If you’re preparing to return to college in the next few days -- or are a Freshman heading away from home for the first time -- your preparations probably include a long road trip.
But with every cent you spend on gasoline diminishing your college fund, how do you make that heavily-packed journey as fuel efficient as possible?
Fear not. We’ve all been there, and have some handy hints to help you plan a fun and frugal trip back to college.
1) Pack light
You can often tell the difference between a Freshman and a Senior by the amount of stuff they take to college.
Although you want to take as many familiar things from home as possible, you risk not only overpacking your dorm room, but severely affecting your car’s gas mileage on the way to college.
Pack the essentials for your first few weeks instead, such as clothes, a few small personal items, your computer, and your course equipment.
That way, you’ll avoid overloading your car. The less weight your car has to carry, the more efficient it will be.
If you’re a Freshman, the chances are you’ll have family visit in a few weeks, so you can always ask them to bring up anything you’ve forgotten later.
Even if that doesn’t happen, you may find it more economical (and less stressful) to have larger items shipped to you after you’ve arrived.
2) Plan your trip
With classes to find, luggage to pack and friends to meet, you may be tempted to let satellite navigation take the strain.
Google Maps traffic - New York area
Google Maps traffic - New York areaEnlarge Photo
Even if your car’s GPS system does most of the work however, it’s a good idea to at least look over the route before you leave, being careful to note if there are any planned road closures on the day you want to travel.
Plan regular stops and allow extra travel time too, ensuring you’re as calm and relaxed as possible on the trip. Remember, a slightly slower overall speed will improve your car’s gas mileage too, reducing your overall fuel bill.
3) Prepare your car
As with any long road journey, you should make sure your car is ready for the trip, especially if you’ve only driven around town all summer.
Check the condition of the engine, oil and coolant levels, and don’t forget to ensure the tires are properly inflated.
If you’re carrying much additional weight, check your car’s owner’s manual to see if your tires require additional inflation to cope with the extra weight.
And while it won’t affect your car’s gas mileage, make sure your car has a suitable spare tire -- if applicable -- along with some basic emergency equipment in case of breakdown.