Road trips can be great fun, but with fuel prices so high, taking one may not seem like a good idea. Fortunately, there are ways to conserve gas and keep fuel costs down. Here are some tips.

Travel light

Depending upon how long you plan to be on the road, you may not need more than a couple of bags. Those bags, however, can weigh a lot, which can create drag and reduce gas mileage significantly. When packing, keep in mind that for every extra 100 pounds you carry, you lower your gas mileage by 2%. Pack as light as possible, and whatever you do, do not carry the load on top of your vehicle. Doing so can reduce gas mileage by up to 21%.

Choose well

If you own only one car, then the choice of vehicle may be a no-brainer. If you own more than one, however, or have access to others, then you should think through the decision carefully. Choose the roomiest, most fuel-efficient model you can find to ensure a good trip for all. If you own a gas-guzzler, consider renting a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The savings in fuel and wear and tear on your own vehicle may more than make up for the cost of rental.

Get an inspection


Whatever vehicle you choose, have it inspected before you take off. Make sure it is road ready, in particular, the oil and tires. Have the oil changed, the fluids topped off and the tires inflated and rotated. Double-check that the tread is in good condition and the spare is good to go. If you are traveling in extreme conditions, make sure the heater or air conditioning system is in working order.

Go at a good time

Try to travel at non-peak times. There will be far less traffic to contend with, which will allow you to drive more efficiently and save fuel. If you‘re lucky, the weather will be better and you can shut off your air conditioner and save even more gas.

Drive efficiently

Avoid hard braking, excessive idling and constant starts and stops. Keep your foot off the brake until you are ready to use it. Slow down, drive at a steady pace and use cruise control when possible.

Fuel up right

Do your homework and know where to get the best fuel prices. Use cash instead of credit cards to avoid extra fees. Use the lowest grade of gas your vehicle can handle. Tighten the gas cap and consider trading it out for a gas cap with a lock to deter thieves.

Keeping fuel costs down on road trips is not impossible. Implement the tips above, even on jaunts around town, and you’re sure to save.

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