Top tips to saving fuel – and your sanity – on a family road trip

The festive season is only weeks away and many Australians are gearing up for long distance drives to enjoy a few nights away from home or reunite with friends and family.

But with the thought of a major road trip with kids striking fear in the heart of even the hardiest traveller – and fuel prices adding pressure to household budgets, Aussie families have a few added challenges.

To help take the stress out of car travel and help you be more ‘fuel-savvy’, carsales Consumer Editor, Nadine Armstrong, shares her tips for Aussies setting off on their next fun-filled adventure.

“Holiday road trips can be full of fun but they can also be challenging and at times costly,” said Armstrong.

“Planning in advance will help avoid unexpected costs and make road trips more enjoyable. But regardless of how organised parents are, it’s important to remember that things don’t always go to plan. If you’re ready these unexpected ‘detours’ can often be the most memorable,” continued Armstrong.

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Fuel saving tips

  • Monitor tyre pressure: Tyres are important to maximising fuel efficiency as well as safety. So check your tyre pressure before you hit the road. Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption and affect the handling and ultimately the safety of your car.
  • Cruise on: Studies have found that using cruise control on flat, long drives can save from 7-14%fuel. By eliminating unnecessary acceleration and deceleration, you also can reduce car wear and tear, and drivers will feel less fatigued. So take advantage of cruise control whenever you’re out on the open road!
  • Turn off the A/C: Cranking the A/C can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 20% but so can speeding along with the windows down due to the extra drag. For optimum efficiency, roll the windows down at speeds of 60km/h or less and turn on the A/C when you’re going faster than that.
  • Plan your itinerary in advance: Instead of making separate trips, consolidate your route in one big loop or make all your smaller stops within an hour. A long trip of flowing off-peak arterial roads with occasional stops along the way will take you further for the same quantity of fuel than making a series of short trips, each from a cold start.
  • Pack less: Easier said than done but smart packing will significantly reduce your fuel consumption. If you’re not going to hit the golf course, leave the clubs at home. And if you’re not planning on surfing, take off the roof racks.

Surviving a family road trip with kids

  • Keep them busy: Listen to their favourite tunes, play a family game of ‘I Spy’ or ‘Spotto’ and pack a couple of puzzles or books to keep young minds busy. If your kids use electronic devices, download a new game before departure, make sure they’re fully charged and ensure you have appropriately long cables so they can charge them on the go.
  • Snack it up: Pack a mix of snacks and drinks to save you from pulling over on the highway whenever meal time hits. Prepare a multi-compartment ‘snackle’ box or food caddy filled with a variety of fruit, sandwiches, cheese, nuts and sweets to keep snacks at kids’ fingertips. If you’re looking for mess-free snacks, seaweed slices, dried fruit, celery or carrot sticks, and grapes are great options!
  • Break the drive up: Don’t forget to factor in regular rest stops every two hours to refresh the whole family and get some fresh air, stretch your legs, find a toilet, explore the sites of a new town, or head for a park or playground so kids can burn off some energy. The kids will be happier and you’ll be a more attentive driver…


Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids events, attractions & things to do with kids, schools and education, school holiday guides, health & wellbeing for families, parenting and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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