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8 essential road trip tips

Check out the Madison Magazine road trips playlist

Make the most of your road trip with these tips and then start planning your vacation to one of these great getaways.

Improve Gas Mileage
Don’t speed and you’ll be rewarded by saving money on gas. According to some estimates, driving over the speed limit (at highway speeds) lowers your gas mileage by 15 to 30 percent. Using cruise control on highways will help you save gas. During longer trips, avoid hauling things on the roof of your car. Less wind resistance will improve your fuel economy. 

Choose a Fuel-efficient Car
If traveling in a group, figure out who has the most fuel-efficient car and consider carpooling. Not only can you save on travel costs, you can also travel longer distances without stopping. Visit fueleconomy.gov/trip to calculate miles per gallon and fuel costs for a particular trip.

Don’t Forget About Tolls
When traveling south of Wisconsin, you may run into tolls on the Illinois Tollway. Cruise through the open tollway lane by investing in an I-PASS, a prepaid electronic toll collection system that starts at $30. Tolls are 50 percent cheaper with an I-PASS, and users can go through a toll plaza without having to dig for change or waste trip time. If you’re not interested in investing in an I-PASS, make sure you have enough change to cover tolls throughout the trip. Visit illinoistollway.com/travel-information/maps for an interactive map for toll rates along your route.

Create a Parking Plan
By the time you arrive at your destination, the last thing you want to think about is parking. Parking in big cities can be one of the biggest challenges, but apps like ParkWhiz make it easier. ParkWhiz allows you to reserve spaces in advance and offers up to 50 percent off normal prices. ParkWhiz is available in all the cities on our road trip list except those in the Upper Peninsula.

Break It Up
Just because you can get to a destination without stopping doesn’t mean you have to. Stop along the way for lunch or to do a bit of exploring. On your way to Marquette, make a pit stop in Green Bay to see the 50-foot Super Bowl trophy replica at Lambeau Field. On the way to Indianapolis, the Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana, is worth a side trip. On the farm you can grab a bite at the Dairycatessen, experience a 3D/4D movie or check out the Pig Adventure, which opened in March.

Keep an Eye on the Weather
Before hitting the road, make sure to check the weather forecast. You won’t want to forget a raincoat if the forecast calls for rain, or sunglasses and sunscreen if planning to spend time outside in the sun.

Crunch the Numbers
Gas volumes vary, which means the distance and time traveled without a pit stop differ from vehicle to vehicle. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a trip calculator that figures out miles per gallon, fuel prices and routes for almost any make and model vehicle. Visit fueleconomy.gov/trip to look up your own make and model and map out the mileage and fuel costs for your next trip.

Crank the Tunes
A perfect playlist makes a trip even more enjoyable. Our staff picked a few favorites for the ultimate road trip playlist. These picks truly run the gamut. Visit Spotify to find the “Madison Magazine’s Road Trip Tunes” playlist.

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