Sustainable Holiday Travel Guide

family driving in their car in winter
  • Nov 12, 2019

The holiday season is approaching, which also means the busiest travel season of the year is upon us. In the coming weeks, millions of Americans will travel by planes and cars, emitting millions of pounds of greenhouse gases into the air. If you are traveling this year, here are some ways you can reduce the environmental impact of your holiday travels:

1. If you’re flying, try to take direct flights. The most fuel is used during takeoff, so fewer takeoffs significantly reduce emissions.

2. Consider traveling by bus or train rather than car or plane to reduce emissions. 

3. Take public transportation within the city or town you’re visiting. Using the subway, buses, or trains available reduces your carbon footprint. You could even travel by bike, scooter, or foot if possible.

4. Check your car’s tire pressure, air filter, and oil levels before hitting the road. All of these things can impact the fuel efficiency of your car.

5. Rent a hybrid, electric, or fuel efficient car if you’re renting a car to cut down on gas.

6. Drive during non-peak times to save time and gas (as well as stress!).

7. Bring reusable water bottles with you to reduce plastic waste. Challenge yourself to never pay for water on your road trip.

8. Hold on to your recyclables until you have access to a recycling bin. Don’t just throw them in the first trashcan you see!

9. Choose eco-friendly lodging if you aren’t staying with your relatives. Look for hotels or rental homes that are LEED certified, use renewable energy, use LED lights, and have recycling options.

10. Pack lightly. The less the plane or car weighs, the less fuel it uses—meaning fewer emissions.

11. Avoid putting a rooftop carrier on your car, which can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency.

12. Try to travel in a smaller car or take one car instead of two. This can significantly reduce the amount of gas used on a long road trip.

13. Use cruise control while driving. It uses gas more efficiently.

14. Study the directions ahead of time so you don’t get lost and waste unnecessary gas.

15. Eat local foods while on the road or at your final destination to reduce the environmental impact of your meal.

16. Pack your own snacks to reduce packaging waste from food bought on the road. Packing food in reusable containers or bringing packaging-free food like fruit is a bonus!

17. Turn your car off when you stop. Car ignition has become more efficient, so idling is no longer more eco-friendly than turning the car off and on.

18. Bring your own coffee to avoid disposable coffee cups.

19. Bring any leftovers you have to eat in the car so they don’t go to waste (and to avoid all the packaging waste from eating food out).

20. Purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the impact of your trip.

21. Unplug your electronics before you leave, such as chargers, hair dryers, blenders, and toasters. You can also turn down the heat in your home a few degrees to save energy. 

22. Don’t speed or accelerate aggressively while driving. This reduces fuel efficiency.

23. Pack a toolbox in your car so you can fix minor issues yourself—without making a roadside assistance vehicle travel long distances to reach you.  

24. Act sustainably if you’re staying in a hotel. For instance, don’t have your sheets and towels washed more than you need. 

25. Spend quality time with your family. Save energy by turning off your electronic devices, or turning the lights off and going outside!

While all of these are great ways to reduce the impact of your trip, the best thing you can do for the environment is to make the switch to clean energy. Wishing you safe and sustainable travels this holiday season!

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