Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Conscious Shopper Challenge: Travel Sustainably Over Long Distances

Another challenge from The Conscious Shopper.

This is the final challenge in the Travel Sustainably series, and like last week's challenge, it's for Marathon Runners only. This week, I'm challenging you to...


Photo by Bruce Berrien

This is a particularly hard challenge for my family because we take several long roadtrips a year to visit family, and unfortunately for us, the cheapest option (load up the five of us and a week's worth of stuff into our minivan) is also the least sustainable. But if you have a smaller vehicle, are traveling with fewer people, or are single, this challenge might be easier for you than for me.

In 2008, the Union of Concerned Scientists published their Green Travel Report, a guide to traveling sustainably over long distances. Some of the findings surprised me, so I definitely recommend that you take a look at the whole report. But if you're short on time, here are their top five tips.
  • Taking either the bus or the train is almost always the greenest option, especially if you have less than two travelers, are traveling less than 500 miles, or will be traveling in the Northeast.
  • Taking your ginormous SUV or a first class flight is almost always the least green option.
  • If you're traveling alone or with one other person, taking an economy flight is greener than driving, especially for trips longer than 500 miles.
  • If your vehicle's fuel economy stinks, consider renting a car. The improved mileage will save you money on gas, and your car will last longer with less wear and tear. We're considering this option for our next roadtrip.
  • If you must drive, avoid rush hour traffic. You might also consider purchasing a GPS unit that can help you avoid getting stuck in traffic.
The report goes on to provide specific tips for each mode of travel, so definitely be sure to check it out. You might also be interested in my guide to sustainable road trips.

What tips do you have for sustainable trip-taking?

*If you're new to The Conscious Shopper Challenge, check out the full list of challenges and catch up at your own pace.


Daisy said...

Good advice. My son and I were planning a road trip to the Northwest portion of our fair state (Wisconsin), and then we found out that Wisconsin Public Radio is sponsoring a bus trip to the exact place we wanted to go. We called, we're in! The price was reasonable (very), it's a greener option, and we're going to have a great time traveling with other people who like the same things we do.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Daisy - Sounds like a great trip!


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