There is a long weekend coming in two weeks! Wahoo! How are you going to take advantage of it? Trip to the beach? Bowling? A Bonfire? Definitely not labor, at least. That’s the last thing we would want to do on Labor Day. How about a way to relax while getting out of the house, and exploring the world around you? Yes, we’re talking about a road trip. We have mentioned road trips in previous blogs, and now there is a perfect opportunity to take us up on our suggestion. A road trip doesn’t have to cost much either, as long as you follow these tips and tricks:
Get Your Gas Cheap
You won’t be able to travel anywhere if you don’t have any gas in the tank. It’s not always cheap either. On a long road trip, sometimes it seems if just burning all the cash in your wallet as fuel is more productive than continuously filling up on gas. Luckily, there are several free apps that can help. The most popular gas app would have to be GasBuddy. It’s simple enough. Users write in the app the price they just paid for their gas. When they post their gas price they get points. When they get enough points, they are entered into a weekly drawing for a $100 gas card. And when you are looking to fill up the tank, the app will give you the cheapest gas station closest to you.
Now, being an avid Waze user, I can validate the useful not just of Waze’s gas prices, but of the app as a whole. It is a GPS app run by the entire community that uses it. When navigating to a location, you can edit the map so report traffic jams, accidents, police cars, and, like GasBuddy, gas prices. All these are located into Waze to send you to your requested destination the fastest way possible. When it comes to gas prices, when you want to navigate to a gas station, Waze brings up a list of gas stations close to you. Each listing gives the gas station’s name, distance from you, and the price per gallon. If the price is high the cost will be in red. If it’s reasonable the cost will be in yellow, and if the price is a steal, it will be listed in green.
Lastly, another useful option is Gas Guru. Unlike GasBuddy and Waze which are crowd sourced, this app is consistently updated with information from the Oil Price Information Service, so you will never have incorrect, out of date information.
Keep Your Gas Reserved
Now that you have your gas, let’s not let it go to waste so fast. First, keep the air conditioning off as much as the temperature will allow you. Having it on can increase the fuel cost from 13% up to 21% according to the California Consumer Energy Center. While the air conditioning is off, let’s keep the speed down, shall we? Let’s not forget this is a road trip. We are not trying to hurry anywhere. We want to lounge in the car seat while taking in the moving, picturesque images of America. No need to speed down the trip a day or two shorter. Driving at the tolerable and reasonable speed of 55mph can cut the fuel cost by 25%.
Make Sure Your Car Is In Tip Top Shape
How fun will your trip be when you’re broken down on a deserted highway in the middle of the night two states over from home? Whether you are using your own car, borrowing a car, or renting a car, make sure the vehicle is in the best shape of its life before you embark on your adventure. The windows should be cleaned, the oil should be changed, the tires checked for correct air pressure, and all lights are bright, clear, and work well.
Make and Pack Your Food
A $15 meal at a diner three times a day is going to add up. A $5 meal at a fast food restaurant three times a day is not what the doctor ordered. Packing quick meals in bulk will save time, gas, and quite a deal of money. Filling a cooler with drinks, snacks, and cold cuts may be the most resourceful option for you.
Drive Away From Tolls
It can cost a buck, but it can also cost upwards of $30. Stopping at all these toll booths can be a real inconvenience and be an annoying road block to your trip as well. You can skip over them by programming your GPS to avoid tolls. Be careful with this option, though. Sometimes the length to avoid a toll road may be more expensive from wasted gas than it would be to just pay the toll.
Reside in Cheap Lodging
It’s time to get in contact with your college roommate’s ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s cousin that owes you a favor from that one time years ago who now happens to live along the way to your destination. Lodging expenses are likely to be the biggest cost of the entire trip, so try to obtain free bedding as many times as you can. If there is no way to get a free night’s stay somewhere, go to sites like Hotels.com to find out locations that have the cheapest night’s stays along the route. Safe travels!
For more tips on how to save for a Labor Day road trip, you can read the full Go Banking Rates article.