Heading out for a road trip, or maybe even just a weekend get away? There are a few things you can do to make your dollar stretch farther. Some will save you a little money, some a lot, and some may have you rethinking your entire trip. But first, to help organize your trip and compare potential expenses, put together a budget.
Now you’re ready to determine the best way to hit the road.
For instance, have you considered traveling by rail? You get to gaze out at the passing scenery while arriving at your destination refreshed and ready to enjoy your vacation. If you can’t bear the thought of vacationing without your own vehicle, you can take the Auto Train between Florida and Virginia. This transports your vehicle along with you, you still get to enjoy the experience of the train ride, yet have your own car ready for you at the “end of the line”. Or, you may find it cheaper still to rent a car upon arrival on the train.
Better still; consider the train travel as your vacation. There are a number of interesting, historical, and breathtakingly spectacular trips you can experience by rail. You will never be stuck searching for the cheapest gas station or figuring out the best driving route.
If you want to drive, keep in mind that every 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mileage by as much as 2%, according to an Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency website, Fueleconomy.gov. Also, to reduce aerodynamic drag, keep luggage inside your vehicle instead of strapping it to your roof.
Saving on car rental will help offset the cost of gas. Check websites that search for discount coupons on car rentals. If you are willing to take a risk, consider booking rentals through websites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com. You’ll get a discount, but sometimes you won’t know what company you are renting from until you pay for the rental.
This One is a No Brainer: Avoid Traffic.
Google Maps, which can be downloaded to any smartphone, offers an at-a-glance display of road conditions in major cities to help find the best route around congestion. This way you don’t burn up extra fuel in stop and-go traffic.
Look around for gas-related incentives. For instance, a coastal resort town located midway between two major cities may be promoting “car free” deals with Amtrak discounts and hotel bargain prices. Some hotel chains offer gas cards or rebates from $10 to $50, depending on the package and length of stay.
Don’t Forget Your Smartphone.
Really, what would you do without your smartphone on your trip? There are lots of apps that help users find the cheapest gas on the road. GasBuddy.com is one of the better applications for iPhone and Android users. It even tells you the estimated drive times to gas stations in your vicinity. You can search by GPS location or zip code to get a list of gas stations sorted by price. Another option the AAA’s mobile app, which bundles services for motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparisons.