picture of family in car, taking a road trip

Road trips are great, but with gas prices so high, they can be expensive. What can you do to save some dough along the way?


Ever since the automobile became widely available in the early 20th century, road trips have been America's go-to way to travel. Just put your finger on the map and go: For the price of a tank of gas, one can travel at leisure to any number of exciting destinations. Ever seen the red rocks in Moab? The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? What about the big city lights of Times Square in New York City? No matter which destination fires your fancy, a road trip allows you to travel at your own speed and stop at will to explore along the way.

With gas prices in 2011 hovering near $4 per gallon, however, the good old American road trip has become less and less of a bargain and more of a wallet-buster. Some tourist attractions and destinations are going so far as to offer incentives to offset the high cost of gasoline. In New York's Adirondack Mountain region, businesses like the Fort William Henry Hotel have been known to offer packages that include a $20 gas card and a buy-one-get-one-free dinner [source: Smith]. In spite of high gas prices, however, car travel remains one of the more affordable and efficient ways to travel. After all, airlines have to deal with increases in fuel costs, too. When gas prices go up, so does the price of plane tickets.

So, apart from trading your mini-van for a hybrid, what can you do to save money on a road trip? First, you can maximize your fuel economy by following all the great advice you'll find on travel sites like AAA.com, ViaMichelin.com, Frommers.com and countless others. These tips include keeping your tire pressure at the manufacturer's recommended PSI, removing excess weight from your vehicle and using cruise control to maintain a steady speed. Paying attention to fuel economy will only save you so much, however. In this article, we'll explore a couple of other great ways to save money on road trips. First up, let's talk about ways to avoid toll roads.