Who doesn’t love a good road trip?
That wonderful feeling of driving along the highway with the wind blowing on your face and the radio blaring some great tunes really is hard to beat.
Plus, travelling by car is the best option when it comes to having the most freedom.
Just within the US alone there are so many places to visit that you’d gladly spend a couple of bucks on gas to travel there.
From the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, to New York’s Times Square, Balboa Park in San Diego and Hearst Castle the list goes on and on.
And with gas prices averaging at $3 per gallon, travelling by car is still cheaper compared to plane tickets.
Check out how you can make it cheaper still with these great tips about the best ways to save money on gas during a road trip.
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#1 Plan Your Route
The first tip is to plan your routes to avoid traffic jams.
Traffic jams increase idle time and idling causes you to waste 1/7 gallon of gas per hour. Not so much in small quantities, but it does all add up.
You should also avoid rough roads as much as possible to avoid stressing your engine and wearing out your tires.
Strategically planning your route with the use of a good road map is the best way to avoid traffic and rough roads.
Just don’t forget to ask someone who’s good at navigation to hold the map for you, you want to keep your eyes on the road while driving!
#2 Go Easy on the Luggage
Quite simply, heavier loads mean higher fuel consumption.
Therefore, avoid bringing too much luggage if you want to keep fuel costs low.
If simply can’t do without a lot of belongings, why not remove one of the unused seats at the back of the vehicle to keep the weight down.
Or you could try ditching the bike rack if you don’t plan on bringing a bicycle.
It’s also worth checking your trunk for items that you may have forgotten. Anything that doesn’t need to be there should be removed so that your vehicle is as light as possible.
Taking your vehicle to an auto shop to check your tire pressure, plus any signs of wear and tear is a great way to keep your fuel costs down on a road trip.
A worn-out or improperly inflated tire leads to higher fuel consumption and you should also ask the mechanic to check and refill the brake fluid and transmission fluid too.
It’s also a good idea to perform an oil check, as well as inspect the air filter. A dirty air filter affects how your engine works and contributes to higher fuel consumption. Incorrect engine oil may also cause your engine to work harder and waste gas.
Tuning-up your car before travel not only helps in fuel economy but avoids breakdowns.
Why not check the car battery, wires, air conditioner and engine for warning signs too? You don’t want to end up stuck on the road after all!
#4 Buy Gas Wisely
Did you know that gas prices are lower at the start of the week?
Gas is also denser when it’s cooler such as early in the morning.
Therefore, make sure you purchase your fuel at the start of the week and early in the morning. This way you don’t spend more on gas.
It is also best to fuel up before you start your trip so you don’t have to stop often at a gas station.
Gas stations have too many tempting restaurants and shops, so stay out of them as much as you can if you’re looking to save money.
In addition to this, fuel prices may differ per city or state and out of the way gas stations are also always more expensive.
As such, I recommend an app called Fuelzee that you can download to your smartphone. Check Fuelzee and see where you can buy the cheapest fuel nearby.
#5 Stick to the Speed Limit
As you drive faster, gas mileage decreases. If you want to save on gas therefore, the simple trick is to avoid speeding.
Each car has its own optimal fuel economy depending on its speed, so don’t go beyond it.
On the other hand, driving at a moderate speed is safer. Plus, a speeding ticket is expensive!
#6 Utilise the Cruise Control Feature
Most cars now have a cruise control feature that helps you maintain a moderate speed, especially on highways.
Cruise control also makes you more relaxed while driving, which means not having to step on the gas pedal too hard.
#7 Avoid Sudden Starts and Stops
Sudden starts and stops both increase what is known as drag and this greatly affects fuel economy.
It also adds extra strain to your tires that cause them to wear out.
That is why you should drive within the speed limit to make sure you avoid making hard stops and wasting fuel.
Don’t be too excited when stepping on the gas pedal. You’re not in a racing competition so don’t waste gas pretending that you are!
#8 Schedule Your Driving Times
Driving when the weather is cooler is a great idea if you want to keep your rod trip fuel costs low.
Cooler weather brings cooler air to your engine and prevents it from overheating. This lessens the stress on your vehicle and results in better fuel economy.
Cooler temperatures also mean you can skip on the air conditioning and drive with the windows down instead.
As such, scheduling your road trip earlier in the morning, and planning your pit stop around lunchtime when the sun is too hot, is a great idea.
#9 Perform Maintenance Checks
When you stop to take a rest from driving, park your car in a cool and shady area.
Then, before driving, check the tire pressure again.
Friction causes heat and heat causes your tyres to swell.
Therefore, checking whether the tire pressure is still within the proper range is a great way to main fuel efficiency.
As such, I always recommend travelling with a tire pressure gauge in your car.
#10 Pack Wisely
Packing wisely does mean making sure you have enough food for pit stops so you avoid buying from fast food chains. Sandwiches, fruits, chips, nuts and even rice meals make great road trip snacks.
It’s also a good idea to pack emergency supplies such as raincoats, a portable jump starter, jumper cables, emergency lights, flashlights and even a car jack.
These items are very handy in case of emergencies.
But how do they help you save on gas money?
Well, the simple answer is that having these supplies means you won’t have to drive an unfamiliar route just to get them if you find yourself in need.
In this way, packing wisely not only saves you gas money but money on expenses too!
Check out TripHobo for some more great ideas about how to plan your trip.
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If you opt for a road trip during your next vacation, then it’s likely fuel will be your number expense.
However following the tips above will certainly help keep this cost down without sacrificing a lot of things, or giving up your comfort.
So, if you’re having second thoughts about that road trip because you’re tight on the budget – go ahead now! Grab the bull by its horns, take out your map and start planning!
Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends!
Who knows, someone may be preparing for a road trip and find this article helpful!
David, is the man behind CarUnderstanding.com.
He is passionate about cars and RV living, so check out his blog to learn more about your vehicle, how to maintain it and how to get it ready for your amazing road trip!