The Long Trip: Five Ways To Save Money On A Multi-State Road Trip

A few months ago, I wrote about four techniques for saving money on road trips: performing maintenance before you leave, minimize your distance, pack snacks before you leave, and research gas prices before you leave. These are useful for planning your trip in advance, but here are five additional ways to maximize your cash while you’re actually on the road.

Use your cruise control. This is an effective technique in multiple ways. Not only can you lock in your speed to ensure that you aren’t ticketed, keeping your speed near the speed limit on long legs also improves your gas mileage.

Settle in behind a large vehicle. Get in behind a semi, get your speed roughly matching theirs, and pop it into cruise control. You’ll really cut down on gas mileage because the large vehicle in front of you cuts down on wind resistance, thus requiring less energy use to maintain the speed you set.

Require that all passengers use the bathroom when you stop. This minimizes the chance that little Joey has to use the bathroom about fifteen minutes after you get back on the interstate. Even if everyone in the vehicle is an adult, if you stop, everyone gets out and uses the bathroom. Even if it extends your stop by a minute or two, it saves time in the long run if it prevents a stop.

Avoid cities at rush hour. If your planned route takes you near the core of a large metropolitan area near rush hour, plan another route, even if it’s suboptimal, to avoid that urban center at that time. In the past, I’ve gone more than 50 miles out of my way simply to avoid a leg near O’Hare in Chicago at about 5 PM.

If you do need snacks, stop at a supermarket. You’ll save a huge chunk of money on food at the grocery store versus a convenience store, the selection is substantially better for choosing healthier items. If you’re concerned about time, have the driver dump everyone out at the grocery store and then pick them up after fueling.

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