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8 ways to save money on your next WA road trip

4 min read

Did someone say road tripping on a budget?!

Yes, they did.

With the cost of living rising, it’s often the fun things that get put on hold – like road trips and family vacations.

Amongst the rising prices, fuel and gas prices are some of the most severe, with many shoppers finding smart ways to bring their costs down. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to bring your road trip costs down this season.

1. Choose a closer destination

Before you roll your eyes at visiting somewhere ‘local’ think about where you haven’t been and see whether you could make a trip out of it. With so many potential kilometres between you and your dream holiday, sometimes re-adjusting your goals can yield surprisingly delightful results. Remember that Western Australia is a big place. You can easily find a wealth of natural wonder and local delicacies within an hour or two from Perth, so don’t fret that you haven’t made it to Esperance, it’s not going anywhere.

2. Drive slower (but not too much slower)

Yes, the old drive-slower trick makes a comeback. This is the enemy of anyone who wants to have unbridled fun on the roads, but the secret best friend of the savvy holidaymaker travelling on a budget. Driving fast will eat up fuel faster. Most vehicles generally are at their most efficient point travelling between 50 and 80km per hour. To illustrate this point, driving at 120km per hour, a car consumes roughly 20% more fuel than at 100km per hour. I would say do the math – but we just did it for you.

3. Save the 4WD trail for next time

It’s not just driving faster that uses up more fuel – it’s also how you drive that can impact fuel consumption. Four-wheel driving can be loads of fun, but it will take a heavy toll on your fuel tank. Accelerating constantly and driving up steep and difficult terrain will drink even more fuel than when you’re cruising at a steady 100km per hour. While the off-road trail may be calling your name, you might want to save it for next time.

4. Let nature air-condition your car

Air conditioning actually uses up valuable fuel and will cost you more at the pump. Now if you’re braving high temperatures in the desert, we (highly) recommend you keep that baby going. But if you can afford to switch it off and the breeze is cool – this can help you save cold hard cash along the way. Even flicking your air-conditioning over to re-circulation can help ease the impact.

5. Pack your own snacks

There’s nothing like a hearty road trip snack (or feast) – whichever describes your situation most. And while the traditional service station pie may be appealing, opting for the cheaper homemade concoction can save you a few bucks here and there. Just make sure you’re able to store food in a cool esky, or just stick to the dry snacks. For the coffee addicts out there – invest in a thermos for your single-origin brews. You know that roadside coffee isn’t going to be up to standard anyway, right?

6. Avoid traffic at all costs

Money aside, if there’s anything you should avoid on your road trip it’s traffic jams.

Sitting in traffic in your 3-litre engine Subaru Forester and entertaining a stop-start driving situation will also cost you at the pump. If you can, leave early to avoid the crowds of commuters desperately trying to edge their way to work (or back). Even worse, sitting in traffic and idling can cost you Subaru Forester drivers roughly a cup of petrol every ten minutes. We won’t do the math, but you get the picture. You want to keep it moving.

7. Find free campsites

While fuel prices are nasty, it’s often the accommodation that will end up being your biggest outlay. That’s where free campsites come to the rescue. With hundreds located around WA, you can pitch a tent at any time and without having to register beforehand. Having said that, do make sure in advance that you’re heading towards a campsite with free spots, check online with the respective website. You don’t want to drive somewhere and have to sleep in the car.

8. Lose that extra weight

Heavier cars mean lighter wallets. With excess weight, you can expect your car to do more work lugging your gear around and end up watching your fuel gauge go down quicker. Ditch the stuff you don’t need and keep it simple – remember your holiday is what you make of it. And did you really need those extra bikes anyway?

We hope you found this useful. Drive safe and remember to regularly service your car – remember there’s nothing more expensive than your car breaking down in the middle of your holiday and having to cancel.

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