There’s something undeniably magical about hitting the open road, the wind in your hair, and a world of adventure ahead of you. It only gets better when your kids in the back are just wowing at the sights passing them by, right? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a spontaneous weekend getaway or a planned cross-country trek; road trips offer a sense of freedom that’s hard to beat. 

But what exactly can you do to make this extra special?  Especially if this is your first-ever road trip? Is it possible? Would it even be easy? One of the best and most affordable ways to make your family road trip feel special is by making it eco-friendly! Our travels affect the planet. So it makes sense to be considerate towards it.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make your road trip more eco-friendly without sacrificing any of the fun. So, let’s explore some of the best tips and tricks to green up your next journey!


Why Eco-Friendly Road Trips Matter

Firstly, a road trip is already a step in the right direction compared to flying. Sure, the UK is an island, so it might feel like your options are limited, right? Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

You don’t need to feel trapped by air travel. As you might already known, air travel is one of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions, with planes releasing a considerable amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.

On the other hand, road trips offer a more sustainable alternative, especially if you’re mindful of your driving habits and vehicle choices. Plus, there’s the bonus of taking your car on a ferry and exploring mainland Europe without needing multiple flights; or why not use The Shuttle and take the train to France? But overall, eco-friendly vacations reduce your carbon footprint and support sustainable tourism that protects the beautiful places you love to visit.

Again, there are options, so don’t feel like air travel is the only one. Besides, it’s much cheaper to take your car and travel at your own pace!

Why Second-Hand Cars Can Be a Better Choice

One of the most important pieces of advice when going on a road trip is to make sure your car is in working order. Some people rent a car, but that can be an expensive choice. If you’re looking to save money, it might be best to take your own car. Just make sure to tune it up a few weeks in advance.

But if you think your car is not up to scratch for long-distance travel, by all means, consider other options. You don’t need to buy a brand new car solely for your road trip, but if you have high doubts about your current car it may be wise to look at a few alternatives.

If your trusty old car is on its last legs, consider buying a second-hand vehicle instead of a brand-new one. For example, you just can’t go wrong with a used Audi, and if you buy from a dealer rather than an individual (private seller), you can expect the second-hand car to be in excellent condition. Other than saving money, why go with a used car? Well, you have to keep in mind that the production of new cars has a significant environmental impact, from the extraction of raw materials to the manufacturing process. So, if you’re opting for a used car, you’re giving a perfectly good vehicle a new lease on life and reducing the demand for new car production. There are plenty of EVs and hybrids on the market, which doubles the eco-friendliness (seriously, you can’t do better than that)!

Opt for Eco-Friendly Accommodation

Where you stay can make a big difference to the overall sustainability of your trip. Nowadays, there are plenty of hotels and lodges that boast eco-friendly certifications, such as LEED or Green Key, indicating their commitment to environmental practices.

These establishments often employ energy-saving measures, waste-reduction initiatives, and water conservation efforts. When booking your accommodation, use websites like Booking.com to filter and choose eco-certified hotels. Sometimes, the actual hotel websites will have certifications on their websites, too, or some Sustianabliltiy tab.

Pack Smart and Light

Alright, so this sounds weird … after all, on flights you can’t pack heavy, but why not in a car? Well, packing smart can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your road trip. Bringing reusable items, such as water bottles, coffee cups, and shopping bags, helps cut down on single-use plastics. But is that all?

Well, you should also keep in mind that packing light can improve your car’s fuel efficiency. Just think about it, the heavier the load, the more fuel your vehicle consumes. Only take what you need and opt for multi-functional items to save space and weight.

Plan Your Route and Drive Efficiently

There’s no doubt about it that being spontaneous with your trips can be a lot of fun. But it’s not exactly the best idea, especially when wanting to be sustainable. So, before setting off, take some time to plan your route. You’re better off choosing the most direct and efficient path, which can save you time and fuel and reduce your carbon emissions.

Also, apps like Google Maps and Waze can help you avoid traffic and find the quickest routes. Once on the road, adopt eco-friendly driving habits. Accelerate gently, maintain a steady speed, and avoid idling for long periods. Overall, not only will this reduce your fuel consumption, but it will also make for a smoother and more enjoyable drive.

Respect Nature and Wildlife

As you explore the great outdoors, remember to leave no trace. This means packing out all your rubbish, staying on marked trails, and respecting wildlife. But it shouldn’t stop there, as you need to avoid single-use plastics and opt for biodegradable or reusable items whenever possible.

Choose Eco-Friendly Activities

Road trips vary for people. Sometimes it’s literally just driving and staying in hotels, and for others, it’s mini trips to each location and different activities. When planning activities for your road trip, opt for those that have a low environmental impact. Again, it depends on what time of the year you’re doing this, but hiking, cycling, and kayaking are fantastic ways to explore new areas without contributing to pollution.

Plus, many national parks and nature reserves offer guided eco-tours that educate visitors on local ecosystems and conservation efforts. By choosing activities that respect and protect the environment, you can enjoy your travels while contributing to the preservation of natural habitats.

Embrace Slow Travel

Last but certainly not least, you should consider embracing the concept of slow travel. Instead of trying to cover vast distances in a short time, take it slow and savour each destination. If you’re travelling with your kids, sure, there’s technically a time limit (school holiday and all), but in the summer months, try to take it a bit slower.

Spending more time in fewer places reduces the environmental impact of constant travel. This approach not only lessens your carbon footprint but also allows you to immerse yourself more deeply into the local culture, connect with communities, and experience the true essence of each location.