7 Top Road Trip Money Saving Secrets
By Bruce Hokin
Road Trips are all about having fun with the family. These savings tips are designed to offer safe, fun-filled, less expensive road trips. Ready to start? Let's go.
Secret #1. Prepare snacks before you start out.
You could purchase fruit bars, chips, healthy drinks and other snacks from your local supermarket, rather than buying them from a roadside service station at inflated prices. Tip - you can also use these as treats or prizes when playing road trip games with the kids (see Secret #5 below - printable road trip games).
Secret #2. Car checks
It is important to check the fluid levels and other items on all the car's systems before leaving home. These checks can save you breaking down on a lonely stretch of road, late at night... The major checks are listed below:
1. Radiator - check fluid level in the radiator (not when the radiator is hot!) and also the level in the radiator overflow bottle.
2. Brake Master Cylinder - check that the brake fluid level is at the "Max" mark. Important - only use the manufacturer's specified grade if adding brake fluid.
3. Automatic transmission - check the level of automatic transmission fluid is at the correct mark on the dipstick. Important - only use the manufacturer's specified grade if adding automatic transmission fluid.
4. Power Steering - check the level of power steering fluid in the power steering fluid container. Important - only use the manufacturer's specified grade if adding power steering fluid.
5. (for a manual transmission) Check the clutch master cylinder reservoir to ensure clutch fluid is at the top mark. Important - only use the manufacturer's specified grade of clutch fluid.
6. Check that the battery terminals are clean and the connecting cables are tightly fastened to the terminals.
7. Windscreen washer fluid - make sure this is full.
8. Radiator Hoses - when the car motor is cool squeeze the top and the bottom radiator hoses. If the hoses feel a little tough to squeeze and they spring back to their original shape quickly then there are most probably no problems. If however, you hear crackling noises from inside the hose or it feels really spongy, it is most probably time to change the hoses.
If you need a second opinion do not hesitate to get your local mechanic or radiator specialist to check things over for you. It's better to have this important system working well before you start than have it fail, stranding you and the family and possibly damaging your motor.
If you do not feel confident checking all these items you could get the car serviced, checking with the mechanic that all these systems are OK.
Secret #3. Car Driving Techniques
The whole idea of this article is to offer you money saving tips and hints. One of the major costs of road trips if fuel. The way you drive, the way you pack the car, tire pressures and the amount of luggage you pack can all have a marked effect on your fuel consumption. Let's check out a few of these below:
Packing - try not to pack anything on the roof (in a roof rack) if at all possible. This can increase you fuel usage by up to 5 mpg.
Speed - try to stay at a steady speed, preferably at or less than 55 mph. If you travel at 65 mph your fuel usage can increase by up to 8% and more as you travel faster.
Easy on controls - drive to anticipate road and traffic conditions. If you can reduce the sudden acceleration and braking by being more observant you will save fuel and give the passenger a more comfortable ride.
Tire pressures - inflate to manufacturer's specification before traveling too far. Under-inflated tires can have a marked impact on fuel usage - increasing it by up to 6 mpg.
Secret #4. Coupons
If you plan a little in advance and save coupons (or print them out from the internet) you may save on fuel costs, accommodation, fun park entry fees and meals.
Secret #5. Printable kids games
Bored kids can sometimes ruin an otherwise great road trip. You may wish to download some games the whole family can enjoy. These will entertain the kids and interaction of the whole family will make the time pass quickly. You can find some free games download links at my website. See author bio at the end of this article for the link.
Secret #6. Use correct fuel
Only use the type and grade of fuel recommended by the car's manufacturer. Running on premium grade when the car does not need it, is a waste of money.
Secret #7. Be seen and be able to see clearly
Before you leave ensure that all exterior lights lenses on the car are clean and all lights are working properly. Also clean the inside and outside of all car windows so that your vision is not impaired by road grime or bugs.
I trust that these tips will save you money and help you have a safe, fun road trip.
Bruce Hokin writes about car money saving tips and DIY car maintenance. You can get a free road trip checklist, many car money savings tips at Car Savings Advice and printable road trip games for kids at Road Trip Games.