I confess. I love road trips. I think it’s in my blood. By the time I was 5, I had been across the States twice. Since then, road tripping has become something of a compulsion.
But these days, with concerns about the environment and the skyrocketing price of gasoline, road trips aren’t looking quite so appealing. However, it’s hard to resist something that makes you feel so good. So, here I am, once again, making plans for a road trip. Only this time, I’m looking at it from a green perspective. So along with mapping out routes and stops, I’m also looking at ways a taking a greener road trip. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
1. Choose your car carefully. Renting a hybrid will save on gas which is good for the environment and your wallet. But unfortunately, the cost of renting a hybrid is often more than a regular car.
2. Join the Better World Club, which is similar to the AAA but greener. Their maps highlight the most energy efficient and, often scenic, byways. Better World Club also offers gas rebates, deals on eco-friendly rentals, and a chance for you to purchase carbon offsets to balance your road trips emissions.
3. Increase fuel efficiency by keeping the tires inflated, not driving like a Nascar driver, parking in the shade wherever possible, and believe it or not, turning left less. Apparently turning left takes longer and wastes more gas than turning right.
4. Pack lightly. The more weight in the car, the more gas that will be used. Makes sense. Also pack a tote bag or two for your shopping expeditions and a few re-usable food containers, utensils, and cups. This will save you from having to accept non-recyclable bags, throwaway cups and even takeout containers.
5. Stay green. Look for accommodation that practice eco-friendly initiatives. Start looking before you leave home, using directories such as the Green Hotels Association or the Green Travel Hub. Or, if you’re feeling flush, there’s always Forbes Traveller’s America’s Greenest Hotels to check out.
6. Eat green. When you’re on the road, try to stop for meals at university towns. Why? Because they tend to attract lots of healthy eateries, natural grocery stores, and farmers’ markets. Otherwise, check out resources like Sustainable Tables Eat Well Guide.
7. Charge green. Not talking about the dreaded plastic card here, although there are some credit card companies that do provide (note to self – look into this more). I’m actually talking about investing in a solar charger to keep all your digital electronics – camera, phone, iPod, laptop – in working mode. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s plenty more that you can do to make any road trip, or for that matter, any trip, be it road, train, or plane, more environmentally friendly.
Let me know what you think and please, leave a comment with any good tips that you have.