybe you planned ahead and stocked up on snacks before you hit the road. Either way, the Costco food court is a great place to stop when you're craving something a little more substantial. For just $1.50 you can get a hot dog and a soda, at the same price Costco has sold it for since 1985. They're popular for a reason - in the 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of about $226.5 million.

The menu was limited for much of 2020, but now other items are back too, including ice cream, smoothies, and churros.

3. Clean bathrooms

Finally, if you're already there for gas and lunch, you might as well stop to use the bathrooms too. Costco bathrooms tend to be clean and spacious, and you're much less likely to run into a line than at the highway rest stop.

Just make sure to check the store's hours, because they sometimes close as early as 6 pm on weekends.

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