Spring break road trips are traditionally a time to head off to a warmer climate for some well-deserved fun and relaxation. And when we’re in the grips of a long winter’s cold snap, we can easily imagine ourselves kicking back on our favorite beach with old friends while making new ones.
Of course, there’s that little matter of the road trip itself. Whether you look to the road trip as a means to an end or the end in itself, your travels will be far more enjoyable if you properly budget for gas along the way. The last thing you want is to leave paying at the pump up to chance.
Regardless of how far you’re traveling, it’s always a good idea to make sure your car is in good working order before a road trip — so a tune-up may be a good idea. The U.S. Department of Energy says things like low tire pressure and dirty air filters can reduce a car’s gas mileage, so make sure your car undergoes proper pre-trip maintenance.
In addition to making sure your car’s ready, it’s also a good idea to have a rough idea of how many gallons of gas you’ll need to get from Point A to Point B, so you can estimate your gas costs. Online calculators are one good way to do this. For example, GasBuddy.com’s Trip Cost Calculator can help you estimate how much you’ll spend on gas by taking into account your route, your car model’s gas mileage and gas prices you can expect to find along the route.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of your average mileage, you’ll need to know what the average gas prices are along the way. Fortunately, recent technology has made this calculation much easier and more accurate. All you have to do is use a tool like Allstate’s Fuel Finder. This fast, easy-to-use gas price locator can help you find low prices at nearby pumps. All the preparations add up to money that stays in your pocket.
It’s nice to plan a few sightseeing stops along the way, but keep in mind that the further you travel off the beaten path, the more you’ll wind up paying for gas. Think of it this way: Taking a break at a rest area right by the interstate may not be the picturesque stop you had in mind, but skipping a long detour may help you save enough money to enjoy something fun at your ultimate destination.
No matter how carefully you budget, it’s your right foot that’ll help decide how much gas you burn. Take a hint from the U.S. Department of Energy and go easy on the accelerator when the light turns green. Also, keep to the speed limit. Not only does this promote safer driving and more fuel efficiency, but it also helps prevent you from getting a speeding ticket, which can put a dent in any vacation budget.
No matter how much planning goes into your road trip, sometimes, the unexpected happens — like running out of gas. So, it’s also a good idea to have a backup plan, such as roadside assistance — just in case.
Now that you’ve done your budgeting and planning, it’s time to enjoy your spring break road trip!