Whether you are commuting across town or planning a road trip across country, we all want to do it with the lowest possible expense to our wallet. With just a little planning and patience you can save big with our Money Saving Driving Tips.
Avoid the Rush
While we can’t ALWAYS avoid the rush hour, there are some ways that you can save time and gas by planning your drive time to avoid the worst of the crush. According to the Department of Energy’s 2020 Fuel Economy report, “Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use.” While most of us assume the shortest distance is going to be the cheaper alternative, if traffic is heavy, it could cost you more. Consider other longer routes instead. You may alternatively drive a few miles out of your way to avoid congestion but use less gas and still save money.
- Invest in Navigation & Built in Traffic Alerts – With your vehicle’s navigation system or manufacturer travel apps you can set alternative routes that will help you either save time, money…and in a perfect world BOTH. Consider Ford’s optional Navigation system, SYNC® 3 or Subaru SiriusXM Traffic® option on their TomTom™ Navigation system. Both deliver SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link® services via satellite from SiriusXM (with subscription).
- Use Traffic Apps – If your vehicle is not equipped with a built-in navigation system, don’t worry…you have alternatives. Traffic apps such as Waze ™ Navigation and Traffic App, Google™ Maps, and Apple ™ Maps offer similar features. Like the built-in traffic alerts in most navigation systems, these traffic apps will alert you to accidents, roadwork, congestion delays, as well as, offer alternate routes and estimate your arrival time. With Apple CarPlay® or Android Auto®, you can easily follow the directions without taking your eyes off the road.
- Travel at off-peak times – If you have the flexibility to travel off peak, this can save you time, money and aggravation. Additionally, if you maintain the average speed limit of 55 to 65 mph and avoid aggressive driving, you can improve your fuel consumption by as much at 30% (https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.jsp).
Pre-book Your Stopovers
If a longer trip is in your future, consider shopping around to get the best bang for your buck on hotels, rentals, entertainment and meals.
Credit Card Award Programs – If your favorite credit cards have an incentive program that will offer you savings on hotel rooms, meals, attractions or fuel, you could save on every aspect of your trip. But be careful! Plan to pay off these vacation charges as quickly as possible so you don’t wipe out your initial savings with unnecessary interest fees.
Look for Extra Perks – Consider what you are getting for your accommodations before you book. While one deal may have a lower daily room fee, you may be paying for breakfast, wi-fi, entertainment passes or for your younger travelers. Look for deals that include breakfast, shuttle services to attractions, free wi-fi, and a “child stays free” option that works with your family’s needs. Not every package is perfect for everyone, so take the time to pick the one that is best for you and your family’s preferred activities and length of stay.
Take Advantage of Rest Stops for Breaks
Next to fuel, one of the biggest expenses when traveling is food. According to Livingonthecheap.com, in 2021 “The average cost of food per day on a road trip could start at $40 per adult if you buy all meals and snacks out.” For a family of four, you’d be out $160 a day living on fast food, soda and chips. Rather than cave to the temptation of the convenience of drive-thru fodder, consider planning ahead.
- Pack a Picnic – Take the time to plan and pack more nutritious and budget friendly meal alternatives. Roadside rest stops and service areas offer picnic tables and facilities for families to pull over and enjoy a meal without having to drop a dime in a vending machine or food kiosk. You could cut your daily meal expenses by 30% if you just replace one meal a day with something homemade.
- Entertainment on the go – Whether you enjoy reading, listening to music or even doing word searches, make sure to pack entertainment for the drive ahead of time. Purchasing books, activity/coloring books, and games at service centers or souvenir shops could cost you up to 30% more per item than purchasing it ahead of time.
- Visit Welcome Centers – We’ve all seen those big roadside signs welcoming travelers as they cross state lines. In most cases, a Visitors Center is not too far down the road from there. While you may consider them “hokey” or “cheesy”, they are also a great resource for discounted tickets, coupons, and expert knowledge of some local best deals you may not have found online. Take a few minutes, stretch your legs, and explore the Welcome Centers to find good deals to save you a few dollars.
Fill Up & Check Up Before You Hit the Interstate
With the national average for gas climbing this summer, getting the best deal on a gallon is an essential part of saving money on your trip. Typically, prices are higher at gas stations when the demand is high and the access is low. This would include large cities such as New York (Manhattan), Los Angeles and Chicago as well as Service Areas on major highways. Besides gas, make sure your vehicle is in good running condition. Unexpected breakdowns, flat tires and vacation crippling accidents can not only ruin your trip but can be hard on your wallet.
Compare Prices – Before you hit the road, look for the least expensive gas prices on your route. Services such as Subaru’s TravelLink® and Fords SYNC® 3 can automatically locate gas stations by either their distance from you or the price per gallon of fuel. Apps such as Gasbuddies.com offer an easy comparison of prices and also set by your parameters.
Invest in Roadside Assistance – If your vehicle does not have a roadside assistance service (either through your warranty or your insurance), then you should consider investing in one of your own. A membership with AAA (American Automotive Association) offers you a wide variety of services including roadside assistance and towing. This cost-effective level of insurance will be extremely valuable should your vehicle break-down while on your trip.
All in all, it is easy to incorporate any or all of our money saving driving tips into your daily drive. If you are looking for more ways to save, consider stopping into one of our Flemington Car & Truck Country dealerships. With locations in Flemington, Clinton and Princeton, NJ, our team can help find other ways to save you more money before you hit the road.
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