Well, this is the final tip in our series about driving to Walt Disney World. In my yearly travels, I have definitely learned some valuable tips for saving money along the way. As always, I am happy to share them with you:Fuel Tips
- Let technology work for you: I have already told you about the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com which is a great tool for estimating your gas expenses when creating your budget. Additionally, there are some handy tools to help you find the best price for gas along your route. If you have a smart phone, using apps such as Gas Buddy and AAA’s TripTik Mobile can help you to find cheap gas on your route. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can log on to GasPriceWatch.com, GasBuddy.com, or gasprices.mapquest.com when planning your trip. Of course, if you have a laptop with a GPS on your trip with you, you can search places near your current location as well. Be sure to select the option for choosing locations on your current path. Please be sure to pay attention to when the prices were updated also. There have been a few times I have gone to find cheapest gas at a GasBuddy suggestion and they had raised the prices. In those cases, the sites count on us as friendly consumers to report the current price if there is a discrepancy.
- Service your vehicle: Preventative maintenance is the best way to insure you will get the best gas mileage possible out of your vehicle. Before leaving home, get a tune-up, change your oil, inflate your tires and top off your fluids. A car in the best possible condition saves money on fuel. If you drive a gas-guzzler, you might weigh the options of renting a car for your trip. Be sure to research the cost of a vehicle with unlimited mileage and then use the fuel cost calculator (above) to determine whether or not this would be a good way to save.
- Get it off the roof: If possible, do not take your Thule on the trip. Loading your car down with very heavy luggage uses more fuel. Having the luggage piled on top of the car decreases fuel economy by an estimated 5% according to the U.S. Energy Department.
- Use the cruise: Taking advantage of your cruise control while driving on the highway will help you to maintain a constant speed, thus saving on gas. If you are wide awake, using cruise is a good idea. If you are getting tired, cruise is not a good idea; it is time to pull over and get some rest.
- Fuel rewards points: Some gas company credit cards save you on the price of every gallon of fuel every time you stop for gas. Check on getting a card for a traditionally-reasonable gas chain and use it. Also, in my area, the more you spend on groceries each month at Kroger the cheaper you get your gas at the Kroger pump. I can save 10 cents, 50 cents, 90 cents or more per gallon by using my Kroger card. Check on discounts like this in your area. Make sure it is a chain that has locations between your hometown and Orlando in order to take full advantage of the discounts.
- Stay on the path: Don’t go out of your way to find the cheapest gas. Some of the smart phone apps will find the cheapest gas, but if you don’t choose the setting for searching on your current route, you could end up in the middle of nowhere. Whatever you do, stay on your path. Don’t end up wasting the gas you have when searching for the cheapest place to fill up. This sounds elementary, but once that voice starts telling you “right turn ahead”, “go straight on and then turn left”, you never know where you are going to finally end up.
- Use your coupons: If you plan to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner on the way to Orlando, take your restaurant coupons with you. By spending a little time before your trip, you can even research the restaurant locations you have coupons for before ever leaving home. Then, just plug those locations into your GPS and you will be armed and ready. Buy one, get one deals are fantastic when you have a large family to feed. A little advance preparation goes a long way to saving you money on your vacation.
- Snack Pack: Stopping for snacks will take a big chunk out of your budget. Don’t do it! Before leaving the house, pack up everyone’s favorite snacks and hand them out whenever they are needed. Stopping at rest areas to use the restrooms and then piling everyone back into the car, rather than having the kids use the facilities inside convenience stores and then wandering around wanting everything in the store, will save you LOTS of time and money. You can read more about this in my Disney Driving Tip 3 article.
- Create an adventure: Packing a lunch and drinks in a cooler is another great way to save. You can either prepare sandwiches at home and pack them into a cooler; or just pack up a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and a squeezable jelly and make them on the way. If you do that, don’t forget to take plasticware with you to use when making the sandwiches. I have to say, though, that frying chicken the night before, putting it into a big silver pot in the fridge, taking it in the car and eating it on the road is one of my favorite memories from my childhood vacation trips. My daddy always made chicken for our road trips and to this day anytime I get a whiff of real, homemade fried chicken it takes me right back to those trips with my dad when he was alive – great memories. Sorry, back to topic. Find a great place to picnic and make an adventure out of it. These are the things your children will remember when they are grown. We have done this a few times, stopping at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama. They have a great picnic area with a view of the USS Alabama. This saves money and is a really enjoyable, fun time with family.
I hope you will use these tips on your next road trip to Walt Disney World. Most importantly, drive safely and have a great time with your family. That’s what it’s all about after all! Happy travels!
Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.