Road Trips – Go Green, Wallet Lean

My dad and I drove across the country to visit his college friend, Scotty, way back in the 1970s. That tells you I’m no older than Jack Benny, about 39 or even less. (Some of you are probably wondering who Jack Benny was.)

Anyway, I remember the gas shortage of the 1970s. You could only refuel on certain days of the week, depending on your license plate. When we got to Scotty’s, we were kicked back, sitting around the table, and Scotty asked my dad, “Did you have any problems with gas?”

My dad rubbed his stomach and said, “Ohhh, that restaurant near the Utah border gave me the devil.”

It took the two of them a few minutes to figure out that Scotty was talking about gasolino and my dad was talking about Beano.

At the time, people were only beginning to worry about emissions and pollution. It is true that the government has lowered the speed limit to 55 mph to save gas. But today people are conscientiously looking for ways to enjoy a great road trip, feel positive about their contribution to the environment, and still keep their wallets closed almost all the time.

Here are some tips for saving money along the way:

– You don’t get that many lube oil air filter changes per year, so schedule one right before your road trip. Your car will run more efficiently. It will burn oil better and pollute less.

– Check your tires just before the trip. Check your car manual for the ideal air pressure. This guarantees better mileage and is better for your tyres. Whether you are traveling or not, you should check your tires monthly.

– Keeping it at 55 mph is still an effective way to reduce your gas mileage. Are you one of today’s impatient travelers who need to hurry, hurry, hurry? Pretend you’re back in the 70’s and take it easy. On the highway, 55 is the virtual pinnacle of fuel efficiency. And preserving your rubber tires keeps them out of overloaded landfills.

– Plan your route before starting your journey. That way you don’t get lost, which costs you time and fuel, not to mention your good will. Try the AAA website for a TripTik®; it has changed to keep up with the computer age. Unlike some route planning websites, the TripTik® shows you where to expect construction and highlights points of interest, which you can click to add to your itinerary. And you no longer need to be a member of AAA to access this feature.

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– Before leaving home, turn down your heating or air conditioning, turn off night lights, computers, and printers, and unplug any DVD players, coffee pots, or other home appliances with timers or clocks. They all consume electricity, even when you are not at home. Your electricity meter will thank you.

One last suggestion: wear a black hippie wig and drive a flower power van. People will distrust you and keep their distance. This way you save on the gas you use if you brake unnecessarily for other traffic.

Good trip!