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Road Tripping USA – Spend Less on the Boring Stuff!

The following is a guest post.

Drive Economically

  • Turn off the AC, or at least use it wisely (if you think you’re going to be spending a lot on travel insurance, compare these stats): Especially when you’re driving around town, the average increase in fuel consumption when you turn the AC on is 10% – a huge increase when you consider all the miles you’ll be doing! When driving at 40mph or slower, it’s definitely more economical to have the windows down than have the AC on (so a good alternative for when you’re driving around town). However, at speeds over 45mph, the drag caused by having your windows down causes fuel consumption to increase by 10%, too, going up to 20% at speeds above 55mph, in which case it’s much better to switch back to the AC, or leave it off altogether.
  • Turn off the four-wheel drive: it needs more gas to run than just using two wheels, simple as that.
  • Coast towards stop signs and pull off again gently instead of burning rubber – it burns gas!
  • Keep your tires amply inflated: this will decrease friction and drag, which cause excess gas consumption.
  • DO NOT SPEED: it wastes gas, and the fine will probably decimate your budget (especially if you’re in a rental car – they usually slap on a big admin fee, too).

Stop the snacks.

If you’re sitting in a car most of the day, then chances are your body won’t really need snacks in between mealtimes – so try and steer clear of them wherever possible. Buying a dollar-bag or two Cheetos and Doritos ever day or every other day will very soon add up. If you really must buy snacks, buy multipacks and reap the savings that way – and be sure to ration how many you eat, otherwise you’ll end up piling on the pounds and spending way over the odds on snack food!

Don’t do drive-thrus.

Apart from the fact that it’s going to destroy your guts and make for an unpleasant journey for you (and your fellow passengers, if you catch my drift), treating yourselves to regular drive-thru or eat-in fast food meals (McD’s, In and Out, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc. etc.) will weigh on your tight road trip budget – and why eat at chains you know and love when you should be sampling the local stuff wherever you go? It’s often tons cheaper, home-cooked and just generally better. Get off the main drag and lookout for earlybird offers, cheap street food and even supermarket food for picnics along your road trip.

Camp out in your car.

Don’t pay to camp – just pull off onto the roadside and stretch out under the night sky. Of course, if you don’t like camping, your car isn’t conducive to sleeping in, or the weather’s going to be too bad, get yourself down to, where there are around 40,000 like-minded, adventurous people worldwide waiting to put you up on their couch, and tell you all about the local area.

Seek out the best gas prices.

Don’t just drive around blindly – try and plan, as far as possible, where you think you might have to stop off for gas along your road trip route. It might sound like a big ask, but if you’ve planned your road trip, there isn’t any real reason why you couldn’t do this. Pull off at large cloverleaf interchanges, where you’ll be able to compare gas prices at several gas stations there. You might also be able to pick up some kind of loyalty card from one of these gas stations, or even from an affiliated supermarket. You’re going to be doing a lot of miles, so make sure you make the most of them and don’t end up wasting a ton of your road trip budget.

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

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