It’s been pretty painful for grey nomads watching prices at the bowser sky-rocket in recent weeks. When it comes to budgeting for taking the Big Lap around Australia, fuel is the one cost that generally stands head and shoulders above all others for grey nomads, and there’s not much you can do about it … or can you?.
While you can have some control over the amount you spend on food and drink and on camping fees, the conventional wisdom is that there is simply no escaping the need to keep topping up the tank. Most grey nomads simply grit their teeth and resign themselves to the fact that it is going to cost ‘X’ amount to cover ‘X’ amount of kilometres.
However, a driving experiment a few years ago revealed how dramatically behaviour behind the wheel can affect fuel consumption levels, and how changing it can save long-term travellers thousands of dollars.
As part of a challenge set by Caltex, Helen and John Taylor took their Volkswagen Passat on a 38-day, 18,830-kilometre odyssey around Australia … and the fuel efficiency they achieved stunned the experts.
Travelling in cities, as well as regional and Outback areas, the couple used 25.5% less fuel per 100km than estimated by Volkswagen. Instead of using the predicted 19.5 tanks of petrol, the Taylors used less than 14.5 tanks. That equates to an extra 331 kilometres extra per tank.
“In 38 days we saved more than five tanks of petrol – imagine what you could do over 12 months!” said Mr Taylor. “The best part though was proving the benefits of combining fuel efficient driving techniques – like accelerating gently, ensuring tyres are properly inflated and avoiding idling – with regular servicing and the use of Caltex Vortex 98.”
It’s food for thought for the thousands of grey nomads who have to watch their budget carefully.
“Those statistics made me sit up and take notice,” said grey nomad Roscoe D. “I’m certainly going to see if I can change my ways and get a few more kilometres per dollar in the tank.”