Road trips make an excellent choice for travel buffs looking for flexibility, freedom, and cost savings. Besides the basics of slow travel, they offer scenic views and lasting memories.
Not surprisingly, the trend that gained momentum amid the pandemic continues to be popular. According to a Forbes survey, nearly 45% of Americans plan a road trip in 2023. That’s almost half the people itching to hit the road.
Before getting behind the wheel, there’s another factor to consider. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that the annual carbon emissions of a typical passenger vehicle are 4.6 metric tons. The number may vary according to the vehicle’s fuel, economy, and the number of miles covered. A long trip can surely add in a big way.
Fortunately, you can get the best of both worlds by planning a sustainable journey. Here are a few tried-and-tested ways eco-conscious drivers can minimize their environmental impact during a road trip:
Prepare Your Vehicle
Did you know that transport accounts for a quarter of global carbon emissions? Research shows that cars (diesel and petrol in the same order) come just behind flights in this context. It indicates that road trips are not inherently eco-friendly. But preparing your vehicle can make a difference because a well-maintained one uses less fuel.
Fuel efficiency should be a priority when buying a car for this form of travel. You may consider a hybrid or electric vehicle as it emits fewer greenhouse gases. Diesel Power Products notes that the performance and efficiency of a diesel car depend on several parts.
A few modifications in your vehicle can optimize both. Here is a checklist worth investing in:
- Installing a fuel-efficient engine to reduce fuel consumption
- Upgrading your car’s tires to lower the amount of resistance and limit fuel usage
- Replacing the air filter to minimize the pressure on the engine
- Setting up a solar panel on the roof to power lights and devices
Properly maintaining your car’s exhaust and muffler system is another viable step. Mufflers dampen vehicle emissions and engine noise, lowering air and noise pollution. Magnaflow exhaust and mufflers are an ideal example of a mix of quality, power, and sound. Look for signs like increased noise while accelerating your vehicle. It is a sign to get these parts replaced before embarking on your journey.
Plan Your Route
Every kilometer your car covers can add up your carbon footprint. Statistics show that, for a diesel car, the average carbon footprint per kilometer is 171 grams. Petrol vehicles are just a little less, with 170 grams per kilometer. Imagine how much carbon your vehicle may release when traversing thousands of kilometers.
Planning your route efficiently can lower the environmental load of your car. Use GPS apps to find the most efficient route with minimal traffic congestion or unnecessary detours. Driving smoothly, maintaining a consistent speed, and avoiding sudden accelerations and decelerations can improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
Did you know that traveling light offers more than convenience and extra boot space in your vehicle? A vehicle’s carbon footprint depends on its load. A heavier one consumes more fuel and emits more carbon. The last thing you should do is pack tons of stuff you may hardly need on a minimalist cross-country road trip.
Limit your luggage by following a simple packing checklist with only the essentials. Leave anything you may not need or can share with your fellow travelers. You can even avoid loads of food and water supplies. There are plenty of pit stops on American roads, so you will not fall short of occasions to restock.
Adopt Eco-Friendly Driving Habits
Your driving habits can go a long way to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize the environmental impact during a road trip. Cleaning them up can also help with these factors when driving locally, making the effort worthwhile.
You can commit to the following habits when behind the wheel:
- Avoid excessive idling because it contributes to air pollution and wastes fuel
- Use cruise control on highways to stay at a constant speed
- Anticipate stops to avoid sudden braking
- Keep your vehicle in top-notch condition
Avoid Leaving Any Trace
Eco-conscious road travel is also about avoiding leaving any trace on the way. Choose your packaging wisely and avoid plastic and non-biodegradable items in the first place. Dispose of food leftovers and packaging in covered waste bins instead of littering them on the road. As a rule of thumb, you should leave the road in the condition you found it.
When following the no-trace principle, avoid car drainage at random places. Most gas stations have drainage areas, so you should use them while refueling along the way. You may also stop at car wash stations to do the needful.
Road trips can be eco-friendly, provided you follow the right mindset from the outset. Start with a complete maintenance schedule for your vehicle to ensure the best performance and fuel efficiency. You can do your bit for the rest by optimizing your route, traveling light, following eco-friendly driving practices, and leaving no trace. That’s the simple equation for sustainable road trips.