Smart Transportation for Your Summer Travels

Well, it’s that time of year again. As Memorial Day has come and gone and we’ve officially entered summer, it’s time once again to start making travel plans. Every trip begins with a checklist, and with inconsistent gas prices well over three dollars in most states and a growing awareness of climate change and carbon pollution, one item on more and more people’s checklists is deciding the best way to get there.

As you begin to make your summer travel plans, think about this information when picking your modes of transportation. Hopefully these tips and ideas will help you lower your carbon impact this summer while saving you money and reducing the stress of vacation planning.

Consider driving over flying to your destinations whenever possible.
Already this year we’ve seen airfare prices go up an average of 6 to 10% across the country, and experts are predicting costs will continue to rise through the summer months. According to AAA, expensive airfare will force some travelers out of the air and onto the road this year. While many see flying as a more convenient and time-saving travel method, there are several benefits to driving that make it a hassle-free option. For example, when driving to your destination, you don’t need to budget for things like baggage fees, airport parking and rental cars.

If you’ve decided to drive, think about the type and MPG of the vehicle you’ll be taking.
It’s important to think about the type of vehicle you’ll drive when hitting the road. Do you happen to live in Tennessee, which boasts a well-developed Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure, or near any of the over 2,000 charging stations across the country? More and more hotels are adding EV charging stations to their parking garages as well, offering a hassle-free place to plug-in overnight. Perhaps for your trip you can join the EV revolution and opt to buy or rent one of the several different EVs already available in the U.S. You can lower your carbon footprint even more if you find one of the new solar-charged EV stations.

Even if the distance of your planned trip would make an EV impractical, you can still save money on gas and cut back on emissions by driving a hybrid or simply renting a more fuel-efficient car. Though gas prices may not remain as high as analysts initially feared, a national average of $3.727 per gallon is still enough to make some travelers hesitant about the cost of committing to a long distance journey. Not only would renting a hybrid cut back on your carbon output, but even the additional cost of a rental might still be cheaper than purchasing gas for your normal vehicle with a higher MPG.

The bottom line: do some research on transportation options when making your summer travel plans.
Choose your methods of transportation wisely instead of going for what’s most convenient. Use a website like this one to compare the costs of flying and driving between destinations. As you can see by the photo on the right, this site predicted that a trip from Asheville, NC to Washington, D.C. would cost almost $1,800 less if the individual drove. Furthermore, the traveler’s carbon footprint for driving is 72% smaller than that of flying between cities. In this case, just a few more hours on the road could really make a difference to the environment and to your wallet.

For your trip in particular, if you’re not as concerned about the cost and time then you could look specifically for at a carbon calculator to determine your impact. You can even figure out the best make or model of car to rent or take on your trip by using this website to compare fuel costs between vehicles. By incorporating some of these travel tips into your summer vacation plans, you’ll be well on your way to lowering both your carbon impact and your travel budget this season.

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1 Comment

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Excellent advice Jeannie. Folks hitting the road now can think beyond their pocketbooks but to the larger environment and energy use picture. You’re showing us that we individually can coordinate concerted efforts to change small everyday habits like summer travel for a large effect down the line. One thing I would add is an attention to our infrastructure. For a sustainable today and tomorrow we need repaved aging highways, modernized airports, an effective railway and transit systems. Contribute at and maybe someday these latter two can be part of our summer travel choices.

Comment by Parfait on July 6, 2012 10:15 pm

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