As the final school bell rings to mark the end of the school year and the real start to summer vacation – thoughts of family holidays at the beach, the mountains, hiking, camping and new adventures, enter our minds and our conversations. But as Climate Mamas and Papas, we also are well aware that traveling can also weigh heavy on our planet and have significant climate impacts. Thought and preparation in advance of our travels can lessen the load, create learning opportunities, and make our vacations more memorable and fun! Our friends from Change My Footprint have shared some great travel tips with us and we are so very pleased to share them with you.
Traveling with the Climate in Mind
By Martijn & Marc, brothers and founders of changemyfootprint.com
With the holiday season upon us, we find ourselves thinking about our next travel destination. But vacations often come with a heavy footprint on our planet…so, can we plan for this? In fact we can! Not only can we travel lighter, there are many things we can do that also help us save money at the same time.
Use e-tickets for everything: Why print your train or flight tickets? No need to waste that paper. Use a digital ticket instead. Most of our phones now have apps to help us store and keep our tickets with us, readily accessible at all times. E-tickets are often cheaper than paper tickets and e-tickets are hard to lose as well!
Driving vacations: Many of us drive to our holiday destinations. Especially on long drives, there is a lot of money and a huge footprint to save. To begin with, before you leave, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Your gas mileage will improve when your tires have to right amount of air in them.
Second, make sure your car is as light as possible. Leave the things you don’t need at home and try to prevent hauling cargo on your roof. The heavier your car is, the harder your engine has to work to keep you going and storing things on your roof increases wind resistance. A large cargo box can reduce your fuel economy by as much as 6% to 17% when driving on the highway.
Third, use the air conditioning sparingly. Your air conditioning is using extra gas and this adds up! Studies show that air conditioning can increase your gas usage by around 10%. If it is hotter inside your car than outside when you start a trip, drive with the windows down for a few minutes to help cool the car before starting the air conditioning.
Fourth, use your cruise control! Especially when driving long distances using your cruise control can save you a lot of money and gas. Your cruise control adjusts the speed of your car by controlling the throttle position. The consistent supply of fuel improves your fuel economy. Studies show your vehicle could get up to 15% better mileage.
Fifth, choose wisely when renting a car. The big rental companies all offer a ‘green’ fleet.Make sure to have a look at all the cars in the ‘green’ car selection. Consider a hybrid or even an all electric model if those are offered and you are traveling in an area where charging stations are easy to access. The car you choose can becomes part of the family lore and vacation stories. While you may pay more for an electric car, in the end it can save you a lot of money because you won’t have to spend money on gas.
We have many more ideas about how to save money and the environment when driving. Find them here.
Planes and Trains: Taking the train has a significantly smaller footprint than taking your own car or an airplane. And public transport gives you and the family plenty of time to check out the landscape as it passes by your window, meet the locals, or to just relax, play some travel games, or do some reading. If you really have to fly, choose an airliner with newer planes. Often, the newest planes in a fleet use less gas and have less emissions than older planes. Want an example? Check out the new Boeing Dreamliner 787.
Rent a bike: Many large cities offer excellent bike lanes and traveling on a bike lets you see and experience so much more of a city! Make sure you also bring a reusable water bottle wherever you go. No need to buy plastic water bottles on the street corner. Many cities offer free and clean drinking water in museums and other tourist hotspots.
Eating: Hungry after your explorations? Choose a restaurant that serves local food and uses local ingredients. Not only will you get to learn more about the place you are visiting, but local food also is often cheaper and usually has a lower carbon footprint because the ingredients didn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate!
Make sure to visit changemyfootprint.com to discover more ideas about how to save money and the environment through your daily life activities. Remember that when we all do something small, we actually all do something very big!
Marc and Martijn, two brothers from The Netherlands, are founders of changemyfootprint.com, a website to help you save money and the environment through your daily life activities.