ROAD TRIP!! There is something about the allure of the road;the freedom to be spontaneous, to take that side road just because you decided in the spur of the moment that you couldn’t possibly miss the world’s biggest ball of string or the museum of gum wrappers, or you just have to taste some local barbecue or explore that hidden waterfall. The opportunity to view the world and enjoy the scenery close and up front is often irresistible. But even though it may seem like a more affordable mode of travel, a road trip can still be more pricey than what you had anticipated, especially with gas prices on the rise. Well, we can’t steer you clear of potholes, but we can help you avoid some of the steep prices with these tips on how to save money while keeping your eyes on the road.
Off season. Just as it is with any other mode of travel or vacation planning, traveling during the “off season” will be a big money-saver on everything from lodging to renting a vehicle to park admissions and tourist attractions.
Book Early. Especially during the “on season.” This applies to hotels, parks, camp grounds, etc. It also applies to renting an RV. The earlier you book, the better deal you may be able to secure.
Consider a travel agent. Travel agents often have special promotional packages available to them that you cannot find elsewhere.
Go for smaller when renting a vehicle. Consider the size of your party and the amenities you’ll need, then determine the smallest vehicle you can rent to accommodate that. The smaller the vehicle, the more you’ll save on rental costs and fuel costs.
Rent RV time in bulk. Check the rental packages for buying your time in bulk, they are often better rates.
Check the RV or car rental company’s terms on mileage. Know before you go. There may be limits and penalties. Some discounts may apply to in-state only travel. Ask if any mileage discounts or specials may apply to the trip you are planning.
Avoid Purchasing Extra Equipment. Unless you are going to be doing this type of travel often, it may not be worth it to purchase extra equipment like bike racks and camping equipment. Check with your RV or car rental dealer to see if they offer packages which may include such equipment. You may be able to find good deals on this type of gear from other sports and camping equipment rental companies as well.
Rent an RV direct from an owner. You may be able to save mark-up fees and extra charges by renting a vehicle directly from the owner. One site which does this: 2RVGuys.com. Another which may also have mobile homes available is homeexchange.com which specializes in swapping homes, apartments, boats, and sometimes recreational vehicles.
Be sure you’re getting the most out of your vehicle. Before you leave and frequently during the trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition, some estimates indicate that a poorly tuned engine uses up to 50-percent more fuel than one which is running well. Make sure your tire pressure is correct; low air pressure can be a considerable gas waster.
Easy does it. You’ll save wear and tear on your vehicle, and save on fuel costs (and traffic tickets) if you keep your speeds under 60 mph; make your accelerations easy and smooth, and ease into stops. Heavy on the pedal and blasting quickly from traffic signal to traffic signal burns up the fuel fast!
Overpacking the car can be a real fuel drain. The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it requires, so keep it light.
Food and snack shopping at pricey service stations and convenience stores add up; shop from farmer’s markets or grocery stores to create your own light meals, snacks and drinks.
Watch out when using your debit card at gas stations, they may withdraw more than the amount of your purchase to hold on deposit until after the transaction is completed by the bank.
Use the proper grade fuel for your vehicle. It’s not worth using a supreme-grade fuel if the manufacturer doesn’t specifically require it or if the car is performing well on regular-grade fuel without engine knocks or lugging.
Service stations in the U.S. change prices between 10:00 am and noon. So keep in the know on price trends; if prices are on the rise, get there before 10:00 am, and if prices are dropping get there after noon.
Gas prices usually rise on the weekends. If you can, try for weekdays to fill your tank.
Use gas finding apps to locate cheaper stations nearby, andkeep in mind if you’re driving a heavier vehicle like a camper or RV, it may not be worth driving too far out of your way.
Gas discounts can be had from various sources. For example, some super market shopper loyalty programs have partnered with gas companies and your accumulated grocery shopping reward points are good toward fuel discounts at those stations. Another discount resource: save an easy 10% off your fuel bill if you purchase gas gift cards in advance from a discount gift card site like ShopAtHome.com or GiftCardGranny.com.
Lodging. Even though you might be staying in your vehicle you may still need to secure a reservation in a campsite, trailer park, hotel or motel along the way. Try to plan ahead for those, particularly during the traditionally busier times of year as parks can often be booked several years in advance. Check the internet, or road assistance groups like AAA, for coupons and special discounts.
Make sure you have a good road-side assistance program. The small monthly premiums of these programs can save you thousands of dollars in towing and repair fees, and can be well worth it for the convenience alone.
Insurance. Check with your car and homeowners or home renter’s insurance company to find out specifically what you and your vehicle will be covered for. Depending on your existing coverage, you may or may not need an additional Traveler’s policy for the trip.
Anytime you are making a reservation for anything – ask, ask, ask. Ask if that’s the best they can do for you, and if there are any special offers or discounts that are being offered which you may not be aware of.
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