My first cross-country driving experience was nearly 70 years ago. Three Navy shipmates and I had just returned from World War II duty in the Pacific and had to get from San Francisco to Philadelphia. With train and air traffic jammed by a million other guys trying to get home, we chipped in and bought a used 1939 Plymouth for $500. We headed southeast, hit Route 66, took turns driving, and made the 3,000-mile trip home in about 75 hours. At the time, gas was 15¢ a gallon. That was then. There are many intelligent ways savvy drivers can cut back on the cost of summer road travel.
Tip-Top Condition: You make all the right moves and eat healthy foods to keep your body in shape to meet all possible challenges. Before a long road trip, your car should also be fit and ready for the tough summer journeys ahead. Be sure the engine is well-tuned, the oil new, tires rotated, electronics sharp and everything else on the car in absolute top condition.
Healthy Attitude: Just as your car and body must be raring to hit the highway, so should your senior mind. You’re certain to hit road repairs, slow-downs, traffic congestion and uncooperative other drivers. Keep a positive attitude and don’t let frustration take the pleasure out of your summer ventures. Pull over and rest at least once every three hours, and find up to eight hours of each 24 for sleep, preferably on a flat surface. If your GPS tells you there’s a road block ahead due to an accident or repair work, find an off-highway café to have a cup of coffee and snack until the way is clear again.
Slowdown Saves: Statistics show that every 5 MPH over 60 adds 25¢ a gallon to your cost of gas. If your summer journeys require 1,000 gallons, that’s $250 you can use for meals and motel overnights. Realistically consider your reflexes and eysight. If they aren’t as sharp as they once were, don’t take chances by going beyond speed limits. It’s also wise to avoid the day’s heaviest traffic by doing your long-distance driving during late night and before dawn when the roads are clear.
Stay Smart With Smartphone: Before you leave home and continue constantly while on the road, keep checking your smartphone or tablet about road conditions, restaurants, motels and price deals. Acquire as much current information you’re sure to need to plan and follow your route. Fortunately for we seasoned citizens, the old days of print road maps, remote street signs and dim highway exits are fading away.