February 22, 2024

My dad and I drove across country to visit his college buddy, Scotty, way back in the 1970s. That tells you I’m no older than Jack Benny, about 39 or even less. (Some of you are probably wondering who Jack Benny was.)

Anyway, I remember the gasoline shortage of the Seventies. You could only get gas on certain days of the week, depending on your license plate. When we got to Scotty’s we were kicked back, sitting around the table, and Scotty asked my dad, “Did you have trouble with gas?”

My dad rubbed his stomach and said, “Ohhh, that diner near the Utah border gave me the devil.”

It took a few minutes before the two figured out Scotty was talking about gasolino, and my dad was talking about Beano.

Back then, people were only starting to get concerned about emissions and pollution. It’s true that the government slashed the speed limit to 55 mph in order to conserve gas. But these days people are conscientiously looking for ways to enjoy a great road trip, feel positive about contributing to the environment, and still keep their wallet closed pretty much of the time.

Here are some tips to save money on the road:

– You don’t get that many lube-oil-air filter changes per year, so schedule one of them just prior to your road trip. Your car will function more efficiently. It’ll burn oil better and pollute less.

– Check your tires just before the trip. Look at your auto manual to find out what the ideal air pressure is. This will guarantee better mileage, and it’s easier on your tires. Whether you’re traveling or not, you should check your tires monthly.

– Keeping it at 55 mph is still an effective way to reduce your gasoline usage. Are you one of today’s impatient travelers who have to rush, rush, rush? Pretend you’re back in the 70s and slow down a little. On the highway, 55 is the virtual peak of fuel efficiency. And preserving your rubber tires keeps them out of overloaded landfills.

– Plan your route before you begin your trip. That way you won’t get lost, which costs you time and fuel, not to mention your good will. Try the AAA website for a TripTikĀ®; it’s changed to keep up with the computer age. Unlike some route plotting websites, the TripTikĀ® shows you where to expect construction and it flags points of interest, which you can click to add to your itinerary. And, you no longer need to be a member of AAA to access this feature.

– Before you leave home, turn down your heater or air conditioner, turn off night lights, computers and printers, and unplug DVD players, coffee pots, or any other household appliances with timers or clocks. They all use electricity, even if you’re not at home. Your electric meter will thank you.

One last suggestion: Wear a black hippie wig and drive a flower-power van. People will be suspicious of you and keep their distance. This conserves the gas you expend when you brake needlessly for other traffic.

Bon voyage!