How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Road Trip

How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Road Trip

Sustainable road trips can be a great way to minimize your carbon footprint without sacrificing your vacation plans. After all, the United Nations estimates that tourism contributes 5% of all energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide. Here’s how to plan an environmentally friendly road trip that’s better for the planet and still leaves room to make plenty of memories. 

Avoid over-packing

The heavier your car, the faster you’ll burn through gas. Challenge yourself to pack as lightly as possible to reduce the overall weight your car has to carry. One rule of thumb is to pack, then review your items and reduce everything by half.

Consider only buying groceries for each leg of the trip. That way you’re not dragging along a week’s worth of food the entire time. Also check if your hotels or campgrounds have coin laundry available so you can pack fewer clothes.

Take reusable containers

60 million plastic water bottles are used a day, and each one that isn’t recycled (which is the vast majority) takes 450 years to decompose. So instead of packing a 24-pack of single-use bottles, bring one reusable bottle to last the entire tripe. It’s less waste, less weight in your car, and less of a burden on your wallet.

While you’re at it, take a couple of reusable tote bags to use in place of plastic grocery bags. No matter where you shop as you’re traveling, you’ll be prepared. Finally, you can also buy food in bulk to avoid too much individual packing. 

mechanic tuning up a car

Get your car tuned up

Your car will perform more efficiently if you get it tuned up before you hit the road. A usual tune-up checks air filters, oil filters, spark plugs, and other areas that keep the engine clean and running properly. It usually costs anywhere between $40 and $150, depending on your location and car.

Get more peace of mind by renting a car with Avail car sharing. Every car is inspected for maintenance and safety before you start your rental. It’s an easy, budget-friendly addition to your eco-friendly road trip.

Switch off your engine instead of idling

Idling your car emits a significant amount of carbon emissions. So make the commitment to turn off your engine in full anytime you’re at a scenic bypass or waiting for your friend to get snacks inside the gas station. Scientists recommend turning off your engine anytime you plan to idle for more than 10 seconds. In reality, you’re not causing any damage to the life of your car and, as a bonus, you’ll save a lot on gas.

gps in car on phone


Plan your route in advance

Planning green road trips is not only fun, it can also reduce the size of your overall carbon footprint. While choosing your route day by day may seem exciting, you can waste a lot of gas driving back and forth. In addition to mapping out your overall trip, also use a smartphone maps app to avoid delays. You’ll save time and avoid idling in traffic, making it a double win for you and the environment. 

Also think ahead when it comes to lodging. By making reservations in advance, you’ll save on hotel prices (or campsites)  and ensure you always have a place to spend the night. 

Include a carbon footprint fee in your budget

There are several organizations that allow you to pay a fee to offset your carbon emissions. Use an online carbon emissions calculator to determine the footprint of your trip. Then donate that amount to a non-profit that pledges to plant trees, rebuild habitats, and help endangered species. It’s a great way to make an active contribution to a cause you care about. Use a website like Charity Navigator to check the reputation of any organization you’re interested in supporting.

Book your rental car with Avail

Ready to start planning your eco-friendly road trip? Make your Avail car sharing reservation today. Not only are rates competitive, you can also drive up to 150 miles per day without paying any extra mileage fees. You can also add a second driver for free so you don’t have to drive beyond your comfort level just to save a few dollars. Borrow with Avail today!