Cutting Transportation Costs
Tips for Traveling Locally
Fill up during the coolest part of the day and tighten the gas cap.
To reduce expenses, drive only when necessary. Avoid traveling during times when traffic is congested. Walk, ride a bike, or roller blade to locations close to home. If you're headed to locations farther from home, use public transportation or carpool. When you must drive:
- Combine errands.
- Avoid warm-ups—just drive slower for the first few miles.
- Keep your speed down and avoid fast start-ups and stops.
- Reduce the weight in your car by storing items elsewhere than in the vehicle.
- Limit the use of luggage carriers, flags, bike racks, ski racks, and other items that cause wind resistance.
Comparison shop for gas rates in your area, using national Websites like the U.S. Department of Energy's www.fueleconomy.gov. Fill up during the coolest part of the day and tighten the gas cap. Get regular oil changes and fluid-level checks and keep the proper tire pressure for your vehicle.
When you need to purchase a different vehicle, get a gas-efficient, late-model used car. Check out the Federal Trade Commission's Website on Buying a Used Car. In Idaho, consult the Office of Attorney General's Website for information on Buying a Used Car.
General Tips for Traveling Long Distance
Comparison shopping for the least expensive alternatives is key to cutting your long distance travel costs. Rental cars, bus lines, and trains could cost less than flying or driving a personal vehicle, depending on the time and distance. You'll also want to:
- Book early and be flexible, if possible, with your travel time.
- Check for discounts—like senior, off-season, and weekend—and look for on-line coupons.
- When feasible, stay with family and friends. Or, check hostels or home-exchange Websites for thrifty lodging.
- Investigate destinations for free or inexpensive attractions; purchase a guide book if you can't get one for free.
- If you're considering camping, check the public campgrounds Website for the state you want to visit. You can find U.S. Government sites at www.recreation.gov. In Idaho, go to www.visitidaho.org.
- Pack light, pack smart—just the essentials.
- Bring your own breakfast foods and water bottle, and buy your snacks and drinks at grocery stores.
- Budget each day and manage your dollars. Avoid using ATMs that charge fees.
- Bring a second credit card in case your first credit card gets lost or in case hotels tie up your first credit card and max out its credit limit. Keep the second card separate from the first card; to make sure it’s secure, carry it and some emergency cash in a money belt or something similar.
Specific Tips for Air Travel
To find the cheapest tickets, search comparison, discount, and "bid your own price" Websites.
To save the most money, determine your travel needs well in advance and book early. When you don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time, be flexible with your days of travel. Consider flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; a Saturday night stay-over might significantly lower your fare. Check airline Websites for calendars and rates for each potential travel day.
Typing the key words "airline travel" into your Web browser will take you to many Websites devoted to air travel, including those of carriers. To find the cheapest tickets, search comparison, discount, and "bid your own price" Websites. Also check for:
- Fares from nearby cities
- Special group discounts
- Inexpensive red-eye (very late night) flights
- Last-minute deals and possible airfare wars between carriers
- Websites that refund the difference if ticket prices drop before your flight
University of Idaho Extension Educator-EFNEP
130 N. 6th Ave.
Pocatello, ID 83205
2014 Update by:
Nancy M. Porter, Ph.D.
Extension Personal and Family Finance Consultant
University of Idaho
University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences:
Editing: Marlene Fritz, Communications Specialist, Boise
Web Design: Jacob Peterson, Web Designer, Moscow