Road trip! Wisconsin to Arizona
May 11, 2008 9:24 AM   Subscribe

From Thursday-Saturday, I'll be moving from Eau Claire, WI to Mesa, AZ. I have to drive. Money-saving tips?

Day 1: Eau Claire, WI to Wichita, KS
Day 2: Wichita, KS to Albuquerque, NM
Day 3: Albuquerque, NM to Mesa, AZ

I have family to stay with in Wichita, but will have to get a hotel in Albuquerque. I'm open to tips ranging from gas station rewards programs to driving tips.
posted by charmston to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
are you driving your car? towing a trailer? driving a uhaul?
posted by Mr_Chips at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2008

Response by poster: Driving my car with no trailer or U-haul. One other passenger, and I'm able to fit everything that I need into my back seat and trunk with ease (it's a short term move - only 3-4 months, so no furniture is being moved).
posted by charmston at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2008

Response by poster: More info: '98 Mercury Mystique, gets about 28 mpg, 12 gallon tank, just had the radiator flushed, blower motor replaced, tires aligned, ac charged, all filters, belts, and fluids checked.
posted by charmston at 9:42 AM on May 11, 2008

Overall money saving tips would be,

buy a case of bottled water, soda, snacks etc. ahead of time, think Costco

make sure the vehicle you are driving has clean air filter, properly inflated tires

get a tune up if you haven't had one in a while. If towing a trailer, get an antifreeze flush and fill, check your transmission fluid

Use your air conditioner rather than rolling your windows down, saves gas
posted by Mr_Chips at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2008

Check to make sure your spare tire is in good shape, that your jack works. If your spare is in the bottom of your trunk, take it and the jack out completely, then pack the trunk. Put the spare and jack in heavy duty trash bag and make those the last thing you put in the trunk, that way if you have a flat, you don't have to completely empty your trunk on the side of the road in a rain storm to get to the spare.
posted by Mr_Chips at 9:49 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Definitely bring your own food. Pack a cooler with water and a variety of snacks - apples, cheese, crackers, etc. If you can, pack meals as well - sandwich fixin's for lunch, cereal and milk for breakfast, cold pasta salad for dinner, that kind of thing. Those little food purchases along the way really add up fast!
posted by Sassyfras at 9:52 AM on May 11, 2008

Better than a case of bottled water, get a couple gallon jugs, and refill a nalgene bottle when you stop. That way you can use those crystal lite *energy*, and propel packets instead of buying soda after soda in gas stations. Take some Clif bars, some beef jerky, some pretzels, and some cheese sticks, too, and you'll be set food wise.

As for driving, over inflate your tires by 3-4 psi. It will wear down the middle of your tires a *little* faster than ordinary, but only just. About ten years ago, I drove from St. Louis almost to Memphis every damn week, and did experiments on whether tailgate up or down (pickup truck) and tires normal or overinflated made a difference. With $120 tires and gas about 1.20 a gallon, the increased wear vs. the gas savings was a wash. (and this was with a full-size pickup truck, where tire drag is much less than the air resistance from pushing a brick through the air.) Nowadays, with gas three times what it was then, I'd imagine the slight increase in tire wear would be extremely worth it.

FWIW, the increase in mileage, over probably 50 experiments, averaged over 1 MPG for a 17 MPG vehicle, i.e. better than 5% when I had the tires at 50 instead of the recommended 44 PSI.

As for saving gas by driving habits, *coast* on big downhills, make your speed back up in the flat at the bottom of the hill, then maintain speed going up hill, but don't go nutso about maintaining speed so much that your car downshifts to keep up.
posted by notsnot at 9:55 AM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could stay at the hostel in ABQ. That'd cost you more like $20 than $40 for the night.
posted by salvia at 10:11 AM on May 11, 2008

($40 being what I think the next cheapest hotel would cost.)
posted by salvia at 10:12 AM on May 11, 2008

When buying soda buy those 6 or 12 pack pet bottles (not cans). So that when you can put the cap back on and have it in your cup holder.

If you haven't made up your mind about the route, Traveling along I-70 through Colorado and Utah is a nice experience.
posted by WizKid at 10:58 AM on May 11, 2008

Have you considered camping instead of a hotel room? I'm sure in the Albuquerque area there are a variety of campgrounds. A quick search turns up a bunch of options. This may be difficult if you aren't equipped, but if you have a tent/sleeping bag, this is a cheap option. I've done this when moving to Pennsylvania for a summer research job, I didn't have a U-Haul, but I had a carload of junk and managed to squeeze in the camping gear. (We didn't pack a camp stove or anything, although we did pack some hot dogs to roast over the fire)

Seconding bringing a cooler ... this is something I could definitely be better about even for the 4-5 hours I drive to visit my parents. It is probably a lot healthier and a lot cheaper than stopping at fast food joints for sustenance and that way you don't have to stop as long when you stop for gas/restroom. Pack sandwich makings instead of pre-made sandwiches, that way your bread won't get soggy...and we all know that a big bag of chips/pretzels/cookies/candy bought at the supermarket is much more economical than the little ones they sell at gas stations.
posted by sararah at 11:40 AM on May 11, 2008

As mentioned in previous threads on this subject, if your vehicle is equipped with cruise control, using it as much as possible can give you a (supposedly) 15% boost in efficiency. From what I hear the most efficient speed to drive from a gas consumption perspective is 55. I'm open to correction on that one.
posted by baphomet at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2008

The hostel in Albuquerque looks cute from the outside...but I've never stayed there.

You also might think about staying in Tucumcari (east of Albuquerque) if you're interested in the whole Route 66 "Mother Road" thing. I've heard the Blue Swallow is cute and retro.

Sometimes the older hotels (especially the ones in ABQ) aren't the best research beforehand.
posted by answergrape at 2:15 PM on May 11, 2008

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