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Does AC Use Gas On A Roadtrip? (And 5 Other Travel Myths DEBUNKED)

Does AC Use Gas On A Roadtrip?

When it comes to AC in a car, I’ve often wondered two things:

  1. Does AC use gas on a road trip?
  2. Why exactly is AC bad for you, anyways? Is it even bad for you?

This article will be focused on question #1 and I’ve just asked my editor if we can cover question #2 in another post. Stay tuned!

With gas prices skyrocketing and becoming a huge concern for most people, let’s use all the help we can get!

So, Will Keeping The AC Off Save Gas?

does ac use gas
Image: @aztecthegrey on Instagram

While I’d love to be able to give you a solid yes-or-no answer, it’s not quite that simple.

As with so many things, the answer to the question ‘does AC use gas?’ depends on the situation. There are a lot of different cars out there. Each of them have different configurations and ways that the AC draws on the engine.

One thing I can tell you, however, is that for most vehicles, using the AC will add a slight load to the engine. The difference, though, won’t be noticeable to most consumers.

How About Driving With The Windows Down?

does ac use gas
Image: @asand68 on Instagram

Here’s the kicker!

I always thought that it would be more eco-friendly to drive with the windows down instead of cranking the AC. NOT TRUE!! And the reason why makes perfect sense.

When you have your windows down, it makes your car much less aerodynamic! Instead of just sweeping along the smooth surface of your car as you drive, the air has to travel inside the windows and into the car. Because of this, it requires more effort from your engine which of course uses more gasoline.

We Fact Check 5 More Common Travel Myths

#1) Traveling Is Expensive

does ac use gas
Image: @feelingofluxury on Instagram

Of course traveling can be expensive. Luxury hotels and private transfers can add up real quick. However, there is definitely a way to travel cheap. Because of this, traveling can actually be cheaper than living in most major cities.

You can take a lot of steps to minimize your costs while traveling. Couch-surfing, AirBNB, and co-travel are becoming more and more accessible. Apps are being created every day for the increasing number of people taking to the road with location independence with their work.

Check out this post for 10 cheap and safe travel destinations to add to your bucket list.

#2) Traveling Alone Is Dangerous

does ac use gas
Image: @ckdowling on Instagram

As above, traveling alone can be dangerous. Especially as a woman in certain areas of the world. However, traveling alone can also be liberating, fun, and less irritating than traveling with other people.

When you travel with people, you get to know a side of them that you might not want to know. When you travel with yourself, you may get to know parts of yourself that you need to know.

#3) You Can Somehow Trick Your Body Into Not Being Jet-Lagged 

does ac use gas
Image: @caarlotaakent on Instagram

There are things you can do to minimize jet-lag. One of my favourite on this list is to aim to arrive early if you have a meeting. Stress can make so many things worse, and jet-lag is one of them.

However, jet-lag is a natural response of your body to the disruption of your circadian rhythms. Instead of thinking of ‘tricking’ your body, why not think of supporting it, resting well, and minimizing resistance to a natural occurrence?

#4) Stand By Flights Are A Reliable And Cheap Way To Fly

does ac use gas
Image: @oga_mak on Instagram

Most airlines don’t offer standby anymore, unless it’s to their staff. You can no longer go to the airport and ask for a cheap standby and actually get a flight. They’ll probably just look at you funny and tell you about the invention of the internet.

However, you can always try to find a friend who works for an airline! I always try to find friend with boats but that doesn’t often work out for me. I’d love to link to a website with a directory of people who work for airlines who need friends but there’s no app for that.

There’s a weird Quora question about how to become friends with a flight attendant but the intention behind the question is unclear.

#5) Traveling Is Unsafe Nowadays Thanks To COVID

does ac use gas
Image: @silvicleykelvy on Instagram

I’m writing this from San Jose del Cabo while I travel Baja. I recently went back to my home Vancouver… and got COVID there! I’d been in Mexico for nine months with no COVID, and went home to my first-world country and got so sick I thought I might die. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

Point is, a lot of countries are safer than Canada when it comes to the virus. I won’t open up an unenjoyable debate about how our country has responded to COVID, but I will say that most countries are much more conscientious than we may think.

In Conclusion

Using AC on a road trip doesn’t tend to use enough gas to matter.

Driving with the windows down, however, reduces the aerodynamic-ness of your car, and puts more strain on the engine, hence using more gas.

Conclusion: If you need to chill out, use the AC.

And when it comes to traveling, don’t believe all the myths you hear!

To more (safe) enjoyment of this beautiful world!


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