5 Tips for Saving Money on the Road


Drive Frugally

The ultimate road trip is without rules. That's why you're out there -- the yellow line stretching to the horizon in both directions. OK, that's not all true. There is one rule: Don't rush. Rushing makes a leisurely road trip not at all leisurely. It also makes your trip more expensive.

For example, each mile an hour you go over 60 is like paying an extra $0.10 per gallon of gas [source: PlanetGreen]. Likewise, trust your cruise control -- it is your friend put on this Earth not only to promote blood flow to your right heel but to staunch the flow of dollars from your wallet. In addition to inducing vomit and/or aggravating the need to pee, alternately slamming the gas and the brake is like having a leak in your fuel tank.

Then there's the age-old debate: windows down or AC? Windows down creates drag, but the AC uses power. (This was even the subject of a MythBusters segment.) Basically, while opinions vary, general consensus is that at highway speeds, you're better off running the AC, while at speeds below 45 to 50 miles per hour (72 to 80 kilometers per hour), you're better off with the windows down.

Here's another alternative: Drive when it's cool. By reeling in miles in the early morning and evening hours, you can avoid both the drag of open windows and the power suck of AC.

Finally, consider renting a car. In 2011, AAA estimated the cost per mile of driving an SUV at $0.76, if you drive 15,000 miles (24,140 kilometers) a year [source: AAA]. Now multiply this by the average miles/kilometers per day you'll drive. Compare this to a rental price: daily charge plus gas. Which is less? If renting a car is cheaper than driving your own, go for it -- knowing that at the end of your trip, your own ride won't be sullied by the smell of chili dogs and gas station espresso drinks.

For more information on budget travel, visit the links below.

Related Articles


  • Catchpole, Karen. "Gas-saving road trip tips." Travel + Leisure. May, 2011. (Nov. 3, 2011) http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/gas-saving-road-trip-tips/1
  • Doell, Linda. "Save money on a road trip without giving up the fun." Daily Finance. May 19, 2011. (Nov. 3, 2011) http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/05/19/save-money-on-a-road-trip-without-giving-up-the-fun/
  • House, Laurel. "Road trip? 10 easy ways to save gas and money." Planet Green. March 18, 2011. (Nov. 3, 2011) http://planetgreen.discovery.com/travel-outdoors/road-trip-10-ways-to-save-gas-and-money.html
  • Lauziére, Geneviéve & Schaller, Bob. "The art of the cheap road trip." Roadtrip America. Dec. 19, 2004. (Nov. 3, 2011) http://www.roadtripamerica.com/travelplanning/Cheap-Road-Trips.htm
  • Moon, Alice. "How to plan a cheap roadtrip." USA Today. (Nov. 3, 2011) http://traveltips.usatoday.com/plan-cheap-road-trip-12155.html


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