Fuel costs are simply a part of self-drive holidays especially if you’re towing. But you needn’t take foolish risks to keep them down. Many fuel saving strategies improve your holidays in more ways than one. Here’s our smart guide to fuel economy and towing.
YOUR RIG: FUEL ECONOMY AND TOWING
We all know to service our rig before a big trip, but what about the van or trailer? Healthy brakes and suspension not only protect your trailer but reduce workload on your vehicle as well.
Ideally, rigs meeting weight limitations set-out by the van and vehicle manufacturers should enjoy fair fuel economy, but you need to factor in the conditions. If you’re frequently off-road or driving in poorer conditions, a bigger engine or a smaller trailer delivers better fuel efficiency.
EQUIP FOR THE TRIP
With six seasons and eight climate zones in this great nation, overpacking is a common trap impacting fuel efficiency and safety. Over time, you’ll know what’s worth keeping; the trick is to donate, post out or discard what you don’t (respectively, of course).
Staying at a caravan park with family? Save on water and leave the MAXTRAK at home. Use onsite sullage where you can and dump points frequently when you can’t.
To minimise clutter-tax on your caravanning or motorhome adventures follow the two-use rule, where every object serves two jobs. A collapsible bucket can hold laundry, and carry water to extinguish campfires. Choose lightweight items and, where appropriate, buy as you go.
And get specific when culling. We all use dishes but campsite chefs needn’t carry an eight-place setting when guests can bring their own.
LEARN FROM THE BEST
Safety-wise, towing courses make sense but those new-found skills also pay off at the bowser. Braking strategies and defensive driving improve fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent, so why not learn them from a professional driver? You’ll make less mess exiting sticky situations–saving you time, fuel and potentially your clutch, which believe me is no fun.
MAPS AND PLANS
You can’t plan for everything but unexpected conditions wreak havoc with fuel budgets so equip yourself with the latest information. Updating your maps minimises backtracking but heed advice from official sources and the traveller grapevine as well.
In rural regions, caravan park and roadhouses vendors stay abreast of the conditions. Keep realistic timelines so you’re not pressured to drive your rig harder.
The more time you spend at camp the less fuel expenses you’ll incur. What’s more, enjoying a few extra days at one place injects flexibility into your schedule should you lose a day or more due to weather. You needn’t go without services either, with many caravan parks offering a free extra day if you hang around.
After several thousand country kays, a peak hour hike is a rude shock that can take its toll on your rig. During the week, inner-city Melbourne and Sydney traffic won’t subside until after 10am and can start building up by three. Plan your route accordingly and if you’re visiting friends, think about storing the van out of town.
UNLEASH THE FOURBIE
Like to get among it? Off-road trailers and vans provide unparalleled comfort and freedom but for rock crawling nothing beats an unhitched 4WD. In low gear situations, you’ll use at least 2 to 3 times the fuel per kilometre on the road, and that adds up quick when towing a heavy load.
So, establish campsite, and set the fourbie free.
Where unavoidable, head off-road in convoy and divide essential gear so no one’s burdening engines. It’s a far safer way to travel anyway.