Where is your cabin fever going to take you this year? If you’re in the midst of preparing for your summer road trip but feeling guilty about the environmental cost of your family’s planned activities, don’t fret. There are plenty of simple ways in which you can green up your next road trip without sacrificing too much. As an added bonus, a green road trip can save you serious money. Read on for some cost-effective tips on how to make this summer’s trip your greenest yet!
Observe the Speed Limit
It may be tough, but every automotive expert out there insists that keeping your speed less than 60 MPH is essential if you want to get the most out of your tank of gas. Fuel efficiency decreases exponentially above this cut-off speed, which increases your carbon footprint and the total cost of your road trip. The extra few minutes that you’ll shave off your trip by driving faster just aren’t worth it.
You’re on vacation, so don’t drive like you’re late to the biggest interview of your life. Aggressive acceleration is a close second to speeding in terms of unnecessary fuel wastage, especially on long-distance road trips during which you’re regularly accelerating to highway speeds from a dead stop. Also, if you have to floor the accelerator when you begin a passing maneuver in order to avoid oncoming traffic, wait for the road to clear next time.
Plan Your Trip
Half the fun of a road trip is the drive itself, but not when you’re lost. Carefully plan your route in advance and use GPS or in-cabin navigation equipment to minimize wrong turns. Getting lost wastes both gas and time, both of which are expensive these days.
It’s nice to sit down for a prepared meal after a long day on the road, but try to avoid eating out as much as possible. The American highway system is chock full of rest areas with full picnic facilities, so stop by a supermarket to get some local organic flavor and eat under the open sky! Restaurants, especially national fast-food chains, have tremendous carbon footprints.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Before your trip, check your car’s oil and tire pressure. Topping off its oil and filling its tires will boost your car’s fuel efficiency by 5 percent or more, making a major difference over an entire road trip.
The greenest car is one that’s packed full of people, not luggage. Bring only what you’re sure you’ll need, avoiding tempting but wasteful extras like a second set of golf clubs, and replace the space you’ll save that way with another passenger if you can. Even if it’s a less fuel-efficient model, one six-passenger car is still greener than two three-passenger cars.
By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can green this summer’s road trip and assuage the guilt you feel about traveling in the first place. As an added bonus, stretching your car’s fuel economy and replacing restaurant meals with picnics will save your family some much-needed cash. By slowing down and making family-friendly stops to enjoy the scenery, you may even enjoy going green!
Photo by Paige Burghardt