Updated April 30, 2021
Frommer's readers love to travel and save -- it's what we do -- so with the cost of fuel creeping up, both our day to day driving, and our ability to take an affordable road trip, are being affected.
I personally am not willing to give up on getting out of the city for a few days of R&R, simply because of prices at the pump. With that in mind, here are some of our best tips for affordable, and less frequent, fueling up.
Community Price Watch Sites
It's at times like these that consumer websites (and their app offshoots) like Gas Price Watch (www.gaspricewatch.com) really come in handy. The website is designed to help users find the lowest price of gas in their own neighborhood (or in a city that you are planning to visit). In fact if the price of gasoline is really influencing when and where you travel by car, you may want to consider Texas for your next getaway -- though the country-wide average is $2.95 today, the city of Fort Worth currently has the lowest prices in the entire country -- a gallon of gas here will only set you back $2.19.
Of course, we're not suggesting you'd use this website/app, or its rival Gas Buddy (www.gasbuddy.com), just to compare state-to-state fuel costs (our condolences to Alaska, by the way). These two sites are indispensable in finding the lowest gas costs near you. You simply input a zip code, and boom: you get a list and a map, showing you what local gas stations are charging.
The differences can be significant. When I did a search for gas stations in Avondale, Arizona, I found a few stations fueling up customers for just $2.79 a gallon, with most charging $3.09, and a buzzkill Chevron station charging a whopping $3.39.
All of the prices are being input, in real time, by neighborly drivers. If you would like to become an oil price vigilante, you can register as a spotter for free on these websites and/or apps, and help spot and post prices in your neighborhood so others can benefit. The more participants, the better.
Another Terrific Resource: Gas Cost Calculator
We can thank the Automobile Club of America for this primo resource, which gives estimates of fuel costs before trips, so vacationers can better plan out how much to spend on lodgings, food, and other expenses. Its Gas Cost Calculator (https://gasprices.aaa.com/aaa-gas-cost-calculator) has you input your route, followed by the make, model, and year of your car. Then it shoots back a guess (an accurate one, we've found) on how much you'll likely spend to fuel up.
Top Tips for Topping Off Your Tank
How you drive and what you drive will also affect how much fuel you need to put into your vehicle. Our top 10 overall tips are:
2) Observe Speed Limits: The optimal range for fuel efficiency is 35 mph to 55 mph. For each 5 mph you drive over 55 mph, your fuel efficiency decreases by about 7%. Adhering to speed limits is not only a safer way to drive; it will help you save on gas as well.
3) Maintain Proper Tire Pressure: Studies have shown that drivers use up to 10% less gas simply by keeping their tires inflated at the recommended level.
4) Avoid Excessive Idling: By simply avoiding excessive idling, you can cut down on your gas consumption by 2% or more.
5) Remove Excess Weight: Not passengers (unless you really want to), but any junk you may have in your trunk. Removing "dead weight" can increase your gas mileage by as much as 2% for every 100 pounds you remove.
6) Use Cruise Control: Using cruise control on the highway regulates your speed and improves your gas mileage by up to 5%.
7) Use Overdrive: You can save up to 2% on gas consumption by putting your car in overdrive so that the engine does not have to work as hard to maintain a high driving speed.
8) Use a Rebate Cards: Paying for gas with a rebate card can give an automatic 4% to 10% cash back on all gas purchases. Banks and credit card companies like Chase, Citi, and Discover offer these cards as do gas stations. There are also good gas savings savings for members Sam's Club, and other warehouse clubs.
9) Perform Regular Maintenance: A tune-up can result in gas savings of up to 4%, and replacing a faulty part like an oxygen sensor can save you as much as 40%. Changing your oil and air filter regularly can also result in better mileage.
10) Look for more efficient routes: If there are places you drive often, see if you're taking the speediest route there. We often fall into ruts, especially on daily commutes, and these can take us out of our way.