It’s not a secret that we love road trips! We have more road trip guides here on the blog, and you can find us writing about our road trips on Instagram as well. But we also care a lot about the environment and we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprints. Here in this blog post, you will find alternatives to driving a car, and also some tips on how to take your road trip in an eco-friendly way.
Why do we love road tripping?
Road trips are very comfortable! You get a car or a camper van and you just explore every hidden corner of the area. You can go off the beaten track without having to wait for your tour group or asking the tour groups permission or having to wait hours for a bus or train, then walking ours until the waterfall or lake you’re looking for. So yes, having a car makes everything so easy, and you can spare a lot of time!
Road tripping in Montenegro, we found this view right next to the highway
Why shouldn’t you drive a car?
Let’s talk about the disadvantages of driving a car. The car industry is one of the most polluting in the world (after the fashion industry and meat production). The car engines are designed to convert the thermal energy of the gasoline in the motor and convert it to kinetic energy. Even if in the calculation the conversion of the elements would give just energy and water, the reality is that due to the impurities of the fuel, the air and the process of conversion itself, there is a lot of wasted energy and extra elements that pollute the air that we breathe.
In low quantities, this wouldn't be a problem, and also we need to consider that the engineers are designing special cars where the engines can get the highest performance and low emissions. But even with that, there are still a lot of cars that don’t adapt to the new regulations or there are companies that are not even applying them.
Fuel consumption is another negative point. The usage of fossil energy is having horrible consequences in the environment, in the economy and even in the life of people who live in countries where the root of all their problems is petrol.
Here are some things to consider before getting a car:
Is there public transport in the country where you want to take a road trip?
Of course, we only get around by car if there is no public transport we can use.
Usually, in Europe, cities have a very developed transportation system that makes the car an unnecessary lux. You can easily get from one point to another by tram, metro or busses in all the European cities. By walking you can find all the little details that you would miss if you were driving a car.
In countries like Montenegro or Iceland, public transport is very limited, so the most practical thing to do is renting a car if you want to spend more time exploring the country.
Also, transport between cities can be easily made by train or bus. Some of the bus companies that we loved in Europe, for example, Regiojet, Eurolines, Flixbus. When you buy the bus ticket, you can pay an extra fee for the CO2 emissions. When you get your ticket, you can pay 10 or 15 euro cents more and this money will be donated to different NGOs.
In the video, you can see a comparison of groups of 200 people moving by car, bus, tram, bike, and walking. Can you see how much the time increases in a car?
Is there a bike or scooter that you can rent?
We know that not all the cities are bike friendly, but when you have the chance to travel to one that is actually eco-friendly, why not to take the chance?
Several bike and scooter renting companies, and apps can be found all around Europe and America for very affordable prices. There is another advantage if you decide to go through cities on a bike, you will make the exercise that is good for you!
Cities like Copenhagen have a great public bike system
Do you want to be adventurous? Hitchhike!
Hitchhiking can be so fun and adventurous in Europe for example! Did you know that there are even hitchhiking competitions? Of course, before you start to hitchhike somewhere, don't forget to check on the internet, how secure is the country, and if it's common to do that there. You can also hitchhike with someone else or with a group of friends so that you feel more secure.
Some of the best places are usually reached by walking.
Have you ever heard about car sharing?
Blablacar is a platform where you can offer free places in your car when you drive from one city to another. Other people can apply through the platform for those free places, and voilá: instead of 1 person, there are 4-5 people in the car. That also spares gas, it's more eco-friendly and all the people can cut off on their travel costs. All that you need to do is create a profile, and you can already offer routes if you have a car, or you can check out if there are drives who can drop you off to your next destination. We are traveling between Vienna and Budapest by Blablacar quite often, but we also took Blablacar in Spain between Madrid and Valencia!
It is very safe and easy to use because the drivers on the platform all have a profile, you can also check the reviews of other people who have traveled with them.
Here you can go to Blablacar website.
Dante posing with our rental car in Montenegro
If there is nothing else to do….
Our road trips in Iceland and in Montenegro were unforgettable experiences. We were super flexible and stopped everywhere we wanted to and stayed there as long as we wanted to, which is definitely the biggest advantage of renting a car.
If you are going to travel between cities where the weather conditions are extreme as in Iceland or Morocco, or if you really want to stop in every town in a country and watch all the beautiful landscapes, having a car can make a huge difference.
But how can you make road trips more eco-friendly? Here we collected some tips and rules that you can follow to reduce your negative impact on the environment.
Our Iceland roadtrip let us found some of the most amazing landscapes
1. Don't go alone, fill the car with 2-3-4-5 people.
2. Always check the car before taking the road. Even if it's a new model, check always the water, gas, breaks, and lights! If the levels of water and gas are proper, then the car is more efficient and it generates fewer emissions.
3. If you rent a car, choose a fuel-efficient model.
4. Turn off things that might use unnecessary energy like the seat heater or the lighter.
5. Remove extra weight from the car, pack light - the more weight you carry, the more fuel the car will use.
6. Check your car to make sure there are no leaks, to ensure that the car is running as efficiently as possible.
7. Check oil and tire pressure: tires that are not filled to the correct pressure can actually cause low performance and in consequence, make the car to use more fuel.
8. Don't use the air conditioning - it leads to higher fuel consumption.
9. Keep your speed at a constant rate and between 40 and 50 mph (or 70 and 80 km/h). Driving too slow or faster than this, or suddenly starting to drive very fast is not efficient and you will use a lot of fuel.
10. Leave no trace! Don't litter when you stop somewhere, not even fruit remains, because it can be also bad for the particular zone where you are driving.
11. Most importantly: offset your carbon footprint after a road trip. Calculate your carbon emissions and donate money to an organization.