This is a sponsored post on behalf of Shell, in which I was compensated. All opinions are my own.

I must have been born with rubber in my veins because the road – both dirt and paved – seems to call to me. It’s a form of freedom enjoyed here in America that, sometimes, we take for granted. The ability and pleasure to move about as we see fit and at-will is a glorious one.

We are barely outside the statistical norm for California families as we have three cars. After Chelsea and I got married, our first major purchase happened on the day I was hired for my first job out of college. A nice little 2011 Hyundai Elantra was acquired to get me to-and-from the workplace. The papers said it was blue, and under the dealer lights it looked the part, but every now and then I'm on the receiving end of a joke about how I drive a purple car. Either way, as the family grew, we decided not to part with our landmark purchase. It’s fuel efficient and makes a great low-volume commuter.

Gas savings, shells and shade

The second purchase was a truck. For me, it was a must-have since we live in the country. This was eventually followed by our Chrysler Town and Country van, as Chelsea seemed to be in no rush to stop having babies. In the midst of all of this, she and I have been known to put down a few miles.

Gas savings, shells and shade

Actually, we spend a great deal of our family time driving to awesome locations to give the boys a greater understanding of the world they live in. The value of the road is understated and underestimated, as you see so much more of the little intricacies that make each area and environment great. It’s how I learned that the desert has so many flowers!

Gas savings, shells and shade

As our annual mileage has increased and our fuel types diversified, we've become pretty severe brand loyalists with our fuel selection. We’ve learned – from lessons passed down and lessons learned – that quality fuel and economy matter. So we're incredibly excited to announce Shell gas as our newest sponsor! Their stations are found and trusted all over the United States and North America. Their fuel quality and consistency keep me coming back. No matter where I am in the country, I don't have to fear variance. And back home, it’s even where I get my three cars washed. It was on one such outing recently where I discovered *Fuel Rewards® and Shell’s Instant Gold Status. Honestly, Chelsea's always been more of the coupon-y type, but I'm the one usually pumping the gas. She happened to be paying attention this time. “Did you just try to put gas in without entering your rewards info?” she admonished me. Apparently, I could simply swipe a card or enter a number and magically be paying less for our fuel.

Gas savings, shells and shade

While I'm admittedly not the most thoughtful about saving money, I do enjoy paying less. Pretty much all the time in the world of shelling out my cash, less is more! Chelsea explained that she registered our credit card with the Fuel Rewards app so we earn rewards like 10¢/gal for every $50 spent at participating merchants or up to 20¢/gal for every $50 spent shopping online with participating merchants, as well as a 5¢/gal “Instant Gold” reward on our first 20 gallons just for joining (that reward level sticks around if we fill up six times within three months, which is pretty dang doable for us).

Gas savings, shells and shade

Now that I was fully topped off, I took the boys to one of our local vehicle-friendly beaches here in San Diego and towed along our adventure trailer. Honestly, I'd been getting a little down on myself about the amount of time I've been able to spend with them and the fact that we hadn't taken advantage of all that southern California has to offer this season. It even struck me that Bam had never been to a beach! With Some Boy now out of his first year of school for the summer, the heat is on for me to make the most of free time with them. That was something I never had to do before.

Gas savings, shells and shade

I pulled off the pavement and onto the sand. I took a moment to vector out the best alignment for the trailer and shade and executed ‘operation park the truck.' The kids were bouncing around like dogs waiting to be let out on a leash-free park, but I got them settled down and we were all super happy to finally hang out in the sun. A quick change from street clothes into waders and rash guards with a touch of sun block, and we were at it!

Gas savings, shells and shade

All in all there were a number of valuable lessons learned today. First, being able to take shade with you is a plus – especially with a baby! Second, you can dig hard and long in sand but if waves are coming, it’s going to wash away. So choose your trench-digging spot carefully. That brings me to my third lesson: select your fuel station wisely, because it can pay off! Instant Gold Status makes quick trips like this more valuable since I can now worry less about saving at the pump. Now I'll focus more attention on keeping happily-tracked sand out of my truck and storing a treasure trove of discovered sea shells.

Gas savings, shells and shade

Stay tuned as we share our adventures with Shell throughout the rest of the year, including some insider tips on how you can maximize your savings to make the most of your exploration time!

Has your spouse ever shared any helpful savings pointers with you?

Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.