The average domestic airfare for the week of Thanksgiving is up 10 percent over last year, and Christmas-week airfare is up 9 percent. So it’s no surprise that almost half of American drivers say they plan on taking a road trip during the holiday season.
Even though the average price of a gallon of regular in the U.S. was hovering around $3.41 in mid-November driving has benefits for travelers who want to visit friends and family without breaking the bank.
If you’re planning to drive this holiday season, it may be a good time to review some common-sense driving tips that can help keep your car in good condition – and save you money along the way.
- Get a tune-up. For many of us, cars are one of our most valuable possessions. Before embarking on a long drive, make sure your tires are properly inflated, use the recommended grade of gasoline and replace clogged air filters. Not only can simple maintenance help avoid bigger problems down the road, it can also increase fuel efficiency by 10 percent or more, according to a recent article in AARP.
- Watch your speed. For every five miles per hour you drive over 60 m.p.h., you pay almost 25 cents more for each gallon of gas, according to the AARP. Similarly, rapid acceleration can lower gas mileage by as much as a third. And of course, while driving the speed limit saves you money at the pump, it can also keep you safe – and help you avoid costly speeding tickets.
- Consider a rental car. It’s no secret that some vehicles, like SUVs, use a lot more gas than other cars. If your car uses a lot of fuel, you may want to rent a vehicle that gets better gas mileage for a long holiday drive. And if you rent a car, make sure to check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers rentals. Many policies automatically extend coverage to rentals, letting you avoid paying for duplicate coverage, according to an article on USNews.com.
- Plan errands in advance. Whether you’re running out to shop for gifts or picking up relatives at the airport, combining multiple trips can help you save time and keep your gas consumption in check. Starting a car with a cold engine can use twice as much gas as a longer trip that combines a few different errands into one trip, according to AAA.
- Keep luggage off the roof. Luggage stored on a roof rack can affect a car’s aerodynamics and increase drag that reduces fuel economy, according to the AAA article. Instead, try fitting all your luggage in the trunk or on the back seat.
- Find the lowest gas prices. There are a number of ways to find out where you can get the cheapest gas. AAA’s TripTik Mobile iPhone app can find the lowest prices near you, and websites like GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com can help you locate the cheapest stations in your area.
If you’re still on the fence about driving or flying this holiday season, check out the Fly or Drive Calculator on BeFrugal.com, which can help you determine the overall cost of flying or driving to your destination. Safe travels.
Are you planning on driving this holiday season? What are some ways you’ve saved money on a road trip?