Gas-Saving Tips for Vacation Season

Pumping Gas (photo credit under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)
Pumping Gas (photo credit under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)

My wife and I put a lot of miles on our cars, especially during the vacation season.  Despite the high prices for fuel, it is much more economical for us to take a trip in the car than it is to fly somewhere.  Also, we see so much more of the countryside while driving than we can if we fly from place to place.

Given the trending of gas prices toward ever-higher dollar amounts, many people are using more and more of their vacation budget on gas. While no one seems to be able to make gas cheap again, and I’m certain that the trend will continue to rise, there are still some things you can do to help save on gas this vacation season. Here are some gas-saving tips you should use to help reduce your fuel budget as much as possible.

Slow Up, Speed Down

When you are on the road, slow down a little when you are going up hills and pick back up to the speed limit when going downhill.  This is said to save fuel because your car has to work much harder going uphill (especially if you are using air conditioning and have luggage and multiple passengers), whereas gravity is your friend going downhill.

Many times, I’ll even pop the car’s transmission into neutral and let it roll down a long downhill section to let the engine fall to an idle speed, but only follow that suggestion if you can make the gear change safely, and if it makes sense.  I’ve seen people accidentally jerk the steering wheel while trying to change gears.  Also, if the hill is too long and steep, you may overheat your brakes keeping your car slowed to the speed limit.

I am in no way advocating that you should ever drive over the speed limit.  In fact, speaking of speed, observing the speed limit and not speeding also saves gas. It’s safer, too.

Know When to Turn Off the AC

While traveling in the heat without air conditioning can be downright dangerous, there are times when you can turn it off to save fuel. For example, turning off the AC when driving uphill can reduce the power pull on your engine by quite a bit, sources say. Of course, you can leave the fans going and the residual cooling effect lasts for a few minutes. When you’re on the level or going downhill, turn the AC back on.

Tire Care

If your tires are worn, get them rotated before your trip or, if they are very worn, get them replaced.

Proper air pressure is very important.  Make sure your tires are aired up to the manufacturer’s specifications  Look at the inside of the driver’s side door if you are unsure as to your tires’ PSI (pounds per square inch).  It should be labeled there.  Adding too much or too little air can both be a problem, so if you are in doubt, have your mechanic do it.

Vehicle Check-up

Before your vacation, get your car thoroughly looked over. Make sure everything is running as efficiently as possible. Efficiency in your engine means greater efficiency on fuel usage. Check the oil level or have it changed if it is time.  Get a “tune up” if needed, and have all the fluids checked.  This is a great time to have any necessary work done on the tires.

Travel Light

As mentioned above, a lot of excess cargo can really draw on the engine’s power. It’s said that every 100 pounds added to your car’s weight will decrease the gas mileage by 1 percent.

Try to be careful to use lightweight baggage carriers (such as duffel bags rather than heavy suitcases), and only pack the minimum necessities for your trip.

How You Drive

Have you ever ridden in a car with someone who has a difficult time regulating the accellerator?  They speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down, even while cruising a long flat straightaway.  OMG!  Use your cruise control, or something.

Don’t be that guy.  When you hit the accelerator pedal, that’s when your car is using the most gas. So try to cruise at a smooth speed.

Also, avoid the speed up, brake fast pattern that so many drivers fall into. Get up to cruising speed smoothly, cruise at a steady speed, and when you need to stop, coast down to the stop as much as possible without braking hard. Keep the ride as smooth as possible to save on fuel.

Finding the Perfect Weekend Getaway

romantic-weekend-getawayFinding the perfect weekend getaway can take some special planning and pre-arranging.  If you don’t take the necessary steps to plan for your weekend getaway, you’ll end up watching the weekends blow by until the opportunity has passed.

Do you have any thoughts of getting away for a weekend “sometime”?  Sometime never comes.  Just stop whatever you’re doing, get your calendar out, and figure out which weekends are available for your weekend getaway.  If you are married, you may need to sit your spouse down and clear a weekend in your calendars, together.  Just find a weekend that you can block out for your time away.

All that’s left, now, is to figure out what you want to do, and where you want to go for your weekend getaway.  If you are seeking the perfect weekend getaway, there are many ways to achieve that goal.

The first and most important thing to do is to hone in on what you want to do. Once you are clear about that part, the next steps become easier. Sometimes you are in the mood for a relaxing vacation getaway and other times you are in the mood for some serious challenges.

When you are planning for a 2 or 3 day weekend, it makes the most sense to stay somewhat close to home.  The last thing you need is to spend your weekend running through airports, haggling with rental car agents, or flagging down taxis.  Take a look at the 200 mile radius around where you are.  I know that for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest, the opportunities are endless.    I’m sure that you’ll find multiple options and opportunities for amazing getaways in your area, as well.

Think About the Type of Weekend Getaway You Want

There are many relaxing types of weekend getaways:

* Beach getaways
* Lake front cabins in the woods in spring
* Spa retreats
* Boating getaways

And there are dozens of supercharged weekend getaways as well; here are just a few:

* Skiing
* Mountain biking
* Rock climbing
* Horseback riding
* Surfing

Consider the Lodging Type

Next, pick the type of lodging you want. Think out of the box and off the beaten path for this one. There are hundreds of old inns and even historic barns that have been refurbished for you to stay at, whether you are traveling romantically as a couple, with your children, or with close friends.

campingYou may chose to search a site like to find a good hotel or you might decide to use to find a room in someones home that they will rent out for a night or two.  Another option is the site,, where they specialize in entire homes to rent.  Maybe you can even locate a mansion that utilizes part of its old historic rooms as a weekend getaway dream.

If camping and outdoor activities are your thing, search the internet for state and/or national parks in your area.  You’ll likely find a myriad of options for great camping getaways.

Think Outside of the Box

Once you have discovered what you want from your weekend getaway and what type of lodging you wish to stay in, it is so much easier to decide on a location. Many individuals start with the location and then look for activities and lodging. However, if you think outside the box on this, you will be pleasantly surprised.

sunset-sailboatsAs far as internet searches go, you will find that you have more options that are clear-cut and well defined when you search for specific things such as, “horseback riding spa resort.” Your search will bring the locations that are specifically geared to what you wish to do on your weekend getaway.

For information, of course, use the internet, but also ask friends, family members, colleagues, and even people you chat with in line at the grocery store. You will find the most amazing tidbits of information in the oddest of places.

Seek the advice and expertise of a travel agent, go online, get information on social media and blogs, and even go to the library.

Finding the perfect weekend getaway may take a little effort, but in the end, it is so worth the time.