Even in the time it takes to write this, the price of gas continues to climb and families on tight budgets are becoming even more aware about how they spend their money on travel.

Heading into the warmer months and vacation season, the operative word will be how to save and get the most out of your buck. If you don't mind the no-frill approach to flying, there are budget airlines to consider. One airline we recently used served no free snack or beverage with the flight and the airport it flew into was small. If you don't require the A-1 personal service, this may be your ticket when trying to save some money.

The higher fuel prices climb, the more we will be guarding our wallets. We would hope that extends to some of our elected officials in Washington. As leader of the free world, the president's use of Air Force One is one thing, but we wonder if the present gas crunch is affecting the flying habits of other elected lawmakers like Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Information on the former House Speaker's use of a United States Air Force aircraft between March 2009 and June 2010 was published in the Judicial Watch Verdict of December 2010, Volume 16, Issue 12. Over 95 percent of the trips during the 16-month period were between Washington, D.C. and her home in California.

The guests on some of the flights included a number of the Pelosi clan, including her children, grandchildren, various in-laws and friends.

The 85 trips during the 68-week span – that's an average of 1.25 trips per week – cost the taxpayers $2,100,744.59. That also breaks down to $27,715.00 per trip or $1,285,162.00 per year.

It's apparent that Rep. Pelosi doesn't go for the no-frills approach on her coast-to-coast flights. The tab for her food and alcohol on those flights came to a staggering $101,429.14. That comes to $1,193 per trip or $62,051 per year.

The bar was well-stocked with the best wine list as well as scotch, rum, vodka, brandy, beer, rum and whiskey. In one single year, the Pelosi contingent consumed enough alcohol on those flights to surpass the net salary of the average working American.

Therein lies the great divide between some of our out-of-touch leaders and their constituents, who they were elected to serve. Results of the last election should have served notice to Pelosi that Americans are no longer willing to pay such a crazy open tab for her or any other free-spending Washington elitists and their families or personal entourage.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com