Road trips! I love them. Memorial Day is usually the nation’s first warm weather holiday and lots of folks hit the road. Here are 3 tips to help you shave a bit off the cost of that trip.
Save on gasoline.
You can shave your costs on gasoline by doing a few simple things:
- Accelerate and brake slowly. The US Department of Energy thinks you can save $ .18 to $1.19 a gallon by not stomping on the gas and brake pedal. Accelerate slowly and steadily and lift your foot off the gas pedal well ahead of that stop sign.
- Use the cruise. Edmunds reported an average 7% increase in efficiency by using cruise. It evens out acceleration.
- Drive a steady, slower speed. Slower speeds save gas, according to CNN Money article Take it slow and save big on gas.
Save on travel food.
Eating at fast food and restaurants along the way and buying expensive snacks and drinks during excursions can add up fast. Think about using the following tips.
Buy one of those inexpensive disposable coolers and throw it in the car (or use your own cooler) and load it up with favorite picnic foods – like lunch meat, cheese, yogurt, fruit, raw veges and more.
You will eat healthier, faster and cheaper – especially with kids along. Take along non perishables like pretzels, granola bars, crackers, peanut butter and etc to round out the meal and to use as snacks along the road or as you visit attractions.
Back in the day (you probably couldn’t do this now), Dad used to attach a can holder inside the hood next to the manifold and put a can of beans or vegetables in it as we rolled down the highway. Half an hour later we would stop for that picnic and have hot beans.
- Use a camp stove. Pick up a Coleman camp stove at a thrift store or garage sale and pack it along with the fuel. You can have a hot breakfast or supper roadside or in the park.
- Bag your own ice. This won’t save you much, but you can start the trip using the ice out of your own freezer. I usually start bagging mine a couple of weeks before the start date.
- Stock your own drinks. Take along non-perishable fruit juice individual servings, soda, water and throw a few in that cooler each morning.
Save on lodging.
A place to rest your heads at night can be one of the most expensive parts of the trip.
- Stay with relatives. Staying with relatives was Mom and Dad’s all time favorite way to sleep when we went on any kind of vacation. Of course, you’ll want to return the favor when they come to your house. Don’t forget to pack a hostess gift for them and write a nice thank you note afterwards.
- Camp out. This one isn’t my favorite, but a lot of people enjoy pitching a tent and getting back to nature. Tents and sleeping bags are a sunk cost, but you can enjoy them for years.
- Find cheaper motels. Consumer reports suggests the following:
“Skip the toll-free booking number; call the hotel directly and talk about room rates with a clerk. Inquire about discounts through AAA, AARP, and similar programs, and ask whether any specials or package deals are in effect.”
Know the lingo:
Another tip from consumer reports is to phrase your request in the right lingo. Instead of asking for the lowest rate, ask for the “cheapest nonrefundable rate” , but don’t book it unless you know you won’t need that refund.
- Wait until the last minute. My daughter in law swears by trying to snag last minute deals. As they near the town of their choice, she starts calling motels to find a room for that night. This is similar to what my parents did back in the 1950′s. We would drive until it was near dark, then Dad would pull into each motel along the route to check out their rooms and rates. Some nights we slept in the car, because no rooms were to be had, other nights we had great rooms and some nights Dad had to just walk away from the room because it wasn’t clean or safe!
Don’t try this one when you are going to a popular destination. National park lodges, for instance, are typically booked up months in advance. Try for a last minute room in one of them and you will be sleeping outside with the bears!
How do you plan to be thrifty on your Memorial Day travel? Share your tips in the comments please.