How to travel light, all year round


With the holiday season just days away and some long road trips coming up, we’re all hoping that the forecasts for a really significant fuel price drop this week are correct.

But even if it does happen, the decrease will probably only take the inland price of petrol (95 octane) down to around R15 per litre – which is a whopping R9 more per litre than it was at this time 10 years ago - and will still make the average price for this year higher than the previous record average of R13,96, which was reached in 2013.

And as we all know, high fuel prices and bad for inflation, bad for interest rates and bad for the economy as a whole, not to mention bad for our individual household budgets and savings plans.

In fact, the latest AA survey revealed that 39% of SA’s road users are already travelling “much less” in an attempt to reduce the effect of high fuel prices, and our own experience shows a significant increase in the number of consumers moving house specifically to be closer to work, schools and amenities and cut down on their commutes.  

However, there are some trips we all still have to make, and even if you are in a lift-club or carpool, it’s worth keeping the following tips in mind to lower fuel consumption and costs:

  • Maintain your car. Have it serviced regularly to make sure it is running optimally and check your tyre pressure every two to three weeks as soft tyres mean higher consumption.
  • Drive streamlined. Keep the windows closed when cruising and avoid roof racks and trailers whenever possible as these increase the vehicle’s air resistance and fuel consumption. Use the air conditioner sparingly and switch it off once the interior has cooled down to a comfortable temperature.
  • Don’t let your car idle to warm up on cold mornings, as this burns a lot of fuel. Rather drive off as soon as you can and go slowly while the engine reaches normal operating temperature. 
  • Reduce speed. Air resistance – and the amount of fuel required to propel the vehicle – rises exponentially as speed increases, so try to reduce your usual cruising speed by at least 10km/h. If you have cruise control, so much the better.
  • When driving in traffic, try to go with the flow and not have too many “hard” stops and starts. Driving in a lower gear does use more fuel than higher gears, but not nearly as much as it takes to repeatedly get the vehicle going again after coming to a halt.

Keep a log-book. Start with a full tank and record how many kilometers you have traveled at each subsequent fill-up, as well as the cost of each tankful. This is a really good way to keep track of your consumption and divide fuel costs fairly if you have a lift-club. It will also alert you to a possible problem if consumption per litre suddenly declines.

News from previous months