Update: This post was included in the Best of Money Carnival over at Sustainable Personal Finance!
Summer is quickly approaching and for some couples and families it’s vacation season. Flying to your destination may not be feasible, but that doesn’t mean that a long and hectic road trip is on your agenda. Driving may be a great way to enjoy your vacation – as long as you’re prepared.
Deciding on the Destination
First up is deciding on where to go for your next road trip. If you’re not quite sure of where you want to go or you’re looking for things to do, here are some wonderful sites:
I love trying out different cities and seeing what they have to offer. This fall we’re planning on going to Chicago, so I’m using some of these sites to get some places to check out.
Preparing Your Car for Your Road Trip
The last thing you want to worry about is your car breaking down and costing you an arm and a leg to repair. We prefer renting a car for our longer trips, but if that’s not your plan then make sure you’re ready.
- Make sure your fluids are taken care of. Double check your motor fluid levels, windshield wiper fluid, transmission, and your engine coolant.
- Check to see if your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can increase tire wear, increase your chances of being in an accident, and increase your gasoline costs.
- Prepare for emergencies. If you haven’t already, make sure your emergency kit is ready and it’s packed in your trunk. To make it easier to prepare for road problems, there are some pre-made emergency car kits to get you started.
Planning for Stops
If you plan it correctly, driving to your destination can be a wonderful adventure in itself.
- If you need it, get your maps ready. Having a GPS is handy, but I still like having a physical map in my hand. We’re driven through locations where we lost signal and it’s frustrating. If you have a kids it’s a great way for them to get familiar with an area and to learn to read maps.
- Find the right spots to grab a bite. Don’t just stop at a fast food chain. Discover new spots by using sites like RoadFood. It’ll break up the long drive and you may discover a new favorite meal.
Keeping Your Gas Costs Down
There are ways you can keep your gasoline expenses lower this summer.
- Be consistent with your driving speed. Don’t have a lead foot when driving. Stop and go driving decreases your fuel efficiency. Try to maintain your speed when you’re driving on the highway. Try to use cruise control when it you can to help you be steady with speed.
- Keep your car light. Less weight means better mileage, so remove any junk in your trunk. Having a heavy load can take its toll as you drive around town.
- Take advantage of your smartphone. Check apps like GasBuddy and AAA TripTik Mobile can help you find the best gas prices locally. I remember one gas station was ridiculously higher than another station less than a mile away. since it was closer to the exit, most people stopped at the pricier station which was a rip-off.
These tips have saved us some money at the gas pump. I hope they can help you too.
Thoughts on Road Trips
I’m hoping we can a weekend trip or two in before the baby arrives. I love the beach and the weather has been gorgeous lately. How many of you go on road trips for your getaways? What are some tips that you have for those traveling? If you’re parent, do you have tips on keeping everyone sane?
Photo Credit: kevindooley