Carbon Offsets/Credits

Published on May 18th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle


Eco-Vacations: When You Must Drive, Drive Efficiently

Eco-vacations are all the rage with trips to the rain forest or stays on organic farms increasing in popularity. Sometimes the only get away is a road trip to a nearby state or town. The most eco-friendly vacation is one spent at home, but not everyone can enjoy a “staycation” and most can’t afford those extravagant “greencations”.  So if you need to hit the road and enjoy some down town this summer, there are some tricks to help make your road trip more eco-sound.

When you must drive, here are some ways to drive efficiently.

packed car

Packed car

Drive Efficiently by Driving the Speed Limit

The posted speed limits aren’t just a suggestion, they’re the law. Furthermore, driving the speed limit is good for the earth. Driving above 70 miles per hour uses up to 25% more fuel.  Lead foot got you down? Use the cruise control if your vehicle has this option or make it a point to check your speed more often. Saving bank at the pump more than makes this simple task worth while. Of course not paying a speeding tickets also sweetens the deal.

{car photo via bradleygee on Flickr}

Think About Aerodynamics

You can increase CO2 emissions up to 20% by adding more items to the outside of your car and by leaving the windows open at higher speeds.  This aerodynamic drag is caused because air is no longer flowing fluently around the car. If you’re bringing bikes, you might want to consider rentals where you’re vacationing. Biking is becoming popular enough that many vacation hot spots offer inexpensive rentals.

Drop the Weight for More Efficiency

Think about the “family truckster” in the movie Vacation, that’s exactly what you should avoid. If you have belongings piled in the trunk and on top of the car than you definitely need to pare it down. You might start with each person’s gear. Make sure you bring the basics and the least amount of clothing. Most hotels have washers and rental until should as well. Toiletries are staples at hotels or you can buy bath essentials when you get to town. When possible, use multi-purpose toiletries. Try a two-in-one shampoo/conditioner and maybe try it as a body wash as well. Think cautiously about what goes in the vehicle. Do you really need it? Will it be used enough to call for its weight on the drive?

Keep on Moving

Stop and go traffic is pure death for eco-driving. Highway driving offers the least harmful effects on CO2 footprints so try to drive during off peak hours. If you’re cruising into Los Angeles at 5:00, be ready for disturbing amounts of stopping.If you can time your trip right though, you might be able to slide in before or after the traffic poses a problem. Also, don’t tailgate. Not only is this practice unsafe, it causes more braking. If you stay far enough behind you might be able to cruise a while longer before having to brake.

airing up tires

Airing up tires

Air Up Those Tires

Fuel Economy reports improvements in gas mileage of up to 3.3% with properly inflated tires. Also, start with tires in good condition. This not only increases safety, it helps promotes better gas mileage and lower CO2 emissions. It extends the life of the tire giving a little more relief to Mother Earth before she accepts another used tire.

{tire photo via Rosa Say on Flickr}

{Source: Fuel Economy}


So Are you headed out on a  road trip this summer? What are your tips for easing up on carbon emissions and gas mileage? 

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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a writer and life coach helping individuals, families, and businesses thrive. She supports small businesses especially in the areas of Green Living, Health, and Wellness. She can be found at and

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