Eleven ways to have a sustainable road trip

05 June 2020

With international travel currently not an option, why not heed the call of the open road?

We love the feeling of adventure that we get from piling into the car with our closest friends or embarking on a budget-friendly family vacation. There’s just something exciting about being in motion, don’t you think?

Fortunately, this time-honoured tradition doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. We love sharing tips that help people travel the country in a more eco-friendly way, so before you reach for the petrol pump, check out these tips:

Here’s how to practice sustainability on the road.

1. Start with a sustainable vehicle, if you can.

If you’re renting a vehicle for this particular trip, try and find the most eco-conscious option available. Zero-emission electric vehicles can be a great choice if you have access to charging stations. Otherwise, a hybrid vehicle could be your best bet.

If those options aren’t available, compare the mileage of different makes and models. Outdoorsy adventures will probably require the use of a larger, more rugged vehicle with four-wheel drive, but for city-to-city trips, see if you can go for a compact car.

Fortunately, if your choice of vehicle is limited to what you have on hand, there are a few things you can do to improve your fuel efficiency.

2. Outfit your auto for sustainable driving.

Be sure to visit your local auto mechanic for a tune-up before hitting the highway. Have them look for any leaks that could lead to poor fuel economy.

This bit is essential: Make sure your tyre pressure is right on target. Keeping your tyres properly inflated can improve fuel efficiency. According to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, tyres that were underinflated by 10 psi could decrease fuel efficiency for trucks by 4%!

3. Know where you’re headed.

Plan your route well in advance.

We’re not saying you can’t take the scenic route. Please, enjoy every bit of the roadside! However, you should make sure you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost. If you want to take a detour, by all means, go for it. Just make sure you can find your way back to the main road easily so you don’t needlessly waste extra fuel.

4. Let your car do the work, and let it rest.

There are two bad driving habits that can spell disaster for the sustainability rating of your next road trip: idling and not using cruise control.

Make sure to avoid idling as much as you can, tempting as it may be to leave the car running while your passenger pops out for a moment to use the loo. You’ll probably save energy by turning off your engine and starting it up again later.

And cruise control is your friend. Give your foot a break from resting on the pedal, and let your car be in charge for a while.

5. Bring your own bottle.

Water bottle, that is. And take along your own reusable cup for hot beverages, too!

Why? It’s simple. This is a key part of living with less plastic.

You need to stay hydrated out on the highway, and there’s no reason to leave tea behind just because you’re out on the road.

If you don’t bring your own beverage containers, you’ll wind up buying lots of water, coffee and tea in disposable cups and bottles. Instead of generating extra waste, visit the drinking fountain and fill up your own bottle.

Disposable plastic water bottles contribute to waste. Pack your own reusable water bottle to stay sustainable on the road.

6. Bring along some reusable bags.

Nothing looks better than sustainability, so pack a stylish reusable tote to use when you go shopping for snacks or sundries on the road. This will limit the amount of extra waste you generate. Back home, using these bags for regular grocery runs will also help you make sustainable choices for your household.

Add some biodegradable bags to keep track of your rubbish in the car. We’d suggest separating waste from recyclables and compostable items. Just look up where you can compost during your trip

Whatever you do, don’t litter. While that should go without saying, the Keep Australia Beautiful 2018-2019 National Litter Index found that highway litter rose 5.85% from the previous year’s report.

7. Be the solution.

As a matter of fact, all this extra litter makes us think: Why not help solve the problem?

Make every day Clean Up Australia Day. Whether you’re off for a hike or taking a quick pit stop, collecting just a handful of rubbish can help brighten up everybody’s surroundings.

Just be sure to wash your hands afterwards!

8. Eat sustainably and try to keep it plant-based.

We all know how it happens. You’ve been driving for hours, and suddenly hunger kicks in. You can’t pull over fast enough to appease everybody in the car. You’re all just looking for the nearest meal you can find, regardless of what it is. And don’t get us started on how tempting that protein-packed beef jerky looks by the time you reach your third pit stop of the day.

Still, if you can avoid eating animal products on your journey, it will help you stay sustainable on the road. Animal agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, with 10% of the country’s methane coming from cattle and sheep, according to Meat and Livestock Australia and the Department of Agriculture.

Instead, choose delicious plant protein sources and portable fruit and veggie snacks to keep your crew feeling full out on the road.

9. Pack your own snacks.

To keep those cravings at bay, bring your own sustainable snacks with you.

Pack a cooler so you can fill it with fresh and healthy whole foods like organic fruits and vegetables, and compost the cores and peels. You can also make a big batch of nutty, protein-rich trail mix in advance of your trip and stash it in reusable containers.

10. Seek out sustainable lodgings.

While you’re planning your route, make sure to pay careful attention to your lodging options. Try to stay with friends and relatives when you can, decreasing your reliance on disposable amenities like the pre-packaged soap bars found in hotels. When you stay with friends, you’ll also share resources with your hosts, like electricity and home heating.

When that’s not possible, opt for simpler lodgings or energy-efficient hotels. Rugged backpacking is also a very eco-friendly alternative.

11. Go for green destinations.

We know, we know, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

That said, you’re planning on going somewhere, right?

Select a vacation spot that’s not resource intensive. We’d suggest splashing around in a natural lagoon instead of a water park, or any of these other great suggestions.

For sustainable savings, take a look at your super

If you’re like us, sustainability isn’t something you think about just when it’s time to hit the road. Making environmentally sound decisions is a year-round priority. Learn more about how to invest responsibly with LGS so you can make an even bigger impact.

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