Green Tip – Greening Your Holiday Road Trips

by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: As you plan your Thanksgiving or Christmas Dream carholiday road trips, keep in mind that driving and maintaining your vehicle properly can increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and decrease your gas costs.

Our friends at Traveling Greener have put together some ways to practice more fuel-efficient driving, creating less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, just in time for the holidays.

Planning your trip:

  • Get a customized map with low gas prices along the route. Because getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. provides fuel economy estimates, energy and environmental impact ratings, fuel-saving tips, and other useful information. is a network of more than 200 website designed to help you find the lowest gasoline prices.

MapQuest: Gas Prices includes maps of gas locations.

  • Choose the right vehicle. If your family has more than one vehicle, drive the car that gets better gas mileage.
  • Drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.
  • Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public transportation to your destination.
  • Explore new ways to get around at your destination. Find information on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles.

Preparing your vehicle:

  • Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by around 3%.
  • Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.
  • Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

On the road: Driving Tips

  • Decrease your speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents or more per gallon for gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% in town.
  • Use cruise control and overdrive gear. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and reduces engine wear.
  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to improve fuel economy.
  • Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Fill up before returning a rental car. Rental car companies charge higher gas prices if you don’t fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. Also save your gas receipts as proof.”

For more money saving tips and resources, go to The less gasoline used, the less money we pay, the less pollution we create, and the more we protect our planet.

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

The International Ecotourism Society
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) unites conservation, communities and sustainable travel. TIES promotes responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at


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