It’s easy to to think that individuals can’t make a difference when it comes to the issue of global warming. How often do we hear reports of governments and large companies making sweeping changes to help reduce their carbon pollution compared to smaller micro schemes? I often question the impact of individuals only to realise that real measurable change will only happen when everybody acts together. It is entirely possible to travel in an environmentally responsible way whereby you save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Here’s a list of ideas and techniques that when applied to your life will save you money and help protect our environment.

Use your own steam!

BicycleProtecting the environment doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive and time consuming. In fact, you can hack your habits to great effect and start making a difference in the morning. You’ll be doing your general fitness and health a favour as well as that of the environment.

1. Where possible, walk: Start with the simplest option first. Don’t drive everywhere, walk those small trips. In stating the obvious, by leaving the car behind and simply walking or riding a bike you are doing both yourself and the environment good. Not only will you save money on fuel and the general upkeep of car but other knock on effects include the improved outdoor air quality and reduction on road congestion.

2. Get on your bike: You’ll not always be able to walk to your destination. Jump on your bike for those trips where you’d normally be jumping into the car without a second thought. You’ll develop your muscles, improve cardiovascular health, reduce congestion and generate zero emissions.

Transport

HybridWe might as well face up to the fact that we live in a car culture, and it won’t change overnight. Fortunately there are a multitude of ways in which you can vastly improve the fuel efficiency of a vehicle so it can drive further on less fuel, emit fewer greenhouse gases and save you some money. Here are a few to get you started.

3. Get ready first, then go: How many times have you jumped into the car and realised your laptop or bag is still inside the house, then left the car idling while you fetch it? Plenty of times, it happens to us all. While you’ll never stop this from happening ever again, you can reduce the emissions by making sure you have everything you need before starting the engine.

4. Put your seatbelt on before starting engine: I read some time ago that on average we waste several hundred pounds / dollars (x2) of fuel by starting the engine and then putting on a seatbelt. Optimise your efficiency and maximise savings by securing your seatbelt first.

5. Improve MPG: Most road users don’t have a clue about how to look after their car never mind improving the Miles Per Gallon it can achieve. That sort of knowledge doesn’t need to remain within the car sub-culture. You can easily improve the MPG on any car by keeping tyres inflated to their manufacturer-specified pressure, employ steady acceleration and drive at a steady speed that requires fewer gear changes.

6. Don’t idle the engine: A modern car is designed to work efficiently as soon as it starts, so you don’t need to start the engine and let it warm up before you drive. Not even on cold winter mornings.

7. Smooth gear changes: shift up a gear when you hit 2500rpm for petrol cars and 2000rpm for diesel cars. Research indicates that a car travelling at 37mph in third gear uses 25 per cent more fuel than it would at the same speed in fifth gear.

8. Turn off air con: A car engine generates enough pollution without having to power an onboard air conditioning unit. It might be hot outside, but if you want to be serious about protecting the environment you’ll just have to keep the air conditioning turned off! Need further impetus? You’ll save money by driving for longer because of improved fuel efficiency.

9. Don’t charge electricals off car battery: It might be convenient, but charging your iPod / mobile / laptop / whatever off the car battery greatly increases fuel consumption. Of course you’ll still indirectly generate emissions when charging electrical gadgets at home, but it is still more efficient than doing so in a car.

10. Drive with windows up: This sounds so trivial, but it has been proven to work. If you keep your windows up your car will be subject to less drag, which improves the aerodynamic profile of the vehicle. Therefore, cars driven with the windows up are proven to achieve much higher MPG.

11. Remove rook racks: If you have roof racks installed on your car, remove them. If you surf / ski / snowboard, stow the boards inside the car. Roof racks increase the car’s weight and reduce aerodynamic efficiency, which increases the amount of fuel burnt to power the car.

12. Service regularly: This one can’t be overstated enough. If you want to make sure that your car performs at peak efficiency then you’ll have to get it serviced on a regular basis. Get the oil checked, swap out the brakes, check the exhaust etc. The idea is that a well-kept car will consume less fuel, pump out fewer greenhouse gases and also last longer, which in the longterm helps the environment and your bank balance.

14. Alternative forms of fuel: Refuel your car with an alternative form of fuel such as biodiesel instead of diesel. It can be quite expensive in the short term but it is possible to refit your vehicle to run on gas, ethanol or used fats and vegetable oils. This tactic is especially good if the fuels are locally produced.

15. Use premium fuel: If it is not possible to change the type of fuel your car can run on to bio, purchase the more expensive but environmentally friendly premium petrols. While these are still produced from oil, they are more efficient and much cleaner.

16. Carpool: Organised carpooling with your co-workers has quite a few advantages. You actively reduce air pollution, increase outdoor air quality by having 1 car on the road instead of 4. Also, carpooling saves you money and everybody can do it – you might even form some new friendships. You can use a variety of tools online to arrange or find carpooling opportunities – especially on Facebook

17. Hybrid Options: Opt for a hybrid hire car on your next holiday. Not only will you be reducing emissions while you drive, but you will be sending a positive message to the car hire industry by your endorsement of the ‘green’ car. Plus, you get to test drive a hybrid and put it through the motions! Make a more substantial commitment and consider a new hybrid vehicle such as the Toyota Prius or get one of the ultra efficient small cars such as Citroen C4.

Public Transport

CarpoolingIt’s widely considered to be the holy grail of environmentalism, but it’s sadly not quite there yet. Governments take big back handers from the car lobbyists, so we shouldn’t expect the world’s public transport networks to get massively better any time. Of course, there are cities around the world where the local government has invested heavily in public transport infrastructure – but you probably don’t live near one. Here are a few ways to maximise the positive environmental impact of what public transport is available to you.

18. Bus: Public transport is rarely as good as it could be, but (where possible) using public bus transport is great way of getting about. Most towns and cities have adequate bus coverage. Furthermore, you won’t get lost just as easy when the driver knows where they’re going!

19. Tram: Many European cities such as Manchester, Dublin, Athens, Rome, Lisbon and Paris have extensive tram networks. In North America there are many cities with tram networks including San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto. Count yourself lucky if you live in one these cities, trams are a great way of getting around.

20. Trains instead of planes: Many haven’t realised this yet but those good old trains emit much less pollution and can carry more passengers than aircraft. Using the train network is a viable option, especially if journeying city-to-city within Europe and places like Japan where the infrastructure is good and the trains are reliable. Also, there’s a saving on hassle because train travel can allow you to use your time to travel instead of standing in a queue at checkin or customs.

21. Subway: The list of cities in the Americas and Europe with mass rapid transport systems (both over and underground) is extensive. In most inner cities it is futile to try and drive anywhere so you might as well use public transport to get around. It just so happens that this is much more green. And it’s good to be green™.

Air Travel

Air TravelIt’s a fact of life that there are some trips where air travel is the only feasible way to get there, without taking up a large chunk of your precious time. However convenient air travel undoubtedly is, you should remember that during your trip hundreds of tons of damaging greenhouse gases are pumped out into the atmosphere. Scientific evidence suggests that the effects of distributing gases at 30,000ft+ are considerable. Here are a few tips to fly as green as possible.

22. Online instead of face to face: There are so many different online meeting solutions that let you chat, video conference, share and edit documents with presenters and delegates. These are so good that you can conduct business from your desk instead of flying. Of course there will be times when you simply must go and meet the person, but if every business could replace some flights with an online meeting things will start looking up for our shared environment.

23. Think about where you are going: Sure, you need a break on the beach. But do you have to fly to Egypt when you can catch a train to somewhere in France or Spain? For our American friends, why not vacation in Florida or North / South Carolina instead of the Caribbean? If you can choose a destination closer to home you might not need to fly at all and take the train instead.

24. Combine work and play: If you just have to attend a meeting somewhere overseas, why not book a few days off after the meeting and stay there for a week or so? That way you get the best of both worlds and you don’t have to fly as much, which will massively reduce your carbon footprint.

25. Carbon offset flights: Many airlines are waking up to carbon offsetting and passing some of the expense on to their passengers. If you are so inclined (and can afford it) you can pay a little extra for your flight and the airline will take your extra money and invest it directly into planting trees. Companies such as Treeflights exist in the UK to do just that, planting trees in Wales and Peru.

26. Travelling to the airport: Most hub and regional airports have good public transport links, which means you can catch the bus or train instead of driving to the airport and adding to your carbon footprint even more.

27. Pack light: Your luggage is weighed at checkin so that the amount of fuel needed for the flight can be calculated. Rudimentary mathematics suggests that when it comes to luggage and emissions, less is more.

28. Air travel ticketing: Simple, choose an electronic ticket rather than a paper ticket and thereby reduce the need for paper to be wasted.

Accommodation

Disposable CameraWhen you are done travelling and you’ve arrived, keep up with your green habits. One of the biggest contributors to global warming is sloppy environmental practices at home, so you need to continue turning off lights and being good to the environment. This is especially important in poorer countries with underdeveloped infrastructure. You should remember that while your hotel has no shortage of water and electricity, the villagers nearby aren’t so fortunate.

29. Hotel: During your hotel stay, try not to waste energy unnecessarily by continuing what you perhaps already practice at home. You can do this by turning off the tv, switching all the lights off and turning the A/C or heat down where you go out. Also, you could opt for short showers and use your own toiletries instead of the small and usually over-packaged small hotel toiletries.

30. Stay green: There are lots of green hotels around the world. Why not stay somewhere that actively promotes the green lifestyle when you’re away?

31. Taking home memories: Avoid disposable cameras and bring your own digital camera. Like any other modern device which takes loads of energy to make and only get used once before being dumped, disposable cameras are rather wasteful.


31 Responses to “Green Travel: 31 Tips to Save Money & Environment”

  1. leland on December 19, 2007 3:44 am

    These are great tips. I think it all boils down to thinking and being thoughtful when we are travelling, and goes for all of this and more.

    Showing respect for the environment is a good thing to do.

  2. l on December 19, 2007 3:49 am

    Disposable cameras are recycled by their respective manufacturers.

  3. Alexey on December 19, 2007 3:54 am

    Very useful tips! Thank you!

  4. Justin on December 19, 2007 4:28 am

    If you have more than a few people (especially children) in a car, having the windows up on a long hot drive isn’t really an option, unless you are all Very stoic (and/or have a tranq gun). At freeway speeds, using the A/C usually consumes less fuel than having the windows down. (link to page which pulls data from Society of Automotive Engineers http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/06/windows_up_or_d_1.php)

  5. Coach Kip on December 19, 2007 6:44 am

    Thanks for the thoughtful article.

    I have found that there is nothing really special about taking care of our environment. We live in it, we might as well take care of it. Simply being conscious of how you use the environment is a big step to being more green.

    Thanks

  6. Megok on December 19, 2007 7:34 am

    6. Don’t idle the engine: A modern car is designed to work efficiently as soon as it starts, so you don’t need to start the engine and let it warm up before you drive. Not even on cold winter mornings.

    I guess you have never driven a car while it is

  7. Sandra on December 19, 2007 8:08 am

    8. Turn off air con.

    10. Drive with the windows up.

    Are you from Iceland? You know people DIE that way.

  8. Tom Boucher on December 19, 2007 8:20 am

    #15 is incorrect for most cars made >1995 or so. They are tuned for 87 octane and if you put premium in it you’re blowing a lot of unused gas out your exhaust pipe.

    Your easiest way for #15 is change oil at least every 5000 miles, and make sure your tuneup schedule is followed. Premium fuel is a waste.

  9. Things Are Good: good news » 31 Tips to Help You Travel Green on December 19, 2007 9:31 am

    [...] Traveling for your daily commute can be damaging to the environement if you drive a car, so why not bike, take transit, or just carpool? Ideas like this can make a world of difference when done en masse. Fortunately someone has gone and made a list of 31 green travel tips to ensure that we do less damage from our travels. [...]

  10. Some Guy on December 19, 2007 10:46 am

    #15 is mostly wrong. It totally depends on the engine in your car. My friends 1985 GTI (22 years old) required premium fuel, but would run on regular. Cars that require it, and don’t have it will retard the spark advance (so they won’t ping on lower octane fuel) and run less efficiently. They will get better MPG with premium. Cars that just need regular, won’t see any difference because their engine isn’t high enough compression to need premium. You’ll just be wasting money.

  11. Jake on December 19, 2007 11:05 am

    If you are looking for additional tips on ways to save energy and reduce your impact on the planet, you can download a free ‘green home checklist’ by visiting: http://www.countrywide-homeequity.com/free-resources.php#

  12. meh on December 19, 2007 11:18 am

    It’s not about turning off air conditioning. Fuel consumption is the same with air conditioning on or off in any sized engine. Why? Serpintine belts. The belt goes to the air compressor and spins it whether it is in use or not. The compressor itself has a magnetic clutch that engages when it is turned on whicch causes the internals to rotate. But regardless the pulley is driven off the serpintine belt and never disingages.
    Having said that it is correct that driving with windows up will streamline thw car and thus lower fuel consumption. Engineers design cars with reduction in drag coefficient in mind. This is done with the windows closed (causing less drag) and fuel economy in mind. (Yes there are other reasons too but for this argument fuel economy is the key).
    Anyway just thought I would share that info. Be comfortable – you’ve already paid for having the air conditioner in the car and in the name of less belts on pulleys you are powering the compressor anyway regardless.

  13. Constance on December 19, 2007 3:57 pm

    Very informative article, thanks a lot.

  14. Tom on December 19, 2007 6:17 pm

    Commenter #12: While you are correct that the mere existence of an AC unit causes constant drag on the engine in every car that is equipped with one, but when the clutch engages and it begins compressing the coolant, there is even more drag placed on the motor.
    Anybody who has ever been driving steadily then turned on the AC to notice a dip in performance has felt that effect. As a result, you must use more fuel to achieve the same performance and to maintain your speed.

    As for the article:
    Charging electronics does not increase the load on your car’s engine. The alternator is a simple generator that produces DC in your vehicle. It does not increase drag on the engine when a greater electrical load is placed on it.

  15. sleepydog on December 19, 2007 10:46 pm

    I’m surprised that checking the tire pressure was not mentioned to improve auto fuel efficiency.
    Here’s a quick list from http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml
    Tire pressure benefit – up to 3%
    Clean Air Filters Benefit – uo to 10%
    Proper Motor Oil benefit – up to 2%
    Tune up benefit – up tp 3%

  16. Turismo sostenible: Consejos para ahorrar dinero y medio ambiente on January 4, 2008 2:03 am

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  18. jean-Claude on January 9, 2008 5:23 am

    I’m surprised that checking the tire pressure was not mentioned to improve auto fuel efficiency.
    Here’s a quick list from http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml
    Tire pressure benefit – up to 3%
    Clean Air Filters Benefit – uo to 10%
    Proper Motor Oil benefit – up to 2%
    Tune up benefit – up tp 3%

  19. Green tips to save money on January 9, 2008 9:58 am

    Good point, tire pressure can affect mpg quite a bit. I always check the tires about once every two weeks.

  20. Green Travel tips | Webxy - Start Somewhere on January 30, 2008 10:56 pm

    [...] I found a pretty good article with 31 tips on how to Save money and the environment by traveling green.   Some of the tips are fairly commonplace but I thought were a few gems that could really be useful.   If you are a geek like me, or have a busy schedule, consider adding some of these to your outlook or google calendars to reminders.   For example, if you have a ski rack add a re-occuring reminder each Spring to remove it since you won’t be using it over the summer months.  Perhaps add a reminder to every three months to change your oil, or check tire pressure.  That way you don’t have to remember.  [...]

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  22. NiraliSherni on March 23, 2008 3:26 am

    Excellent post and very comprehensive and useful list of tips. Just some more info about eco-friendly travel, electric vehicles. Take a look at http://www.zapworld.com who have a whole range of scooters, bikes, cars, trucks. There is something for every requirement!

  23. Andrew on May 13, 2008 5:15 pm

    Love the site. Some of your tips are included in the “Green My Wallet” money saving tips site. Well done!

    http://www.greenmywallet.com

    I’m sure your readers will want to take a look. Cheers!

  24. Sasha on May 20, 2008 5:00 pm

    This is a great article! Additional information on slowing climate change and doing good for the environment (and people’s wallets!) by being aware and mindful about improving a computer’s power delivery and reducing energy consumed when it’s in an inactive state can be found at http://climatesaverscomputing.com/.

  25. Cassie on May 29, 2008 6:07 am

    There is another newer way to save money on Gas and to help cut back on the dangerous carbon and other poisions that cars put into the atmosphere…It’s only been out a year, but has proved itself time and again. It’s called Ultimate ME2 (squared).
    What is it? It’s a gas like substance that you put an ounce of into your gas tank when you fill up your car or truck (reg gas or diesel) It breaks down the gas so it burns more efficiently, and you can use the lower grade gas, and save money there too. After 4 tanks or so are run thru the vehicle, you should start seeing increases in mileage. My car, which is slightly older ’89, went from 26.5 miles to the gallon to 28/33 for city/highway mileage…that’s a fair size increase! You should check out the website, they give you lots of info. and you can order it right there online. They even provide the tests that were done on it by the independent testing facilities. This is the ONLY ONE that acutually cuts back on the ommissions AND increases the gas mileage…so I’m told.

  26. Andrew on November 4, 2008 6:07 pm

    Great blog on how to travel a little greener. At Spheric we all travel a lot for work and we do our best to leave as few tracks as possible. You can see some of the things we do here.

  27. Guillaume on December 14, 2008 9:39 am

    Good list, would be awesome if everyone was able to respect at least half of it!

  28. Jason from Money Theory on December 15, 2008 5:59 pm

    Wow, absolutely wonderful tips!

    A great way to save money while traveling is to stop by a grocery store when you arrive at your destination and pick up breakfast and lunch items that are quick and easy.

    This way you can at least eat breakfast in your room and save on expensive hotel meals. Then you’re even able to splurge on dinner out with all the money you saved during the day!

    Thanks,

    Jason

  29. Traveling Green with Kids | Green & Clean Mom on January 6, 2009 5:01 am

    [...] Geek About.Com [...]

  30. Puerto Morelos: Is there hope? « Save Eco Destinations on January 13, 2009 11:17 am

    [...] GeekAbout.com’ s 31 Tips to Save Money & Environment [...]

  31. Vincent Roberts on March 30, 2009 8:01 am

    Any time you can save money while having fun plus help the planet, it’s a smart way to go.

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About me...
Hi! I am a self-confessed geek with an insatiable appetite for gadgets and travel. Currently I own a MacBook Pro, 30GB iPod video and a big credit card balance.
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