With Labor Day weekend just around the corner, many of us are packing our bags and hitting the road. Whether you’re headed to the lake, the campground or off to Grandma’s house, follow these tips and you’ll have a painless road trip that won’t break the budget before you even get there.
1. Pack for fuel efficiency. Keep luggage inside the car. A loaded roof rack can decrease fuel efficiency by 5%. But still pack light if possible. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by as much 2%. Check your tire pressure before your trip; underinflated tires waste fuel and are unsafe. And use cruise control to maintain a constant speed on the highway—rapid acceleration and braking use more gas.
2. Keep the kids entertained. Road trip printables are free, fun and easy to find on mommy blogs and family travel sites. Turn the license plate game into a geography lesson. Print out an outline map of the United States. Players can color in each state when they spot a corresponding license plate.
3. Cut motion sickness off at the pass. Try natural remedies like stocking the car with ginger ale, peppermint candies and soda crackers. Audio books are good entertainment for kids and adults prone to carsickness. Many libraries lend audiobooks straight to your computer, tablet or mobile phone. Install the OverDrive Media Console to get started. And for last-minute remedies and over the counter medications, check out Walgreen’s End of Summer Sale to stock up on everything you need for your vacation.
4. Load up the ice chest. Even roadside diners can cost you dearly, so pack the car with travel-friendly snacks. Skip sandwiches and roll deli meat up in more durable wraps. Make fruit kebabs for easy eating without sticky hands and stay full longer with protein-rich snacks like nuts or hard-boiled eggs. Load food into a soft-sided cooler, which can fold flat in your trunk and act as a reusable grocery bag for perishables when you’re not traveling.
5. Download a gas price comparison app. Gas is the main road trip expense, so be sure to download an app like GasBuddy. It will locate gas stations near you and find the best price. Gas is usually marked up at stations right off highway exits, but when you’re unfamiliar with an area, that’s all you see. Use this app to find out if there is a deal just a quarter-mile down the road.
Final tip: Pack a jump rope and encourage kids to do a few minutes of jumping when you stop for a fill-up or bathroom break. They’ll get all that restless energy out and be ready to resume the trip in peace.