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4 Ways to Save When Driving Home for the Holidays

winterroadcarDriving back home during the holiday months is something every out-of-state student has to deal with at one point or another. In fact, the United States Department of Transportation reports 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is done by car. Of course, road trips aren’t exactly cheap and when you’re a struggling student it may seem nearly impossible to visit your folks during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Fortunately, there are several ways to cut costs when driving long distances so you can make it home for the holidays.

Improve Your Gas Mileage

One of the main expenses during a road trip is, without a doubt, gasoline. Get the most bang for your buck by using a gas price app like GasBuddy. This free app helps you find the cheapest gas in your area and locate gas stations nearby. Other ways to save money on gas include using a GPS to avoid getting lost, driving on freeways versus surface streets whenever possible and carpooling with a friend that lives in your home state to divide expenses. Lastly, obey the speed limit. Not only is driving the speed limit a good idea for your own personal safety, it can also improve gas mileage by about 10 percent, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.

Check Your Tires

Another great way to save money during a road trip is by regularly maintaining your vehicle’s tires. The last thing you want is to be stranded out on the road in the middle of nowhere waiting for an expensive tow truck to get you out of that sticky situation. Make sure your car has high-quality all-season tires that are suited for all kinds of travel conditions, including light snow. Along with checking your tires, you should also replace your car’s fluids and schedule a tuneup, suggests U.S. News.

Pack Light

The heavier the load, the slower you’ll go. Think light when packing for your road trip. Just because you don’t have to worry about airline baggage fees doesn’t mean you should pack everything and the kitchen sink. Keep packing reasonable by using a carry-on instead of a suitcase for all your stuff, pack clothing items and accessories that can be combined in more ways that one and, finally, remove half of the things you think you need, recommends Travel Fashion Girl. You’ll end up with only the essentials and a light load. A lighter load means better gas mileage, which is your main goal during a holiday road trip.

Plan Your Meals

As you probably already know, eating out can quickly add up. Avoid overspending on food by packing your own meals, drinks and snacks in a cooler. Cooking Light created a list with some of the best road trip foods, including cereal cups, energy bars (duh!), string cheese sticks and baby carrots. However, we’re not advocating being a cheapskate here. Eating at a roadside restaurant is all part of the experience. You can find the best food deals with Roadtrippers, a smartphone app that plans your roadtrip and shows you all of the dining options on your route (along with other cool spots). That way, you can easily find a restaurant that is within your budget.

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