Image: Death Valley National Park
A highway lined with desert gold wildflowers runs through Death Valley National Park, Calif. Going easy on the gas pedal is one way to save money.
updated 5/11/2011 4:26:49 PM ET 2011-05-11T20:26:49

Forget the staycation.

Sure, average gas prices are already $3.97, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, and climbing toward the highest recorded average of $4.11 that crippled travel back in 2008.

Slideshow: Gas-saving road trip tips

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your summer road trip. It’s one of America’s greatest travel traditions — so don’t let horrifyingly high fuel prices stop you. We’ve rounded up easy-to-adopt strategies that could save your vacation.

Start by planning ahead. Gas prices don’t just seem to go up around weekends and holidays, they really do. Don’t wait until July 3 to fill the tank for your Fourth of July road trip (unless there’s a prize for paying the most for gas).

How you drive may make the biggest difference in how far a gallon will take you. We all know that going 75 mph burns fuel faster than going 55 mph. But what also matters is how you push the gas pedal, how you pack your car, and how you handle the AC (no, you don’t have to go without). And did you ever consider using two GPS devices? They can give you vastly different routes, especially if you’re not the type to stick to the highway.

Money-saving strategies have even gone mobile. Apps like FuelFrog allow you to track your mileage to monitor gas prices in your city and your car’s gas efficiency over time. It’s one way that using a cell phone can actually improve your driving.

Still, incentivizing drivers to hit the road can’t hurt, which is why hundreds of hotels across the country are offering gas rebates. Several hotels in Panama City, Fla., have teamed up for a “Giving Tanks” promotion — stay at the Bay Point Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, for instance, and you can get up to a $100 gas gift card. B&Bs are getting into the act, too; search on to find ones serving up special gas promotions.

Whether you’re headed to a B&B or want to take a road trip this summer, here are our essential gas-saving tips to help you maximize your miles — and leave the staycations back home.

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