Getting to your destination is where most travelers have the biggest environmental impact. Driving is one of the most common ways of traveling, but it also leaves one of the biggest carbon footprints. Next time you take a trip, minimize your impact on the planet and try these methods:
• Take the smallest car possible. My boyfriend and I traveled to Austin, Texas, last week to visit his family. Instead of taking my more spacious (but slightly gas guzzling) Ford Taurus for the 11-hour drive, we opted for his Mini Cooper, which gets about 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Thankfully, we can fit all our luggage and still ride comfortably in it.
• If your own vehicle is large and not very fuel efficient, consider renting an economy car. Choose a vehicle that is small and fuel efficient but can still comfortably accommodate you and your passengers. Beware of free upgrades. Although it sounds enticing, a free upgrade usually means a bigger car, which will cost you more in gas and counteract the whole point of renting a car in the first place.
• Better yet, rent a hybrid. Most of the major rental companies, such as Hertz and Avis, have a selection of hybrid cars, and Enterprise Rent-a-Car just added 5,000 additional hybrids to 80 rental locations around the country.
Once you’ve reached your destination, rent bicycles or use public transportation to get around. Photo courtesy smcgee.
Once you get there:
• Ditch the car. Make use of public transportation (not including taxis!) to get around your destination. According to the American Public Transportation Association (http://www.apta.com/), public transportation in the United States saves about 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
• If the weather allows, rent a bicycle or walk to restaurants, shopping districts and tourist sights in your destination city.