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Easy Tips for Conserving Fuel on Your Next Vacation

Just because summer vacations are over, doesn’t mean that your automobile will get a break. There are always off-season vacations – a good option if you are looking for less expensive trips for you and your family – and the travel-heavy holidays. It is also never too late to begin planning and budgeting for next year’s summer road trip.

Sure, a vacation is a time to live large and throw caution to the wind, but traveling the highways and byways these days is an inexpensive endeavor, particularly when it comes to fuel. Before topping off the gas tank and putting the pedal to the metal with your family in tow, consider the following fuel facts:

  • It’s expensive: The average price of gasoline has been over $3.00 per gallon for over 1,000 consecutive days, marking the first streak of this kind … ever. The average price per gallon is $3.62. And the cost per gallon can increase depending on various factors, from the speed you drive to the weight of your vehicle.
  • It supports our dependence on imports: The United States still relies on other countries for nearly 40% of the oil that it uses at a cost of $300 billion annually. The more gas you use, the more you contribute to this dependence on others and their resources.
  • It impacts the environment: Highway vehicles are responsible for approximately 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouses gases that are released into the air each year, the most prominent of which is carbon-dioxide. Consider that about 30 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted per gallon of gas that you burn; simply put, the less gas you burn, the less damage is done to the environment.

Short of cancelling your next vacation, what can you do to minimize your fuel consumption? Rest assured that you can reduce your energy consumption with the following five tips, whether running errands or trekking across the country.

  1. Drive the speed limit: Driving above the speed limit is expensive. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you will pay an additional 25 cents per gallon for every five miles per hour above 50 mph that you drive. Keep in mind that accelerating quickly also burns more gas (up to twice as much, in some cases), so take it slow and steady when the stoplight turns green.
  2. Maintain your vehicle: There are a number of maintenance tasks – several of which you can complete yourself – that will keep your vehicle running well and using less fuel. While you want to rely on your local mechanic for routine (yes, routine!) oil changes, as well as fuel filter and spark plug changes, you should be able to change your air filter and maintain the appropriate air pressure in your tires.
  3. Eliminate extra weight: If you pull a wagon full of heavy rocks, it will certainly take more energy than pulling that same wagon when it is empty. This wagon is no different than your vehicle. The heavier it is, the more fuel you will use. If you have a large family, it may not be as easy to lighten the load, but make an effort to remove any extraneous items that may create extra weight and consider carefully what you are going to pack. If you aren’t going to use it, leave it at home!
  4. Avoid traffic congestion: Avoid high-congestion areas whenever you are traveling, and if possible, drive during off hours. An idling car not only burns fuel, but it negatively impacts the environment. If you do find yourself in a traffic jam, consider turning off your engine rather than idling.
  5. Buy a fuel-efficient vehicle: If you like to travel and you are in the market for a new car, make an effort to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle. The more miles-to-the-gallon that you use, the less money you spend, and the fewer emissions that you release into the environment. Flex fuel or hybrid vehicles are popular choices for those looking to save money and protect the environment. Although you may pay a little more up front, you will save at the pump. For help selecting a fuel efficient vehicle, check out the vehicle comparisons at

The price at the gas pump is surely the first thing you notice when budgeting for your next vacation or filling up on your way out of town. In fact, it’s almost enough to make you want to close the garage door in favor of a “stay-cation.” A fuel efficient approach to driving and vehicle maintenance will not only ease the financial pain, but can positively impact the dependency on foreign oil and reduce harmful emissions that threaten the environment.

Guest Post by:  Jessica Johnson works for and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions.

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November 21, 2013   1 Comment