My name is Will Huff. I’m an instructor at Arkansas State University. I also have a small marketing company called Huff Media Services that helps support my teaching habit. In October 2015, my wife and I bought our first Toyota Prius. We knew that to build our business – we needed to see clients who were a few hours away – we would need to do a lot of driving and a Prius was the best way to help us cut our costs. We bought a used, silver, 2011 PriusII with 70,000 miles on it. We were instantly in love with our car. We were in love with the spaciousness of the hatchback and the headroom. We were in love with the quietness of the ride. Most of all, we were in love with the gas mileage. Since buying the Prius our lives have changed. We have gone to just about everywhere we can get to by car, we have seen so many new places, and my driving habits and lifestyle habits have changed for the better due to the purchase of our Prius.
Let’s go places. That phrase now has a different meaning post-Prius. My wife, being from Brazil, had seen just a fraction of the sights in the USA. She had been to a few places, but not to too many of the famous landmarks. So we were anxious to get on the road with our new Prius.
Our first weekend with the new car, we went to Chicago for my wife’s birthday. The next weekend, we went to the Smoky Mountains for my birthday. In the first ten days of being Prius owners, we had already traveled over 2,000 miles! Three weeks later we embarked on our first big road trip post-Prius, we decided to touch all of the states in the Northeastern USA during Thanksgiving break.
During the Thanksgiving trip, we were able to see Niagara Falls, New York City, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Plymouth Rock, and many other sights. It was during this trip that we found a way to create a sleeping space in the back of the Prius to save on hotel costs.
By the end of this trip, my wife and I had been to all states east of the Mississippi River and that got us thinking about driving to the rest of the states that we had yet to visit. We wanted to touch each of the lower 48 states in the USA. We had already visited a few before the Prius, but we were bound to see the rest post-Prius.
We decided to make our second epic road trip in December, during my winter break from the university. We left on a Thursday morning and zigzagged from Arkansas up to North Dakota and over to Washington. We had to bypass Mount Rushmore and Wyoming due to a winter storm. We went down the west coast to the Redwood National Forest in California and down highway 101 towards San Francisco. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went all the way down to San Diego. We left California and took I-40 across four other states before returning to Arkansas. Due to major snowstorms, we were unable to visit Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
By the end of 2015 just 60 days into owning a Prius, we had traveled to 40 states and had seen over 9,000 miles of road on just three of the trips. We had driven a total of 20,000 miles from October to January.
2016 started off a slow on the big trips, but we finally had a chance to hit the road again during Spring Break. We mapped out a course and hit the road. During the eight days on the road, we visited Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, and the Rocky Mountains. By the 5th day of travel, we had completed our goal of visiting the lower 48 states!
In just 150 days and 30,000 miles post-Prius, we had traveled to 45 different states together. A woman from Brazil was able to go to each of the lower 48 because of our Toyota Prius, which is something that most Americans cannot say they have done.
Trying to save money on gas has actually changed the way I drive. I used to be one to have quick take-offs from the stop lights and stop signs, but now, since I have a monitor tracking the economy of my driving by showing me the miles per gallon (MPG,) I am more careful to not rev the engine too high. I am now conscious of keeping the RPM low so that the MPG do not go down. I’m also more conscious of my speed on the expressway. I drive differently to keep my MPG as high as I possibly can, which has lead to me being a safer driver. Having a Prius really has affected my driving style and habits.
Another aspect of my life that has changed is how I spend my money. My wife and I have developed the habit of equating money spent to possible miles that could be driven. When we want to buy a meal that would cost $20, sometimes we will say, “That’s more than 400 miles.” Meaning that if we didn’t buy that, we could get 400 miles of a road trip instead. It has actually lead to us having a bigger savings account and being more conscious about our spending habits. Our savings account is definitely bigger, post-Prius.
When we do shop though, we now have no problems with going to towns that are a little further away. The great gas mileage of the Prius allows us to leave Jonesboro, Arkansas and travel to cities like Memphis and Little Rock, which are more than one hour away, because it doesn’t take too much fuel to get us there. So it’s no problem to go to places where we can shop for better deals than we can get in a smaller town.
Having a Prius has really affected our lives and lifestyles in more ways than we could’ve imagined. All for the better. The only regret that I have about our purchase is that I did not get us a newer model PriusV with fewer miles. Because of the fact that we use the hatch area to sleep in on nights we are just passing through and to save money on hotel costs, we could really use the extra space that the PriusV has to offer. Also, today we passed the 100,000 miles mark in our car, meaning that it’s now definitely a high-mileage vehicle. With the new traveling habits that we have developed, it won’t be long until we are really high on miles and in the not too distant future may not be able to go on the epic type road trips that we have become accustomed to.
I’ll sum it all up by saying that purchasing a Toyota Prius was a really big deal. It has lead to lifestyle changes, but really has changed our lives. We have seen so many things in that last 150 days that we wouldn’t have had we not purchased a Prius. Toyota’s motto is “Let’s Go Places,” and since my wife and I bought our Prius, that has also become our motto.
Let’s Go Places!