What is your favourite way to see the world? Mine is undoubtedly via a road trip. We are about to embark on our first 2 week road trip without our other 2 boys. We have had a smaller trip as a trio, but this one will take us across to Daylesford, Melbourne and back via the Great Ocean Road, over 2 weeks. I have so many memories going way back to being a little girl that revolve around family road trips. With our own children, we have driven across Australia on many occasions. One of our best memories is driving aross the Nullarbor and back again from Adelaide, in just 2 weeks. It was a trip of epic proportions and had some terrible moments, but it is all of the wonderful ones we remember the most. Waking after a difficult night in our van to find the sun climbing out of the flat horizon of the Nullarbor was one of the most magnificent moments of my life.
Road trips are one of the best ways to appreciate places. You spend time looking out at the world and notice all of the landscapes, people and towns along the way. It is also the perfect opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, without the distraction of the rest of the world. Our children have always been fantastic tavellers and we have an array of car games and family activities that make it even more enjoyable. Lots of stops along the way are also key.
But how do you make a road trip more eco friendly? Cars by their very nature are not good for the environment. Travelling often involves being out of your routine, more stops for takeaway food and staying in places that may not offer the composting and recycling options you are used to. Travelling via any mode of transport will have a footprint on the environment. We have developed some tips for reducing this on a roadtrip and being more eco-friendly as you hit the road.
Consider Your Vehicle
This is not always possible if you already have a particular car. If you are renting a car, look for a hybrid or electric vehicle if possible. We have driven a Prius for more than a decade so when we hit the road, we use far less petrol than a conventional car. We have found that we can go at least 500 km or so on just 1 small tank of petrol. We are waiting to be able to afford a fully electric vehicle and for the infrastructure to be available to charge them. This will make for much greener road trips!
Whatever your car, make sure you have had it fully serviced, that the tyres are pumped and everything is running efficiently. This will not only be safer but will help save on fuel and therefore emissions. Sudden acceleration and driving too fast will also burn more fuel so drive safely and enjoy the journey. Filling your car with an extra 10 or 20 kilograms of luggage per passenger can lower the fuel efficiency. Try to pack as lightly as possible. Roof Racks also reduce fuel efficiency whether they are packed or not, so think twice about whether you really need one.
Take Your Water Bottles, Thermos and Tea and Coffee Maker
It is so easy now to throw your keep cups, thermos and tea and coffee makers into the car. We have a variety of cups and have just bought a tea bottle which has an infuser in it so I can use leaf tea on the road. Mr Recycled will bring his glass coffee plunger to brew up a coffee along the way. When we stop at cafes for breaks we always use the ceramic cups, but if we want to take away, will be asking for them to use our keep cups. There are so many options. We boil up the water at the start of each day on the road and take this with us.
Bring Your Picnic Set!
I remember on one trip we forgot to pack our reusable crockery and cutlery so we ended up finding a variety store and buying some rather than use plastic ones. This trip we are packing our picnic set with all the knives, forks, spoons, plates, bowls etc There are lots of options.
Bring the Reusable Bags
Always travel with resuable bags in the car. On a road trip you will probably be shopping for food, so be sure to have bags for the supermarket and anywhere else you might be buying items.
Always say no to plastic straws. If you really must have a straw, grab some reusable ones and take them with you. Be sure to also have a brush to clean them.
Don’t forget the Lunch Wraps and Boxes
We always pack food on the road. A lunch box for each of us at the start of the day, plus snacks. Use a cold pack or esky to store cold foods in the car and bring your food and sandwich wrappers to avoid the need for plastic.
Don’t Leave Your Waste
The sight of overflowing rubbish bins at roadside stops makes my eyes hurt…some people have no cares about tossing their rubbish out along the side of the road. Bring along a container or bag that can store rubbish and recyclable items in your car. Dispose of them at your next overnight accommodation if possible or if you have the space, take the recycling items home. Food waste can be tricky. Try to avoid creating too much food waste and if possible, find a compost bin at your location. If not, try not to worry too much. You are doing as much as possible and it is not worth ruining your holiday because you tossed a banana skin in a bin.
Consider Your Accommodation
If you are able to find green or eco accommodation that is a bonus. There are lots of holiday homes and venues that have environmental certifications and are working to be as sustainable as possible in their operation. This includes water and energy consumption, recycling, materials and finishes, cleaning products and composting. If not, follow the same behaviours you would at home such as turning off lights minimising your water use when at your holiday accommodation and using their recycling bins. In hotels ask for your towels and linen not to be changed every day.
Shop and Eat Locally
Rather than fast food outlets, shop at local markets, fairs, cafes and stores that carry locally grown and made produce. It is one of the joys of travel to experience the food and culture of the places you visit. Many Australian towns and cities have a thriving food culture. Find accommodation where you can prepare some of your own food, to avoid waste.
Take Your Own Personal Care Products
Bring along your eco friendly shampoo and conditioner bottles or bars, your compostable toothbrushes and floss, skin care etc Fill reusable containers for any liquids so they can be used again, rather than buying the travel size disposable ones.
Get Into Nature and Walk!
A roadtrip to anywhere in Australia will involve driving through some countryside. Even if your destination is a city, get out into the local parks and botanic gardens. On trips to country locations, hike in the mountains, or swim in the sea. Walk through forests and appreciate the natural wonders of the places you are discovering. It is good for you and our planet. A road trip is not just about driving! Get out and walk as much as you are able and experience the wonder of this fabulous planet.