The 1300 mile trip from Maryland to Texas in a Jeep Wrangler got me thinking. How can we make the trip as environmentally and economically friendly as possible, while still having fun AND not adding too much time or cost to the trip? I started mentally taking notes during my daydream time in the passenger seat and this is what I came up with.
1. Drive economically. This may seem like a no-brainer, but as this is a road trip, it’s probably the most important thing you can do to save money and lessen your environmental impact. This means use cruise control on the flat roads, keep your RPMs low, drive smooth, and keep your tires inflated and your car in good running condition.
2. Pick up your trash (and any you see). Yet again, another no brainer, but so many people seem to forget this! I keep extra grocery/trash bags in the car so it’s organized and the trash has less of a chance to fall out and blow away. It’s also super easy to pick trash up and either throw it out or recycle it if you can. You can always wash your hands or wear gloves if you’re that grossed out by it. But seriously use caution if you’re trying to pick up anything that looks even remotely sharp!
3. Bring a reusable water bottle. Self explanatory – plastic bottles are bad for the environment and cost money at gas stations (fill up a reusable bottle free at fountains and soda machines). You can also bring reusable coffee cups that also give you discounts at the places they’re from! I have one for Starbucks, one for 7-eleven, and one for Sheetz.
4. Use Gas Buddy or a GPS app to find the cheapest gas closest to you. This really adds up on a few thousand mile trip!
5. Shop local and stop at farmer’s markets for food when you can. Many are right off of highways and main roads. Note: it’s good to have cash ready for these, although some places have card readers now.
6. Firewood for camping – buy/collect it wear you burn it! Many people don’t realize this is one of the ways invasive species are spread. You’d be amazed at the amazing micro-ecosystems in trees and branches.
7. Drive and eco-friendly car when you can. I usually drive a Ford Focus, which gets much better mileage than a Wrangler, but as long as you keep your emissions up to date and care for your car you should be fine.
8. Roll down the windows below 40-45mph if you can bear it. This DOES help a bit with mileage and can save some energy and pollution from using your air conditioning and cabin filter.
9. Research and plan routes before you leave. Aim to drive during low traffic days and times, and avoid driving through cities if you can.
10. Seriously…WATCH FOR WILDLIFE! Save an animals life and prevent a damaged car and possible hospital bills. Drive safe!