Hit the Road!

By | August 31, 2009 12:00 am

Although many families are watching their finances this year, it doesn’t mean vacations, special occasions or family gatherings have to be out of reach. For example, road trips can be a great way to reach your destination while staying within your budget. Also, with some proper planning, your family can enjoy not just the destination, but also the journey.
“Make the planning process fun by getting your entire family involved with decisions from where you stop along the way to keeping track of the budget,” says Kim Danger, family financial expert, founder of Mommysavers.com and Shell spokesperson. “By following these simple planning tips before you hit the road, you can learn how to save on travel costs and get more out of your tank of gasoline – something everyone can appreciate.”
Planning Tips
Careful planning is the key to any good trip, and a road trip is no exception. Fortunately, there are many excellent trip planning resources available for free:
-Web sites such as RoadTripAmerica.com and RoadsideAmerica.com provide tips on how to plan interesting routes, as well as how to save money on entertainment, local events and attractions.
-Map out your route with online tools on AAA.com, RandMcNally.com or RoadTripUSA.com. You can find the best highways, rest stops and avoid heavy traffic areas – saving you time and fuel.
-Estimate the cost of fuel for your trip at sites such as IndependentTraveler.com, or FuelCostCalculator.com. Tracking your fuel budget will help you save money along the way, leaving more cash for the fun stuff.
-For short road trips, visit TripAdvisor.com and use their “Tank of Gas” tool. Simply type in your zip code and how much gasoline you want to use – quarter tank, half tank or full tank. A list of destinations will show up for your area.
Money-Saving Tips
-Search online for hotel deals. Sign up for email alerts from price comparison Web sites such as Travelocity.com, Expedia.com or Orbitz.com to find out about travel deals, such as discounted hotel rates.
-Look for online restaurant coupons and print them before you go to keep your meals on a budget. At Restaurants.com, you can search for restaurants along your route that offer discounted gift certificates.
-Make your credit card work for you by saving on everyday purchases, like one of the Shell payment products designed to fit different needs. For a limited time, new Shell Card holders who activate before September 30, 2009 can get a rebate of 30 cents per gallon on the first 100 gallons of gasoline purchased within a 90-day period. For more information, visit www.shell.us/cards.
Fuel Saving Tips
Save fuel – and money – by following some simple guidelines before you hit the road.
-Keep your engine well-tuned and repair any problems immediately: If your car has failed an emissions test or is noticeably out of tune, repairing the problem could improve your gasoline mileage by four percent on average.
-Use the recommended grade of oil in your engine: Following your manufacturer’s motor oil recommendation can improve gasoline mileage by up to two percent.
-Choose a high-quality gasoline: top automakers agree that carbon deposits or “gunk” can build up on critical engine parts, which can decrease the performance and fuel efficiency of your vehicle. This also can potentially increase emissions. So, use a TOP TIER detergent gasoline, such as the new Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines.
-Avoid idling: When you idle, you get zero miles per gallon and continue to emit exhaust.
If you decide to hit the highways this year, plan ahead and drive smart so you can enjoy the journey itself!
How much can you save?
The US Department of Energy has these estimates on how much you can save by driving smart. Visit www.fueleconomy.gov for more money-saving tips.
-Aggressive driving wastes gas. It can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money. Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.12 to $0.81/gallon
-Observe the speed limit. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.17 to $0.56/gallon
-Improve gas mileage by around 3 percent by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Equivalent Gasoline Savings: up to $0.07/gallon
-Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones. Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.02 to $0.05/gallon
Note: Cost savings are based on an assumed fuel price of $2.44/gallon.

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