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8 Tips for Travel Efficiency That Can Reduce Pollution

 Updated on: September 20th, 2022

A couple sitting on the back of their electric car — waiting to pack their travel items and luggage while it charges.
A couple sitting on the back of their electric car — waiting to pack their travel items and luggage while it charges

Traveling is a necessary part of modern life, but it can come with a cost to the environment. Fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel account for 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making them the largest contributor to American GHG emissions.

However, as the world becomes more environmentally conscious and innovations give way to greener practices, there are ways to make your travels more efficient and eco-friendly.

Utilize Carriers

You see them every day, but have you ever thought about how carrier systems can help reduce your environmental impact? When used properly, carriers such as roof racks, motorcycle carriers, bike racks, and hitch cargo carriers help to minimize the number of resources used during travel. In addition, these systems often make it possible to bring more with you while using fewer vehicles, reducing the time and fuel needed for your trip.

Carriers help increase space efficiency. This is because they free up space inside the vehicle that would otherwise be used to store belongings. This allows you to bring more people in the same car, reducing emissions.

Choosing the right carrier for your needs is important. A roof rack may be the best option if you're carrying a lot of gear. A hitch cargo carrier may be better if you take multiple items or travel with a group.

Maximize Available Space

When it comes to efficient travel, space utilization is key. After all, the more you can fit in your vehicle, the fewer trips you'll have to take. This means making the most of the available space in your car, truck, or SUV.

One way to maximize available space is to use storage containers. This can help you keep your belongings organized. There are various storage containers available, so choosing one that will fit your needs is best. A system with compartments may be a good option if you're carrying many small items. Or, if you're moving more oversized items, a strap system may be better.

Minimize Travel Items

One of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact is to minimize the amount of stuff you bring. After all, the more stuff you have, the more resources you'll use. It's important to only bring what you need.

A few tips to help you minimize your travel items include:

  • Choose multipurpose items: For example, bring a single microfiber towel instead of a separate towel and washcloth. This will take up less space and require fewer resources to wash.
  • Send items ahead: Using a carrier that specializes in shipping can often be more efficient than bringing them yourself.
  • Donate or sell items first: This will not only reduce the amount of stuff you have to pack, but it can also help someone in need.

Simple and thoughtful tips like these can go a long way in reducing your environmental impact.

Go In With a Strategy

As with anything in life, it's wise to go into travel with a strategy. This will help you to make the most of your time and resources. Generally, a solid strategy looks like this:

  • You want to get from point A to point B. The most direct route is by car, but you could also take a bus, train, or plane. You decide to take the car because it's the most efficient option for your needs.
  • You map out your route and plan to make stops along the way for food, gas, and bathroom breaks. You also plan to stay overnight at a hotel halfway to your destination.
  • You pack your bags and bring everything you need for the trip without excess accessories.

In addition to a general strategy, it's best to have the most versatile and accessible tools for your trip.

If you're driving, there are a few key items that not only help your passengers but also make your drive more efficient:

  • Curb ramps: These enable you to get in and out of your car without stepping over a curb. They're beneficial if you have passengers with disabilities.
  • Shed ramps: If you need to load or unload anything from your car, a ramp can make the process much easier and reduce trips up and down stairs.
  • Packing cubes: These are a great way to maximize space and keep your belongings organized.
  • Tie-down straps: These are great for securing items in the trunk or backseat, creating space, and preventing things from moving during travel.
  • Portable wheelchair lamps: If you have passengers who use wheelchairs, these lamps can help to light the way and make the trip more comfortable for them.

These items can help you prepare for anything that might arise while making travel more efficient.

Use Bags Instead of Boxes

Boxes are big, bulky, and often take up more space than necessary. They're also not very versatile, as you can only fit so many things into them. Bags, on the other hand, are much more efficient.

Bags offer:

  • More space: When packed correctly, bags can hold more items than boxes. This is because you can often pack them tighter and utilize all available space.
  • Greater versatility: Bags come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one to fit nearly anything. They're also easier to carry and transport than boxes.

Whether moving or packing for a trip, consider using bags instead of boxes.

Use Flexible Padding Options

Padding is vital for protecting your belongings, but it doesn't have to be bulky or difficult to pack. Many flexible padding options can save space and make packing easier.

Some great flexible, multipurpose padding options include:

  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Clothes
  • Towels

With so many options available, there's no need to use store-bought padding.

Pack Items Tightly

The tighter you pack your belongings, the less space they'll take up. This can be especially helpful when you’re packing a car or suitcase.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your belongings are packed tightly without damaging them:

  • Roll your clothes: This will help them take up less space and prevent wrinkles.
  • Pack heavier items on the bottom: This will help to keep lighter items from being crushed.
  • Use ratchet straps: Ratchet straps can help to keep items secure.
  • Use vacuum bags: Vacuum bags are a great way to compress items and save space.

Packing tightly doesn't have to be difficult, and it can make a big difference in efficiency.

Choose Your Transportation Carefully

The mode of transportation you choose can significantly impact your trip's environmental impact. If you're traveling by car, there are a few things you can do to make the process more efficient:

  • Carpool: Riding with others can help to reduce traffic and save gas.
  • Use exterior carriers: If you have extra large items like a motorcycle or bike, utilize folding motorcycle carriers and bike racks. This saves gas and other resources.
  • Tow a trailer: If you're traveling with a sizeable amount of items, consider towing a trailer. Towing keeps your car from being overloaded.

If you're traveling by plane:

  • Pack carry-on items only, if possible.
  • Choose direct flights instead of connecting flights.

No matter your method of travel, there are ways to reduce pollution and your overall carbon footprint.