I was on the road yet again this weekend and judging by my packed plane headed home to Dallas, I’m not the only one. The Dallas Fort Worth Airport is one of the top ten busiest airport in the world so we know many of us in the area are making use of this opportunity to travel from Dallas to anywhere, as the billboards across the city tempt us to. This Sunday, I sat crammed into my airline seat like a sardine thinking about how many of us were making little choices to keep our travels green.
Traveling comes with stress and urgency that makes thinking about your environmental impact the last thing on your mind. But, with a few tips and a tiny amount of preparation you can make your travels for business or pleasure, less stressful, easier on your pocket and better for the environment.
It all starts at home before you leave.
Research the city you are going to. Does it have a public transportation system that can get you to the places you need to go? If so, you can save money and gas by not getting a rental car. If you must get a rental car take this opportunity to try out some of the hybrids on the market. That way you can use less gas on your trip and see how you like the car. Who knows you may find your next vehicle purchase.
Find a place to stay with a kitchen. The less you eat out the better for your wallet, your health and the environment. Make one big trip to the grocery store or better yet find a local farmers market and load up on food to last your entire stay. Find great apartments, houses and condos to rent in every city on VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner) or a similar site. Often times the cost per night is the same or cheaper than a regular hotel room!
Next step is packing.
- Pack light. Wether you are traveling by air or car the less weight equals less energy used to move the vehicle.
- Pack a reusable water bottle but leave it empty if you are traveling by airplane. You can bring an empty water bottle through security and easily fill it up at a fountain inside saving thousands of plastic bottles.
- To stay awake while driving pack a reusable coffee cup. Fill it up at gas stations for less money and no styrofoam or paper.
- Bring your own snacks from home. Pack up some bulk items that can last for days without refrigeration and you can resist the urge to splurge on items on the go.
Eighty nine percent of travel throughout the year is done by personal vehicles. Before you head out on the road check the air pressure in your tires to maximize fuel efficiency. Get an oil change and ensure you have a clean air filter to keep your car running as efficient as possible while on the road.
Will you be hopping on a plane a few times this year? The DART Orange line now runs to DFW airport. Take the train for $2.50 and save on gas and parking. Book a non stop flight if possible as a significant portion of plane’s emissions are from takeoff and landing. Over 35 airlines have a carbon offset program you can invest in as well. As a passenger you can offset your share of a flight’s emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects that generate carbon credits. You can make your flight carbon neutral (sort of)!
Ok now that you’re all packed up and excited to get on the road, take five minutes running around your house. Unplug electronics from the wall including TVs, lamps, wifi modems, everything except for essentials such as your refrigerator. Adjust your thermostat to a temperature just warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing or just cool enough in the summer to keep it dry inside. These small moves will significantly reduce the electricity your home will use while you’re out of town. You will be happy to come home to a lower electric bill.
With a little bit of preparation you can stay one step ahead while traveling, save some money and decrease your impact on the environment. Every little bit counts to keep our environment in mind as you make your way around the world this year.
And now for a bit of pictures from my family visit to Detroit!