Several years back, my husband and I made the climate-friendly decision to cut down on our air travel and reduce our greenhouse gas footprint. With gas headed towards $4 a gallon, are we to quit traveling locally, too? Sure, we have great bus service in Seattle. But as local weekend travelers who like to go camping on the Oregon Coast or hiking in the sagelands, we need our car. Fortunately there are some things we can do to save gas.
Here are some tips for guzzling less gas on those summer road trips. They’ll help you pump a little less carbon into the atmosphere, and keep a little more cash in your pocket.
- Tend to your tires. We’ve all heard this one before, but evidently very few of us have actually done it. Keep your tires properly inflated and improve your mileage by 3 percent, for a savings of 20 gallons of gas a year ($80 at current prices).
- Don’t put the pedal to the metal. The faster you accelerate, the more gas you use. Cut out the fast starts and rapid braking at highway speeds, and save as much as 80 gallons a year.
- Yeah, you can drive 55. Actually, 55 miles per hour is the optimum speed for most cars when it comes to getting the best gas mileage, so take the scenic road and slow down.
- Carpool. Yes, on your vacation. If you’re taking a weekend getaway, ask some friends or another couple to come along. Not only will you save on gas money (when you split it, of course) you could save on lodging, too. (Get a cabin or suite that sleeps more people.)
- Travel light. You’ll get better mileage if you carry less weight, so clean out your trunk of stuff you don’t need to take with you before you hit the road.
- Take transit to your next hike. In the Seattle area, King County has expanded its bus transit options to a handful of local trailheads.
- Try the train this summer. From Seattle you can get to Portland, Hood River, Eugene, Spokane, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Bellingham, and Vancouver BC by taking Amtrak!
Tell us: How do you save gas money when traveling?
note: this article was originally published in May 2008 and last updated in May 2018. photo: road trip by dalio