Road trips were once the obvious choice for budget-minded families looking to go on vacation. But with today’s skyrocketing gas prices, a vacation via car doesn’t necessarily equal significant savings. Fortunately, there are several ways you can save money on gas when you’re traveling on the road. So whether you’re taking your own car or using a rental, make sure to put these tips into practice to save gas on your road trip.
1. Drive a Smaller or More Efficient Car
One of the easiest ways to minimize your gas use on a road trip is to downsize to the appropriate vehicle size. While you want to have enough room to be comfortable, you don’t want an excessively large car for your trip since bigger vehicles require more gas. Driving a smaller vehicle may not make a huge impact if you’re driving across town; but on a long road trip, those savings add up fast.
Sometimes you need a big car for a road trip, whether it’s to haul camping gear or a small herd of kids. Even if you’re driving a larger vehicle, you should try to pick one that’s efficient if possible. Fueleconomy.gov is a great website to use if you’re trying to compare fuel economy for vehicles. This tip can be especially helpful if you’re trying to decide which rental car to borrow for your trip.
2. Check Your Air Filter
This is a possible money-saving tip that many car owners overlook. According to The Daily Green, nearly one in four cars is in need of a new air filter. Find out if your air filter needs to be replaced. Putting a clean air filter in your car can improve your gas mileage by up to ten percent.
3. Align & Inflate Your Tires
This is another important car maintenance tip that can lead to gas savings. When your tires are not aligned properly, your engine has to work harder. Get your tires checked before a road trip and you may get significant savings when it comes to your gas costs. Similarly, many cars have under-inflated tires that cause a drop in fuel efficiency. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated before and during your road trip to boost your fuel efficiency back up where it should be.
4. Remove Unnecessary Cargo
Extra weight in your vehicle leads to extra spending on gas. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, your MPG reduces up to two percent for every 100 pounds in your vehicle. Remove excess cargo before a road trip to keep your vehicle more efficient.
5. Use Cruise Control
Maintaining a constant speed allows your car to be more efficient. When you utilize your cruise control setting on the highway, you’ll save gas on your road trip.
6. Avoid Idling
Idling your car is a waste of good gas. Unfortunately, many drivers do this too often because they think it uses more gas to start the car back up. If you’re going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, you should turn off your engine. Waiting any longer than that will use up more fuel than it would take to restart the car. Along the same lines, you don’t need to “warm up” your car before driving it, so there’s no need to idle while you load up the car.
7. Slow Down
Aggressive or erratic driving is bad for your car’s fuel efficiency. Smooth, constant speeds and gentle speed-ups and slow-downs are the way to go if you’re trying to save gas. In addition, consider adding some back roads to your road trip route. Highways may get you there faster, but every MPH over 60 costs you a lot more in gas per gallon. Try slower routes in order to get the most out of every dollar you spend on gas.
8. Look for Hotel Deals
Some hotels are cashing in the surge in road trips. If you plan to utilize hotels along your road trip, be sure to look for promotions that involve gas giveaways. Some hotels are offering gift cards for travelers as a way to bring in more business.
9. Find the Best Gas Prices
Today, there are great websites and apps available to help you track good gas prices. AAA’s TripTik and the GasBuddy app are just two examples of these tools that can help travelers save money when it’s time to fill up.
10. Join a Rewards Program
Plenty of gas stations offer their own rewards program for frequent customers. Similarly, some credit card companies offer rewards or even cash-back opportunities when purchasing gas. Look into these options before your trip to get more savings at the pump.
Road trips can certainly be a more affordable and fun way to travel, especially for families with a budget in mind. Keep these tips in mind if you want fewer stops for gassing up along your route. You’ll save money and you’ll also be doing something good for the environment while you’re at it.