As a car owner, you’re subject to several ongoing costs — regularly scheduled maintenance, annual inspections, insurance and, of course, fuel. Learning how to save money on gas is a time-honored tradition amongst drivers, but it becomes an even bigger focus if you’re about to take a long road trip where fuel costs will add up. The good news is that saving money on gas doesn’t have to be daunting. Let’s look at a few strategies to save money on gas on road trips.
1. Routing the trip through states with lower prices
You may be aware that prices for goods and services vary by region and gas is no exception. This means with a bit of planning and foresight, you can potentially route your trip to go through states where gas prices tend to be lower than the national average. So when it comes to gas money, you may be able to slightly reduce the allocation within your road trip budget.
2. Driving along highways
While we’re on the subject of routing, it may be helpful to try to route a lot of your driving along major highways and interstates. This lets you drive at consistent speeds without a lot of starting and stopping, which helps improve your overall fuel efficiency.
3. Not refueling just off the highway
Speaking of highways, while driving along the interstate does help with fuel economy, gassing up at a station right off the highway could hurt your wallet. These gas stations may rely on their convenience to be able to charge a little extra for the same gallon of gas. You may be able to get a better deal by driving just a little bit further away from the highway.
4. Using apps to find gas deals
So, you’re off the highway and looking for some cheap gas. Thankfully, mobile apps can help you do just about anything these days, including helping you locate cheaper gas prices. There’s a plethora of apps available to help you compare gas prices near you, helping you find a better deal and save money on gas by driving to a different gas station just down the road.
5. Being frugal at expensive stations
Sometimes, necessity gets in the way of your best-laid plans. There may be times where you can’t spend time looking for a gas station with lower prices. You can still exercise your frugality though. Instead of filling up all the way, consider just topping up enough gas to safely get you to the next area, where prices are hopefully more affordable.
6. Prioritizing car maintenance
Your car gets better gas mileage when it’s been properly maintained (it’s safer too). Inadequate tire pressure, for instance, can cause a noticeable increase in fuel consumption. Before heading out on a road trip, be sure to check off important items on your car maintenance checklist. Even the things that aren’t directly related to fuel efficiency can still go a long way towards making your trip generally smoother.
7. Traveling light
The more weight your car is hauling, the harder it has to work. In turn, that burns more gas. Having some luggage on your trip is necessary, but if there’s any extra weight in the car that you don’t need, removing it could boost your fuel economy. Additionally, if it’s possible, avoid using roof storage racks as they not only add weight but also alter the aerodynamics of your car by creating additional drag.
8. Using rewards and loyalty programs
This is generally dependent on the card you have and may not always be applicable, but some credit cards offer occasional discounts and rewards on gas purchases. There are also some grocery chains and buyer’s clubs that offer members gas “points” that are redeemable for a discount at the pump. You may not always be able to take advantage of these programs, but it doesn’t hurt to inquire.
9. Choosing the right car
If gas consumption is a big enough concern for you on your road trip, you may want to consider the vehicle you’ll be taking. While some people prefer to drive their own car on a road trip, there’s nothing that says you can’t rent something specifically for that trip. Renting an electric car, for instance, may help eliminate a lot of your concerns about gas money, but you’ll still have to look out for charging stations along your route.
10. Using public transportation when you can
If you’re planning to take a trip to a major city with bustling public transport, one great way to save money on gas is to ditch your car when you arrive at your destination. Exploring the city on foot or using local public transport not only helps you save on gas, it also lets you see a whole other side of the city and maybe even stumble across some hidden gems.
Finding out how to save money on gas is a top priority for most drivers, but it becomes even more important if you’re getting ready to go on a road trip. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to be frugal with your gas costs even when you’re spending large chunks of the day on the road. Apps to find better prices nearby and a bit of clever routing can go a long way toward conserving gas money. You can also shed any excess weight from your car and keep it well-maintained to maximize your fuel economy.