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It is Road Trip Season. Across the US, summer seems to be the time to head out on the road, travel more, and throw caution to the wind. Often we don’t think about traveling in an environmentally friendly way. As busy moms, we know it’s getting everything packed, keeping the kiddos entertained and fed, and getting to our destination in one piece. However, with a little bit of planning, we can take an eco-friendly road trip. Bonus: a green road trip often saves us cash. Use these easy tips and tricks for an eco-friendly road trip.
Eco-Friendly Car Tricks
You don’t need to have an electric vehicle to have an eco-friendly road trip. Doing a few things before and during your trip will not only help the environment, it will save you money as well.
- Check Tire Pressure – Be sure your tires are properly inflated before you head out. Use a tire pressure gauge first thing in the morning, before it heats up and before the rubber meets the road. When you have the correct tire pressure, you actually save gas. Saving gas help save the environment, but better yet, saves you money!
- Change the Air Filter – When’s the last time you had the air filter changed on your car? Changing this before a long road trip ensures that your engine is running more efficiently. An efficient engine is also a money saver.
- Fueling Up – If possible, fuel up in the morning before you head out. I know on a longer trip you’ll have to fuel up midday as well, but fueling up before it gets too hot and fumes escape into the air is the most environmentally friendly time of day.
- Drive the Speed Limit – I know, I know. We all want to go 5 miles over the speed limit (at least). But for every 5 mph, you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas. No, I’m not telling you to drive 50 when the speed limit is 70. But that rate keeps increasing the faster you go. Stick to 70 mph. You’re not saving that much time. Use cruise control when you can to keep your speed consistent and your gas consumption down.
- Air Conditioning – This one falls in my not as easy as it sounds range. Keep the AC low. I live in Florida, so I won’t suggest cracking the windows because it doesn’t help. But it will cool off even if you have it on low and not blasting. It just takes a bit longer. However, you’re using less coolant overall, saving money in the long run.
- Travel at Night – Okay, this one does not fall in my easy tips, but if you can do it, it will save time, money, and the environment. Traveling at night is cooler, thereby using less AC. It also means your fuel efficiency is better. And, if you have little kids, they sleep. Meaning fewer pit stops which is less stop and go.
Environmentally Friendly Travelers
Let’s talk about being environmentally friendly travelers as well. Being eco-conscious doesn’t just extend to the car. These tips are also easy and save money.
- Bring Reusable Water Bottles – And no, I’m not talking about plastic water bottles. Get a quality reusable water bottle for every member of the family. Make each one unique too. Right now I’m loving these Takeya 32 oz insulated water bottles with a spout lid. They come in 7 different colors and qualify for free shipping or store pick up at Target. And a little secret, these are better than that other popular name because they’re easier to hold, come with a closed lid and have a finger loop for carrying.
- Bring Water – You’ll need to refill those refillable water bottles. We bring one of those Igloo 5 Gallon Sports Coolers. If you pack right, you can have it to easily refill your water bottles when you stop at rest stops. This saves us money and saves the environment from unnecessary plastic bottles.
- Pack a Cooler – Packing a cooler with healthy snacks and meals keep more plastic and styrofoam out of landfills, costs less, and is much better for you. Plus, you’ll save time not driving through fast food places. I use reusable plastic bags to pack sandwiches and totes to pack our dry goods.
- Ice – Here’s our trick to packing ice in our cooler. We don’t use those blue ice trays. I’ve had them break and goo gets everywhere. It’s gross and who knows if it’s healthy. We free half gallon milk jugs (reusing plastic) and drink the water as it melts. This is also better than using a bag of ice as usually that water goes to waste.
- Reusable containers or recycling – When packing your cooler, food will stay fresher if you pack in reusable containers. (re)zip at Target makes these great reusable plastic bags. I like these rather than hard containers as they tend to be a bit more flexible in packing items.
- Window Shades – Keep the car cooler with window shades. Typically found in the baby isles, there’s no reason these can’t last beyond babyhood for your kids.
- Pack Light – The more you add to your vehicle the harder it is to maintain optimal fuel efficiency. While it’s hard to admit, the airplanes have baggage weights for a reason. The same goes for your car. The heavier it is, the lower the fuel economy. Especially if you’re staying in a home rental, consider lightening the load and doing laundry a few times.
Pro Tip: Need Baby Gear? Don’t pack it, rent it when you get there from BabyQuip.
I bet you didn’t think about environmentally friendly entertainment while you’re on the road. There are a few things here we can do to further decrease our carbon footprint.
- Road Trip Binder – I recommend a road trip binder to keep kids entertained while on the road. Go one step further and extend the life of your print outs by putting the paper in plastic sleeves, or laminate them, for multiple uses with dry erase markers.
- Dry Erase Boards – And speaking of dry erase, give the little ones a way to color again and again with a dry erase board. Worried they’ll color all over everything? Use a small chalkboard and chalk instead. This one is magnetic and comes with the alphabet.
- Car games – I am not opposed to electronics in the car. But to be a little more eco-friendly, go for these non-electronic car games and save the electricity required to power the gaming devices.
Yes, you can even do environmentally friendly travel at home even while you’re away.
- Unplug Appliances and Computers – You don’t need the coffee pot draining a small amount of electricity while you’re gone. Unplug non-essential appliances, electronics, and computers while you’re gone.
- Set auto thermostat – Turn up your thermostat (or turn down if it’s winter) and save that cool air conditioning for when you get back. Check with your manufacturer to determine what temperature you should set while you’re away. Use an Auto Thermostat such as a Nest to control remotely too.
- Air Filter – Just like on your car, change the air filter on your AC to run more efficiently while you’re away.
- Put Mail and Paper on Hold – You’ll save the delivery an unnecessary trip.
Do you have any eco-friendly road trip tips? Share them in comments below and I’ll update this post!
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