4 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Summer Road Trip

Andrew Murphy - Corvallis, OR

Not that long ago, a “green” summer road trip meant feeling a bit queasy after eating far too many cheese puffs and then traveling for miles on a hot and windy road. Nowadays, a “green” road trip means something entirely different. From using as little electricity as possible and staying in eco-friendly hotels, to traveling in a hybrid car instead of a gas guzzler, there are many ways to transform a summer road trip into one that is both fun for your family and great for the environment.

The following four tips can help your next road trip be as sustainable and Earth-friendly as possible:

Rent a hybrid vehicle

If you normally get around town in a family-friendly but gas guzzling SUV or minivan, consider renting a sub-compact or hybrid vehicle for your trip. As Tourarium notes, there are several makes and models you can lease for your vacation, including the Honda Fit, which is comfy and roomy enough for four adults, or the Toyota Prius. The Prius can run on electricity during parts of the vacation and then switch over to gas whenever needed. As a bonus, renting a fuel-efficient vehicle for your vacation will ensure you have a fairly new, safe and well-maintained car for you and your family to tour around in.

Maintain your own car

If your trip across the country just wouldn’t be the same without your trusty family vehicle, take some time before you hit the road and make sure it’s in tip-top shape. As Smart Traveling Tips notes, a car that is in need of a tune-up or is running on old tires will use up more gas and belch out more exhaust than one that just had a tune up. Make sure your car has enough oil and clean air filters and, if necessary, purchase new tires for your family car. For example, TireBuyer sells a nice selection of tires, including all-season selections from BF Goodrich that can have a positive impact on fuel mileage.

See if you can do without air conditioning

Depending on where you are headed, going without air conditioning will be challenging. But, as Green Seal notes, families might turn this into a game of sorts, seeing how long they can go with the windows open and the A/C off. The less you use the air conditioning, the better your gas mileage will be, which is better for the Earth. Give it a try, especially in the early morning or evening when the sun and heat aren’t as relentless, and keep track of just how much farther you can go between stops for refueling.

When it’s time to sleep, think green

For the ultimate in earth-friendly lodging, your summer road trip should include at least a few nights at a campground. Sleeping under the stars in your hammock without any electronics in sight is an eco-friendly and relaxing way to rest after a long day on the road. If your family balks at the idea of camping, you can always select eco-friendly hotels for your nighttime rest and hot showers that have been Green Seal-certified. GreenSeal.org features a long list of hotels and lodges that are eco-friendly and use sustainable products and practices.