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Driving to Orlando

Saving on Gasoline Locating the Cheapest Gas Information for Motorists Other Driving Information and Tips Car Travel Activities for Kids

Driving to Orlando

Driving to Orlando can be a great option. There are many reasons that make driving to Orlando a more appealing option than flying. Sometimes the cost of flying can be significantly more than driving, especially if you have a larger family. Some people prefer to have their own car to use during the trip. Some people don’t like to fly or live close enough to the area that flying is not an economical option.

Strategies for Saving on Gasoline

Everyone is concerned when gas prices climb. Strategies to save on gas abound on the Internet: route your trip to avoid congested cities, keep the tire pressure inflated close to the maximum, and maintain fluids and filters. In addition, here are a few others that will help keep fuel cost down if you’re planning on driving to Orlando.

  • Have a good idea of what fuel will cost ahead of time. You can estimate the fuel cost of your trip using AAA’s Fuel Calculator. Enter the starting and ending destinations and the make, model and year of your car.
  • Buy your gas the day before you travel. You already know where the best gas deals are near your house, so you might as well purchase the first tank of your trip at a price you know and can control.
  • Roadways are busier on holiday weekends. If possible, avoid planning your trip during Memorial Day, 4th of July or Labor Day weekends.
  • Packing drinks and snacks will help cut down on frequent stops that can decrease gas mileage.
  • Drive at night when there is less traffic.  Overall, the engine will run cooler and there will be less required stops.
  • Avoid overloading the car. For every extra 100 pounds fuel economy is cut by about 2%. Depending on the length of stay, you may save money by taking less luggage and doing a few loads of laundry. Waiting to purchase or rent larger items such as food supplies, coolers or strollers after you arrive can help prevent overloading the car. Resist the urge to haul all of the kids’ toys. If you must bring large items and extras, avoid packing them on the roof. Using a luggage rack to haul a suitcase and cooler (and driving with cruise control set at 65 mph) caused a 21 percent loss in fuel economy according to tests done by Edmunds.com.
  • Fill up with the cheaper gas. If the manual says Premium fuel is “recommended,” but not “required,” fill up with Regular. According to AAA, this won’t hurt a thing and will save you about 10% on the price of a fill-up.
  • Drive at a constant speed. Aggressive acceleration and hard braking waste an amazing amount of fuel and increases fuel costs by about 25%. According to CNN Money, driving 70 mph instead of 60 mph is the equivalent of paying 54 cents extra per gallon. Using cruise control can improve fuel economy by 10 to 15 percent, according to Edmunds.com.
  • Go ahead and use the air conditioner on the open highway. Test reports from Edmunds.com show at speeds of 65 mph running the air makes very little difference in fuel usage.
  • If you have GPS satellite navigation, use it to change routes on the fly. Avoiding traffic jams can save a lot of gas.
  • Choose exits with several gas stations and restaurants to eliminate extra stops. If the sign lists two or more stations, you can benefit from the fact that there is competition for your business. The station farthest from the exit will typically have the lowest prices, and often can be less than a fraction of a mile out of your way.
  • Anyone who has filled the tank of their rental car at the station located just outside the car rental zone of a major airport knows that you pay top dollar. These stations realize they may be the last chance in a rush to make flights and price-gouge accordingly. Avoid fill ups in areas of major airports. Be aware that some of the cheapest stations don’t accept credit cards. Keep some cash handy rather than forego a good deal on gas.
  • Use planning sites like Mapquest.com to plan out your trip in advance, and show you which restaurants are available at each exit along your route and which gas station exit has the cheapest gas. Customize your entire trip with maps and print or download to your cell phone.
  • Finally, don’t be taken in by scams. Be leery of those selling gas coupons, gas gift cards or gas reward programs through online auctions. Then there are the phony gas additives or auto add-ons like “gas tank magnet.” They don’t work and you’ll be better off saving the price of such items and putting extra gas in your tank.

Locating the Cheapest Gas

With a little sleuthing you can locate the cheapest gas along your route. The following is a list of web sites that can help.

  • FuelEconomy.gov – Click on the map and get a list of web sites that track gas prices in your area.
  • GasBuddy.com – Is another site that will located the best online sites to get gas prices in your area.
  • http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com – AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report is updated daily by surveying up to 120,000 stations for unmatched statistical reliability in average state & Metro area gas prices.

For getting gas prices on the go, gas@gasbuddy.com can send them straight to your cell phone. Your cell phone must be able to support sending text messages to an email address to use this service.

Orlando Gas Prices – Zoom in on specific areas on the map or refer to the list of gas prices below it.

  • Grocery stores and wholesale clubs often offer gas at below the average market price. Wal-Mart’s discount card can save 3¢ on the gallon when used to purchase gas. Giant Eagle and other major grocery chain offer “fuel perks” when you shop that allow you to reduce the price you pay at their affiliate stations. Check to see if your local store offers “fuel perks”.
  • Obtain a free credit card that gives gas rebates. Some can save 5% at nearly every gas station. CardRating.com also keeps a page of the best gas rebate cards.

Local Information for Motorists Driving to Orlando

Florida’s 511 Travel Information System offers real-time travel information available 24 hours a day, on the phone or on the Web. Traffic information is free, though cellular minutes or roaming charges may apply. 511 uses speech-recognition technology that allows callers to speak the name of the roadway or area for which they want traffic information. Once connected to the regional service, callers can request information by saying a road’s name or number or giving the city or county. Also available through 511 is information about lane closures and construction, severe weather, public transportation information, airport information and Amber Alerts. Sign up to use the Florida 511 (FL511) system prior to driving to Orlando.

A 511 iPhone app is available for free download on iTunes. The app is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store. The app provides the same real-time traffic and travel time information as the 511 phone system and FL511.com.

Those who need emergency service can reach the Highway Patrol by dialing *347 from a cell phone.

Florida Driving Laws

Current Florida driving laws can be found on the state’s homepage for Florida’s Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  Be sure to check this page to see if your current driver’s license is valid in the state of Florida.

  • Florida law requires young children to remain in various types of child restraints depending upon age.
  • Children ages 6 – 17 years old must wear seat belts
  • Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country regardless is a driver is a first time offender.
  • Unless prohibited by posting, right turns on red are permitted after a brief stop.
  • Never use center turning lanes painted with left pointing arrows to pass
  • Texting and/or using a hand held device while driving is prohibited.  If using your phone for navigation, invest in a cell phone holder for your car.
  • Traveling below the speed limit in the left lane is illegal in Florida. Consequently, violating this law may incur a fine.

Other Driving Information and Tips

Apple’s iTunes Store has a variety of travel applications that you may find useful when driving to Orlando. Here are a few picks for free apps to use during your drive. Simply access the urls in the links below with your iPhone through your iTunes account.

    • Cheap Gas shows you the lowest gas prices nearest your location and then maps the route.
    • Trapster alerts you as you approach speed traps, red light cameras, and speed cameras.
    • View2Road will allow you to add and watch cameras located on highways along your route.
    • SimultravelGPS locates hotels around you and displays rates with maps and directions.
    • WiFi Finder does what the name suggests. Using the GPS function for your phone, this handy little app can locate free WiFi access spots around you.

Car Travel Activities for Kids

Make a Trip-Journal or Scrapbook
Give everyone a big spiral bound sketchpad and a box of colored pencils or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day, or draw a map of where you went, and write about it.  (Note: Crayons may melt in Florida heat).

Get a Good Songbook With All the Lyrics
It surprising how many songs you think you know, but you don’t really know all the words. Have a singing marathon and learn the old classics by heart.

Give Your Kids an Allowance for the Day
Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats, souvenirs etc. As a result, this helps them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

Have Bubble Gum Blowing Contests
The weirder the gum the better. Get it at the rest areas while stretching your legs, and try all the different flavors.

The License Plate Game
Print a U.S. map off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one.  See if you can get all 50 states between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You might even record the time and date and the state where you saw it. This can also be a family project as you build your “collection” of license plates together.

Cats Cradle or String Loops
Amazingly, you just need a piece of string or yarn for this one.  See if you can make  “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Kitty Whiskers”, or play Cats Cradle!

Magnetic Board Games
Do your children know how to play classic board games like Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, or Chinese Checkers?  What better time to learn than in the car to pass the time!  The magnetic car versions of these games are nice because they are small and compact, and have easy ways to store the pieces so they don’t get lost.

Listen to Audiobooks
You can download free audiobooks through most public libraries with a free app called Libby.  Having a good story passes the time quickly in the car.

Lego Contest
Have a contest to see who can build the best item that relates to where you are going. Use a shoebox to store the Legos, or large zip lock bags.

Play Favorites
Have everyone think of different “favorite” questions for the group. For example, what’s your favorite… movie, flavor of ice cream, song, game, toy, place to visit, restaurant, book, animal, fish, etc. Be creative and don’t forget to ask the driver too!

Aluminum Art and Pipe Cleaner
Firstly, give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil or pipe cleaners. Secondly, create it into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, etc. Be creative. Best of all, it’s inexpensive fun and easy to clean up.  Young kids also love this activity.

Rotate Toys and Activities
Don’t give out all supplies at one time.  Focus on one activity, and then trade it for something new after a couple of hours or after a rest stop break to keep things fresh and add variety to your day.

Happy travels!


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