With increased airport security and new baggage regulations and fees, more now than ever people are opting to drive instead of fly to their vacation destinations. For environmentally conscious people there are a few things to remember before embarking upon a road trip. Taking the time to make your trip as “green” as possible can also save you time, money and energy!
Before even hitting the highway, there are some things to take into consideration. If you are planning to make the trip in your own car, make sure it has been recently serviced and tuned up. Not only can this prevent the horror of a roadside breakdown, but a car in optimum running order can be far less environmentally damaging than one with worn out fuel filters, spark plugs and the like. If you have elected to rent a car instead consider a hybrid vehicle. The backup electric engine will minimize the fuel you burn through, helping eliminate unnecessary green house gasses while keeping money in your pocket instead of at the pump.
Once on the road, many methods of green driving are almost common sense. Driving the speed limit, for example, does more than just keep you safe and prevent unwanted and expensive traffic tickets. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, each 5 mph over 60 mph you drive costs an extra 20 cents per gallon of gas. On a long road trip this can quickly add up to lots of unnecessary money spent on fuel. Additionally, the sudden braking and acceleration of aggressive driving packs a mean punch to your fuel tank costing even more unnecessary cash. The EDF estimates that by laying off the gas pedal and brakes you can save $496 a year in fuel- preventing damage to the bank account while minimizing damage to the ozone. Not to mention, your fellow travelers will probably thank you for your consideration! No one likes a tailgater, after all!
Using a GPS system is another eco-friendly way to make your road trip more enjoyable. Not only will a GPS plot the most direct route to your destination, they will often lead you away from traffic jams. As your car burns more fuel while idling, avoiding stop-and-go traffic saves time, money and headaches while promoting a greener trip. If you do not have a GPS available to you, take the time to look at maps before you venture off into the great unknown. Plan a route in advance, but bring your maps with you for the trip. Also, consider alternate routes before you begin travelling, as there are sometimes unexpected occurrences that lead one off their intended path. Driving around lost for hours is typically more frustrating than it is exciting.
Consider bringing your own food along for the ride in reusable containers. There are several ways in which this practice promotes a greener trip. First of all, it eliminates the need to use a drive-thru. Drive-thru windows often have long lines of hungry travelers… another situation that will leave your engine idling while you wait. They also use disposable containers than create unnecessary waste. By bringing your own food you can stop at your leisure as well, selecting a more scenic and pleasant locale than the highway rest stop if you choose to.
A little bit of pre-trip planning can go a long way in making your road trip greener, cheaper, and even more fun!
Eight Ways to Green Your Road Trip, http://m.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=7910
Plan a Green Road Trip, http://www.doityourself.com/stry/plan-a-green-roadtrip