Friday, December 9, 2022

Eco Road Trip? Yes, It’s Possible. Here’s How to Prep.

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If an eco road trip sounds impossible, there’s some good news: it isn’t. These tips will help your road trip prep and keep it sustainable all the way to your destination.

If you’re passionate about sustainable travel, you might think that road trips are out of the question, but actually, it is possible to have a pretty eco-road-based adventure, and there is no denying that traveling by car is a great way to see more of the world.

Why make your road trip sustainable?

The data are clear: travel is a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change. According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. E.P.A., a typical passenger vehicle produces about 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year. Passenger vehicles are the biggest source of emissions, accounting for about 41 percent of all global transportation emissions. Transportation in total is responsible for about 27 percent of U.S. emissions, and about 25 percent of total global emissions.

tesla evs
Courtesy Tesla

And if you’re traveling heavily, your car will burn more fuel, making your road trip’s impact even greater.

Add to that a typical road trip sees the frequent single-use plastic items from fast-food drive-thru restaurants, rest stop vending machines, and gas station markets, which also contribute to our carbon footprint (tire print!).

But making a road trip sustainable is easier than you might think. It just requires a little bit of prep. But every good road trip does.

Navigating sustainably

You will want to ensure that you won’t get hopelessly lost, especially if you decide to leave your vehicle for a nature hike, for example. The great thing about electric cars is that they will have a lot of useful electronic gadgets built in, such as navigational gadgets. Even without cellular or Internet connectivity, today’s smartphones will still be able to receive GPS signals. Unfortunately, the GPS for smartphones is actually less effective than a dedicated GPS device as cell phone companies tend to splice that GPS data with the data from cell towers, which can naturally result in your phone receiving inaccurate location data. Sat navs that work for your car and as a handheld device for hikes and cycling are great options when it comes to finding gadgets for your road trip. This will help you keep on track and reduce your chances of getting significantly lost, and you won’t have to risk wasting your phone battery.

How to road trip prep sustainably

Whether for necessity or pleasure, making your road trip as eco as possible is only going to enhance the experience. These prep tips can help.

Bentley 2023 Flying Spur Hybrid
Bentley 2023 Flying Spur Hybrid | Courtesy

1. Go electric

If you have an electric car, then a sustainable road trip is an easy thing to arrange. You simply need to have the car checked over (and invest in coverage like Cars Protection Plus to ensure you don’t need to worry about any costs should your car need repairs while you are off on your adventure). If you don’t have an electric car, you can now rent one from a number of places. You’ll also want to map out charging stations, which are more common than you might think. This can help you see some sights you might otherwise miss. If electric is out of the question, a hybrid vehicle makes a great choice, too. While it still uses petroleum-based fuel, you’ll reduce your gas needs and require fewer stops.

Courtesy Paravel

2. Pack light

Whether in a conventional vehicle, a hybrid, or an EV, packing light is a smart way to cut down on the amount of fuel or battery use by decreasing weight. The lighter the load in your car, the faster and farther you’ll go. Most people overpack for trips anyway, so it’s a great opportunity to test your Konmari skills and tread lightly.

silicone stasher bag
Courtesy Stasher

3. Bring reusable water bottles, containers, and cutlery

This is essential whether you’re traveling across the country or just across town. But it’s especially necessary on the road as disposable cups and cutlery are the norms. By having your own reusable water bottle and bamboo cutlery, you will be able to get what you need to eat and drink without having to participate in a throwaway culture.

Of course, if you want to be even more sustainable, then preparing your own snacks ahead of time is likely to result in even less waste as many foods on the road come pre-packaged. Your reusable stainless steel or glass containers can carry homemade trail mixes, sandwiches, and vegetable chips to bring along with you. This will be easier if you stay in accommodation that allows you to self-cater, but if you’re serious about sustainability, you can always find a way to prepare food on the go.

Courtesy Four Season Doha

4. Stay at eco-friendly hotels

Your destination is part of your trip and looking for eco-friendly or sustainably-minded hotels, motels, and resorts make for a key part of your road trip. Google recently launched a tool that helps you identify green hotels. And Small Luxury Hotels of the World has a robust “Considerate Collection” of hotel destinations that prioritize sustainable offerings. Other hotel operations are prioritizing sustainability, too, from Hilton to Four Seasons, and more.

electric mercedes-benz van
Image courtesy BMW

5. Eco comfort and camping gadgets

Stiff necks and backs are a common side effect of the humble road trip, especially if you don’t manage to stop regularly to stretch out. Travel pillows are a great way to keep people comfortable, but sometimes you may find that you just won’t be able to make it to your destination before nightfall and have to pull over for some rest wherever you are. At times like this, it’s very useful to have some emergency sleeping arrangements in the form of a car roof tent or a car mattress that can be laid across the back seats or the cargo bed of a pickup. 

A man backpacking in the 1970s
Courtesy Roy Tennant

6. Leave no trace

Wherever you choose to explore, you should aim to leave no trace behind and avoid making any trash. But if you do, be sure to pack it up and take it with you until you can find a place to recycle it. If you hike, stick to the trails and avoid trampling the local flora. And if nature calls, be sure to dig and hole and cover it. Leave things as you found them and the planet will thank you.

7. Health and safety accessories

Many road trips, especially across a country as large as America, result in you having to travel across long, isolated stretches of road, far from civilization. If someone was to sustain a significant injury such as a deep cut or a broken bone or experience an allergic reaction or venomous bite from an insect or snake, you’d want to get medical treatment fast. Handling a snake bite, for example, will require fairly quick action, but the most important step is to get to a medical professional as quickly and as safely as possible. A well-supplied first aid kit is still very important in most situations, and you should include all essentials like plasters and bandages, antiseptic wipes, and useful medicines like epinephrine for allergic reactions. 

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