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Will gas hikes mean your holiday tanks? Add to ...

Summertime means road tripping. This summer, however, higher gas prices are going to take a bigger bite out Canadians' vacation budgets. On June 1, gas prices averaged $1.30 a litre - a 30-per-cent hike from the summer of 2009.

Forty-three per cent of Canadians in a recent survey said higher gas prices were causing them to rethink their summer plans. According to the ING Direct poll, 8 per cent of travellers said they were no longer planning a particular trip, and 35 per cent said they planned to stay closer to home this year.

More than half of those surveyed said they make regular contributions to a vacation fund, and 85 per cent said they are not willing to go into debt to fund their summer travel.

While 3 per cent of Canadians plan to shell out more than $5,000 on travel, the majority, 59 per cent, expect to spend less than $1,000, and 30 per cent said they would spend less this summer than last.

Bank of Montreal did a similar summer travel survey and found that while almost 80 per cent of Canadians are taking a summer vacation this year, the majority, 57 per cent, plan to stay within Canada.

BMO also looked at the difference in the cost of gas for popular road trips and calculated that at $1.30 a litre, a cross-country trip from Vancouver to Charlottetown in a 2009 Honda Odyssey would cost $1,848.51, compared to $1,421.93 when gas was at $1 a litre, a $426.58 difference.

Tips for saving on gas this summer:

1. Get a tune-up. According to the Canadian Automobile Association, a poorly maintained engine can increase fuel consumption by up to 50 per cent.

2. Keep it slow and steady. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so don't weave in and out of traffic. And don't speed, no matter how many times the kids ask, "Are we there yet?" The CAA says it takes 20-per-cent more fuel to go the same distance at 120 km/h than it does at 100 km/h. Speeding tickets aren't cheap, either.

3. Drive at off-peak times. Hit the road after rush hour to avoid idling in traffic. Late in the day, the sun's not as hot and there's less need to run the air conditioner, which is an added drain on fuel. Also, the kids are more likely to fall asleep at the end of the day, which makes for a peaceful drive.

4. Fill up your tank and tires. According to Bank of Montreal's new travel-economy guide, fuel that sloshes around in a half-empty tank tends to vaporize and leak away. Also, you can improve your car's fuel economy by up to 3 per cent simply by inflating tires to the proper pressure.

Dianne Nice writes for Globe Investor's Home Cents blog.

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