Get Out, Go Green: Tips for an Environmentally-Friendly Road Trip

Categorized | Lifestyle


Environmentally-Friendly Road Trip

This guest post is by Dana Love of

Heading out on the highway as soon as the weather gets warm is an American tradition. Like many American traditions, however, it leaves something to be desired in the environmental-consciousness department. In terms of raw carbon emissions, driving is almost as bad as flying, the most wasteful form of commercial travel. Fortunately, recent technological advancements have made it easier to offset the inherent wastefulness of your next road trip and ease your mind in the process. Read on for some simple green road trip tips.

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1. Pack ‘Em in

A little sacrifice goes a long way. If your travel party can reasonably fit into a single vehicle, choose the largest one possible so that you’ll be able to comfortably stuff your possessions into its cargo areas as well. Even if the larger vehicle gets poorer gas mileage than your around-town economy car, it will still probably burn less fuel than two smaller cars. Be sure to utilize your roof racks and towing hitch if possible.

2. Electric Zoom

Then again, all bets are off if you have access to a hybrid-electric car, which usually have gas mileage figures that triple those of typical family SUVs. If you have a smaller travel party that can comfortably fit into a hatchback or small-minivan hybrid vehicle, consider renting one. The money you’ll save on gas will easily offset the added cost of renting over the span of a long road trip.

3. Get Serviced

Giving your car over to a professional mechanic for an afternoon will extend its life and squeeze more out of its gas tank. Before a big road trip, be sure to rotate and fully inflate your tires, change your oil, and flush your radiator. Taken together, these simple fixes can boost your gas mileage by up to ten percent.

4. Slow Down

There’s an obvious but often-overlooked law of highway driving: For every additional 5 miles per hour of speed over 60, you’ll spend about 20 cents more per gallon of fuel. In other words, if gas costs $4 per gallon, you’ll be spending the equivalent of $4.60 per gallon to drive an even 75 miles per hour over the course of your road trip. You’ll also be burning more fuel in general. Reaching your destination faster isn’t necessarily more efficient.

5. Eat Green

Eat locally and avoid fast food restaurants wherever possible. This is easier said than done on the American Interstate Highway system, where many exits are surrounded by a cluster of fast food establishments just waiting to be patronized by hungry travelers. Nevertheless, fast food’s supply chain is far less efficient because of the transportation costs associated with sourcing ingredients from all over the world. Sitting down to a nice meal at a local restaurant that uses fresh, local produce is a far greener option. As a plus, you’ll get a slice of local life to go along with your food.

Is there anything more American than a leisurely summer road trip? That slice of locally-sourced apple pie at the roadside family restaurant comes pretty close. So does making your next vacation as green as possible. With the easy-to-follow tips outlined above and your own creative ideas, you can hit the road without feeling guilty about leaving a dinosaur-sized carbon footprint behind.

Dana Love is a full-time freelance writer living in New York.  She recommends the site, for <a href=””>Roadside recovery</a> information.  You’ll find information <a href=””>Breakdown cover companies and reviews</a> to compare services.

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