11 Eco-Friendly Tips for an Energy-Efficient Road Trip

Eco Friendly Road Trip

Written by -no-name-


One of life’s greatest family adventures is making the trek to a favorite destination.  From sing-a-long songs, to posing next to the world’s largest rocking chair, to playing a round of 21 questions, road trips are  a great and relatively inexpensive summer vacation. However, to reduce your carbon footprint and take care of the nature we all enjoy, make sure you adopt a few green ideas for your journey.

  • Each gallon of gasoline burned creates 20 pounds of GHG.
  • It would take about 3 newly planted trees 10 years of growth to balance an average road trip of 261 miles.
  • For a typical car, an average road trip contributes 28% of the average carbon dioxide emissions in the month (2.3% to its yearly 10,362 pounds of CO2e).

How does your car’s annual mileage contribute to your carbon footprint? Find out with our carbon footprint calculator.

Here are some ways to make the journey safe, fun, and clean.

Your car:

young couple on pick-up truck parked in front of ocGet Your Car Tuned Up: A dirty air filter can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency by 20 percent. Tires that aren’t fully inflated can drop your miles per gallon rate (plus they’re dangerous to drive on). So before you start packing your bags, get your car looked at to save on fuel consumption. A vehicle that is properly maintained will retain its efficiency for years to come.

Renting? Pick an energy efficient car! If you rent a car to go on your trip, choosing a hybrid electric vehicle can reduce your emissions by up to 51%.Independent of the car you choose, go for a rental company, that has a mandate to offset the miles you drive. For example, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, provides such an option at the counter.

You have to drive a small car to get good fuel economy and reduce your carbon footprint.

Fact: Advanced technologies are allowing standard-sized vehicles to be very fuel efficient. In 2015, half of the top 10 most efficient vehicles were mid-sized or large cars and wagons (the list that excludes EVs and PHEVs). Also, idling will cost you about 1 to 2 cents per minute.

How does your car’s annual carbon footprint measure up? Find out with our carbon footprint calculator.

Your load:

Pack Lightly: Weighing down your car with an extra 20 or 30 pounds of luggage makes your vehicle even less fuel efficient. Only pack what you’ll use and remove that forgotten box of stuff stored in the trunk.

Keep luggage off the roof: A rooftop cargo box can reduce fuel efficiency of your car by up to 25%. Avoid putting the bike rack on the roof too. Rooftop racks decrease miles-per-gallon performance even if they are empty, because they interfere with aerodynamics.

 boy and parents in carCarpool: Sometimes taking a bigger car to fit more people may be better than taking 2 or more efficient ones. You can check out the annual carbon footprint of your vehicles with the help of our carbon footprint calculator and then decide which one to leave in the garage. Road trips add a lot to your carbon footprint, so don’t forget to offset your car’s annual carbon emissions to balance its impact!

Your road:

Plan Your Route: Feeling the urge to just jump in the car and go? Resist the temptation. By plotting your route ahead of time, you can find the quickest route and save fuel. This small preparation will minimize your carbon footprint and your stress level.

Idle no more: Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour. Many people believe that idling is better because the engine creates a surge of emissions at ignition, but it’s no longer the case since cars have become more efficient. So, no more excuses to keep your car running.destination

Cruise To Your Destination: Use your car’s cruise control feature as much as possible. By maintaining a steady speed during your time on the highway, your car will use gas more efficiently.

Your food and activities:

As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!  After all, road trips are all about experiencing different ways of life.

Buy local. Your transportation is not the only thing upping your carbon footprint when you travel. Reduce your footprint by eating and buying locally. To do this, check out local farmer’s markets with the USDA’s farmer’s market finder , use Greenease sustainable eating app to find a local restaurant, and talk to residents to find local hidden gems! You will benefit from the local flare and the community you visit will get the monetary benefits.

Pack your own snacks Utilize reusable boxes to pack your own trail mix and healthy, low-carbon foods for the trip. The more you buy on the way – the more likely it is that the package of your snack will end up at a landfill and contribute to climate change. It can be an awesome way to engage kids too.

road trip with backpack relaxing on a green meadow and enjoying sunsGo social without electronics. Every time you use your electronic devices, they consume electricity contribute to your carbon footprint. So, to reduce your impact try leaving your portable devices turned off when possible and don’t forget to unplug electronics before you leave home. Pack some games for the car, explore a town on foot, and talk with others instead of Tweeting your experiences. You can always post the great memories at home after you’ve had a chance to actually make them with your friends and family!

Myth: If a device is off it doesn’t use electricity.

Fact: In the average home nearly 75% of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed by products that are switched off, but plugged in. For example, only 5% of the power drawn by a cell phone charger is used to charge the phone – the rest is wasted when it is left plugged in. Using power strips to turn off TVs and stereos will take 1217 lbs. of CO2e out of your carbon footprint.

What is your carbon footprint? Check out our calculator to find out!

When planning your next trip be sure to check out the TerraPass carbon calculator, here.

Tweet us @Terrapass with your carbon-balanced trip ideas. For more eco-friendly tips and information, visit our website or like us on Facebook. Don’t forget to take a look at our Pinterest boards for other awesome ideas!

Ecology Car





You May Also Like…