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5 Tips to Be a Sustainable Road Tripper

5 Tips to Be a Sustainable Road Tripper

A road trip presents the most authentic way to commune with nature and enjoy the great outdoors. However, given the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions in the US rise every year, the great outdoors may be but a tale told to future generations.

According to one report, passenger cars in the US are the leading contributors to on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

However, such statistics should not make you feel guilty about going on a road trip, especially after the pandemic. Instead, they should encourage you to embrace sustainable road travel, as explained below in this eco-friendly road trip guide.

Go Light on Luggage but Heavy on Passengers

After two years of lockdown, the anticipation of hitting the road may tempt you to carry everything, including stuff you do not need. However, overloaded vehicles have a higher carbon footprint than vehicles with less luggage.

One test conducted to determine how rooftop carriers affect fuel economy showed that an empty SUV rooftop rack negatively impacted fuel economy by 2%.

Overpacking your rooftop rack increases fuel consumption by increasing the car’s drag or resistance, causing the engine to work harder and consume more fuel.

However, you can use a removable car rack, e.g., the land rover defender price, because you can take it down to reduce your car’s drag.

Packing light and renting outdoor gear like bicycles and surfboards at your destination can eliminate the need for a roof rack if the rest of your luggage fits in your vehicle’s trunk.

While maximizing your vehicle’s payload capacity (total amount of weight it can carry safely), for luggage increases your carbon footprint, the opposite is true for passengers.

According to one study, car-sharing and carpooling reduce the total mobility-related vehicle emissions, lowering your carbon footprint by up to one ton annually. Therefore, get a road trip buddy rather than traveling alone to help save the planet.

5 Tips to Be a Sustainable Road Tripper

Avoid Single-use Items, Especially Plastic

Besides exhaust fumes depleting the ozone layer, the other negative road-tripping effect on the ecosystem is the dumping of non-biodegradable single-use items. Such include plastic bottles, straws, plastic cutlery, paper plates, and styrofoam boxes.

According to government statistics, municipal solid waste features more plastic waste than recycling plants can handle. For instance, the plastic waste generated in the US in 2018 was 35 million tons, yet only 3 million tons got recycled.

Consequently, plastics constitute the highest volume in municipal solid waste sites, and such waste degrades into microplastics that encroach the food chain, harming plants, animals, and humans.

However, you can play a part in eco-friendly road travel by substituting single-use items with reusable items for your road trip. Consider packing helpful reusable road trip essentials, including water bottles, mugs, tableware, and cloth napkins.

Moreover, you can shop for food items in bulk and pack them in reusable containers to take advantage of bulk purchase discounts while saving the planet.

Shopping at home helps you avoid making pit stops to buy probably unhealthy snacks packed in plastic packaging. However, you can substitute disposable shopping bags with reusable tote bags and use them while shopping for local produce and souvenirs.

Consider Using a Fuel-efficient Vehicle

Fuel guzzlers do nothing to help save the environment because they consume more gallons per mile than fuel-efficient vehicles. Therefore, consider choosing a sustainable ride over a guzzler, tempting as the guzzler’s bells and whistles may be.

For instance, road trippers typically use SUVs due to the vehicles’ resilience and prowess in tackling poorly-maintained dirt roads. They also have more cargo and passenger cavity rooms, facilitating comfort. However, the most fuel-efficient SUV is still a guzzler compared to sedans.

On the other hand, sedans are smaller and less adapted to open roads but are comfortable and can travel long distances. Therefore, you can compromise on the SUV and travel using a sedan if your travel route does not include rough roads. Alternatively, you can opt for an even more eco-friendly compromise and rent an electric car.

Use Eco-friendly Navigation Systems

Planning your travel itinerary is essential in helping you use maps to establish the shortest route to avoid driving too long a distance per day.

Thankfully, mapping your route is now easier than ever with smart navigation systems and apps that show the most eco-friendly route once you key in to your destination.

The navigation system’s programmers designed it to identify routes with less road traffic density, allowing you to reduce pollution actively.

It also identifies routes with fewer stop signs for the same reason. Moreover, you can identify stops where you can explore the locality on foot, using rented bicycles or public transport, and lower fuel emissions.

Cut Down on Your Home’s Energy Consumption Rate While Away

Electricity may be a clean energy source, but it also has a relatively high carbon footprint. Therefore, turning off appliances while on the road can help lower your greenhouse gas emission.

You can also adjust your AC and refrigerator settings to consume less energy if you travel for a few days. Moreover, use window treatments to prevent the sun’s rays from heating the air in the house, activating the AC.


Hitting the road to explore nature does not have to come at the cost of the planet’s future. Therefore, play your part by adopting the above eco-friendly road travel guidelines to ensure that future generations stand a chance to behold the natural sights and sounds you enjoy while on the road today.

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