Saving Cash on Cottage Trips

16 May 2014 About The Finances

Driving to the Cottage
How can you save money on gas and expenses when driving to the cottage?
Cottage trips can be expensive, so we need to make the commute to the lake as efficient as possible.

Before You Go

The best way to save money on gas and improve your mileage is to look after some simple car maintenance tips before you start your road trip.

Tire Air Pressure
Check the air pressure in your tires. Fuel efficiency drops considerably when the tire pressure is below the level recommended by the manufacturer. The tires should all be inflated to the proper pressure level. Check the pressure again before you plan to return home. Also make sure the spare is in good shape and ready for action.

Service And Maintenance
Get the vehicle serviced. If you are due for a tune-up, have it done before you start the summer cottage road trips. Oil changes, filter cleaning, new tires, new brakes, new wipers, new spark plugs, etc. all have an effect on the performance of your vehicle.

Avoid Overloading The Car
Minimize the weight your car is forced to carry. Organize your cottage weekend gear and then do a triage to remove the items that are not really needed so that you take only what is absolutely necessary. The heavier the load, the more expensive the trip because the car has to work much harder to carry all the extra weight. Consider buying your food and beverages in the town nearest to your cottage rather than bringing it all from home.

Choosing The Right Car
Use the smaller car for the cottage trip when you have more than one family vehicle. If you normally take the SUV to the lake but don’t need the extra space or towing capacity, take the smaller car instead. It is much better on gas. Why would you waste all that extra money on fuel if you don’t need to?

In some cases, car rental companies give great deals on weekend rentals. The money you save on gas by not taking the SUV may be more than the cost of the rental and the cheaper gas costs.

Infographic: How to save cash when driving to the cottage
Save money on cottage road trips

While You Are Driving

How can you improve your mileage while you are driving?
There are a number of ways to save on gas costs while you are driving. Much of them have to do with your driving style and the plan for the road trip.

Avoid traffic jams. The constant stop and go process of driving through traffic is not only stressful but it also causes unnecessary wear and tear on the vehicle and burns through more fuel.  Consider leaving very early in the morning or late at night.

Drive the speed limit. The extra fuel consumption isn’t worth the perceived benefit of arriving a few minutes early. You may be excited and eager to get to the cabin as fast as possible but the fish will still be there if you take your time, and the money you save on gas will pay for the bait. A speeding ticket not only adds significantly to your travel costs, it also eats up all the valuable time you thought you were going to gain by driving quickly.

Cruise Control
If your vehicle comes with cruise control you should use it. Driving at a constant speed is more fuel efficient than accelerating to pass slower vehicles and then slowing down to avoid the speed traps. Set your cruise control at the speed limit and don’t play with it.

Wildlife On The Road
Watch for animals on the road in rural areas. Deer and moose have a habit of ruining a trip to the cottage. Passengers should help the driver spot any wildlife along the side of the road. If you plan to drive at night or in the early morning, you have to be especially careful of wildlife on the road. Even a smaller animal such as a raccoon, groundhog, or fox can cause you to lose control if you hit one.

Pit Stops
Minimize the number of stops you make along the highway. Fill the gas tank and empty the bladder before you leave. Taking a few moments to stretch and get some air is important but you should combine refueling stops with bathroom breaks and plan them out before you start the trip. Every extra stop wastes more gas and uses up valuable time.

Bring lunch and snacks with you. If you are not crossing the border, pack a healthy lunch for the road trip. As tempting as the french fry truck may be, stopping for fast food on the highway is expensive, time consuming, and unhealthy. Juices and water are a better idea than soda if you want to keep the sugar and caffeine levels of the passengers at a low level.

If You Cross the U.S. / Canada Border

Crossing the border adds a few extra considerstions when planning a road trip.

Bring your passport. It is now mandatory to present a passport as your source of identification. If you don’t have it the authorities will not let you cross the border.

Bait And Firewood
Don’t bring live fishing baits or firewood. Transporting bait and firewood across international and provincial borders is generally prohibited.

Plan your vehicle packing in a way that is orderly and efficient. Remember that the car and the boat must be packed in a way that can be easily searched and re-packed at the border. You don’t want to make the customs officers grumpy.

Hats And Sunglasses
Always remove your hat and sunglasses as you pass through customs. The officer must be able to quickly and easily identify each person according to their identification.

Be polite. Waiting in line to cross the border can be frustrating but it is important to keep your cool and simply answer the questions that are asked of you when you reach the customs officer. Wise cracks, jokes, or unsolicited remarks may cause you to be delayed much longer than necessary.

Bring the required registration papers for your pets. You don’t want Fido or Fifi to be quarantined. Make sure that you have all the necessary health, ownership, and identity documents that may be requested at the border.

Boat And Trailer Registration
Bring updated insurance and registration documents. Make sure you have all of the required paperwork for the car, boat, and trailer. It must be up to date and ready to give to the customs officers or police if required.

Learning how to reduce gas costs and travel expenses when you drive to the cottage just requires a bit of extra planning. The reward is certainly worth the effort, and the few hundred dollars you save each year can be used for more enjoyable things.

Go to the Cottage Opening Checklist page.
Go to the Renting A Cottage page.
Go to the Being A Good Cottage Guest page.