The transportation industry is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, accounting for 28 percent of the total emissions in the country according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. A huge chunk of those emissions comes from people driving their vehicles, which means that if you’re a big fan of taking road trips, you might be contributing more than your fair share of greenhouse gas emissions. However, this does not mean that it’s time to scrape off-road trips from your list of hobbies — there are many things you can do to make your road trips more eco-friendly without losing any of the fun.

Choose the right car 

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, some cars are far much better than others. If you want to eliminate your carbon footprint, your best option is an electric vehicle (EV). With EVs slowly becoming mainstream and their technology advancing, there are various options that can handle a road trip without requiring charging. For example, Tesla’s long-range model S can drive for more than 300 miles without stopping for a charge, and even if you need charging, the company has made thousands of charging stalls available across the US.

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If a fully electric vehicle is not an option, your next best bet is a hybrid. A hybrid electric vehicle allows you to use both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, helping you lower your carbon footprint. If you’re going with a hybrid, use the electric motor for as long as possible. If your only option is a traditional car with an internal combustion engine, do some research to find the one with the best fuel economy.

Adjust your driving habits

As you hit the road, there are some little adjustments you can make to your driving habits to reduce your carbon footprint. You can start by planning your entire route before setting off. While getting lost in unfamiliar roads is part of the fun of a road trip, it leads to wasted time, miles, and fuel, all of which contribute to more emissions. By planning your route, you can avoid backtracking as well as choose roads where you won’t get stuck in traffic when passing through urban areas. You also want to avoid speeding not only to reduce the chances of an accident but also to reduce the amount of fuel you burn.

Pack lightly 

What you pack matters when it comes to your car’s eco-friendliness. First of all, the heavier the car is, the worse its fuel economy is, so make sure you only pack items you’ll absolutely need such as snacks, sunglasses, a cozy blanket, first aid kit, a change of clothes if you’re taking a multi-day road trip, and a reusable water bottle to refill your water at parks, visitor centers, rest stops instead of buying bottled water. When it comes to electronics, you only need your phone; laptops, tablets, handheld consoles, and Bluetooth speakers are great but they’ll only add weight and consume more energy, not to mention serving as a distraction from the sights you come across on your way.

You don’t have to stop taking road trips entirely to lessen your impact on the environment. Instead, focus on finding ways to be more mindful of the environment by increasing your efficiency and reducing your waste on the road.

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