Online Planning Tools Make Road Trips A Snap

on September 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Use planning tools from to save fuel and money on your summer road trips. | Photo courtesy of Pat Corkery/NREL.

The road trip is part of the classic American dream—setting off on the open road to destinations known or unknown. But we’re not in the 1950s anymore and neither are our vehicles. Drivers today want to save money on fuel so they have more to spend on activities. Fortunately, the Department of Energy (DOE) has a number of interactive, online travel tools to help you plan your route to the perfect Memorial Day get-away., which DOE co-manages with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provides drivers with a wealth of information to help them use less fuel and save money.’s Trip Calculator allows drivers with more than one vehicle in their garage to determine which will be the best for their trip.  It also calculates estimated fuel consumption and cost for any particular route using a specific car.

Travelers can save even more money by consulting’s Gas Mileage Tips before they go. Some tips are useful anytime, such as observing the speed limit—which saves you $0.17/gallon on highways for every five miles per hour you slow down. But some tips are particularly good to know about for long-distance travel. For example, using a rear-mounted cargo box or tray instead of a roof rack can improve your fuel economy by up to 12%, which can add up to quite a bit over hundreds of miles.

If you have an alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicle, DOE has even more opportunities for planning ahead. has special tips specific to improving the efficiency of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles, helping you get the most out of your advanced vehicle.

DOE’s Alternative Fuel Data Center is a one-stop-shop for information about alternative fuel vehicles. Its Alternative Fueling Station Locator allows you to find more than 16,000 public alternative fuel and charging stations across the country. In particular, its Plan a Route toolplots out stations of the alternative fuel you choose—including biodiesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, E85 (a blend of up to 85% ethanol), or propane—along a specific geographic route. There are even different options for different types of fuels. For example, if you have an all-electric vehicle but don’t want to stop for long to charge up, you can choose to view only DC (direct-current) fast-charging stations.