Staying Green On Your Family’s Next Road Trip
Traveling with the family can be tricky. Whether it be deciding on a destination, the clashing of personalities on the drive, or even trouble deciding what to do once the families arrived. Perhaps worst of all though, is the time spent looking for parking. Research regarding the matter has recently indicated that the average American spends 17 hours per year searching for parking. While this is an average, it’s not hard to imagine those families living in some of the more densely populated areas of the United States spending much more time than others looking for parking. All of this time spent searching can really throw off any family’s travel itinerary while simultaneously harming the family vehicle’s fuel economy. This post will focus on ways to reduce the amount of time and gas wasted whilst traveling with the family.
For smaller scale trips, the best and most effective way to save stress on the family vehicle is by opting into public transportation. While this method may save your family’s vehicle from some additional wear and tear, it limits where your family can travel at a reasonable rate. Alternatively, bus tours are also great ways to mitigate the stress on a family vehicle while opening up more travel opportunities. If your family is opposed to both of these travel methods, try to incorporate some of their strengths into the family trip. For example, the strength of bus tours (environmentally speaking) is that each guest is foregoing driving their own vehicle to their destination and reducing the number of vehicles on the road. For your family’s trip, try to minimize the number of cars necessary for travel. Carpool as effectively as possible with consideration for how many people plan on traveling with the family.
After travel considerations have been made, it’s time to think about how to reduce the stress on the family vehicle while on the road. Believe it or not, all of the systems in a vehicle contribute to its overall health and its impact on the environment. Beginning with the air conditioning and heating elements, it’s important to consider the time of year. In the summer months, especially in the warmer states, it may seem like the best idea to crank the air conditioning as high as it can go. This is actually causing immense stress on any vehicle driving at an already higher than average temperature. Opening each window of the vehicle to allow air circulation is much more effective. Inversely, for those cold and harsh winter months, families should avoid immediately blasting the heating unit to max as the car starts up. Allowing the car to heat itself up first before activating the heating unit will save it some stress. Finally, regarding travel speeds, avoid traveling too fast above the post speed limit. Maintaining the speed limit, or just over, has proven to decrease carbon emissions and increase a vehicle’s expected mileage.
Long-term travel deserves some additional consideration as well. For example, as your family embarks on such a long trip, take notice of how often the vehicle is being cycled on and off. Too much cycling of the vehicle can result in unnecessary carbon emissions being released in addition to significant wear on the family vehicle. Now, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t turn the vehicle off when your family arrives to a rest stop for snacks and a bathroom break. You should as it conserves fuel, but you should continue to be mindful of how often this cycling is occurring.
As mentioned previously, parking also plays an important role in not only the travel plans of your family, but your vehicle’s health. In situations where it’s possible, prioritize parking in the first available spots that you see. You won’t always get the prime parking spot right in front of your destination, so searching for one can waste plenty of time and fuel. Whereas parking in the first available spot gives your vehicle some much needed respite and your family some great physical benefits from the walking. While family travel can be tricky, ensuring the health of your family’s vehicle doesn’t have to be. For more information regarding eco-friendly traveling with the family, be sure to check out the infographic accompanying this post.
Author bio: Ian Todd is Director of Automated Parking Systems for Westfalia, a York, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer. Todd has more than 15 years of experience in automated parking systems in both Europe and the Americas, where he has held roles in product development, project management, marketing, and business development and sales.