Road Trip Tips from Eco-Friendly Travelers

Guest post by Lola Méndez


2020 has been the summer of road trips- we’ve ditched flights in favor of the wide-open road. As the weather begins to get crisp as we move into fall, the road trips are not slowing down. We’ve gathered 12 road trip tips from some eco-friendly travel influencers. Be sure to consult their sage advice before you pack up the trunk for your next adventure.

Consider an eco-friendly vehicle

“Driving an eco-friendly vehicle, like a hybrid car, is a more sustainable option for road trips. I've owned a Toyota Prius for over a decade. A hybrid vehicle uses both gas and electricity to operate, so it uses less fuel than a regular vehicle. Plus, it's a smaller car that can travel farther on less gas. There's plenty of space in the hatchback trunk to store all of your road trip essentials.”

— Lauren, Justin + Lauren

Don’t drive without rental insurance

“If you're renting a car, check to see if the credit card you're using to pay for it includes rental insurance. Don't forget to read the policy's fine print. Many travel credit cards include full coverage in the event of car rental damage, collision or theft; however, you usually need to decline all of the rental company's insurance for your card's insurance to cover you.”

— Brianne, A Traveling Life



Make local connections

“Reach out to local bloggers and ask about places that are genuinely off-the-beaten-path. You're likely able to find a blogger with insight for the area. You never know this strategy may bring—a hidden gem, a seasonal event, a safer route, or even a new friendship.”

— Malou, Skip to Malou

Bring a physical map 

“As technology has become our failsafe for every situation, it's easy enough to forget the basics when it comes to planning a road trip. But the number of times I've been caught out by a poor internet connection and slowly loading Google Maps has forced me to rethink my relationship with the oldest road-tripping tool in the box: a paper map. You'll be thankful that you didn't find yourself lost in the backend of nowhere without a clue as to where you are and where you're going.”

— Steph, Worldly Adventurer 

Map out recycling centers on your route for proper trash disposal

“Recycling facilities can differ vastly from place to place. It's easy to accumulate trash during a road trip and you don't want to end up disposing of recyclables improperly just because you can't find the right bin. Map out recycling centers that appear on your route on Google Maps. This is especially important if you're road tripping through national parks or in remote areas.”

—Emily, Wander-Lush



Bring a sustainable travel kit

“Pack a sustainable travel kit with a couple of Tupperware pots, napkins made from old clothes, reusable cutlery, coffee cup, water bottles, plates, and net produce bags for the store. I use the coffee-cup as a container for ice-cream. I love to whip out my cutlery set and napkins when we buy street-food.”

— Cassie, Mexico Cassie

Pack extra essentials

“An easy safety precaution all road trippers should take is packing extra water and blankets in the car. If something goes wrong leaving you stranded through the night, these extra items are keys to keeping your body functioning. Extra water will help you fight dehydration and blankets will aid in the fight against lower temperatures that can lead to hypothermia.”

— Tara, Silly Little Kiwi

Unusual tools that will improve your road trip experience

“As much as I love a good road trip, prolonged periods in the car can leave me achy, antsy, and irritable. My cure has been to bring a tennis ball with me whenever I travel to roll out knots in my muscles and relieve pressure points. It’s hard to stay fresh on a road trip but it’s possible with only a few supplies: tea tree and lavender essential oils, a reusable spray bottle, and water. Fill the bottle halfway with water, then add 10 drops of each oil. Shake and spritz over your face, body, clothes, gear, or whatever else needs a refreshing pick-me-up.”

— Sarah, Suitcase Six 



Opt to dine in at restaurants

“If a restaurant doesn’t offer eco-friendly food packaging for to-go meals, eating at the restaurant will be more sustainable as it reduces food waste, minimizes single-use plastics, and avoids the need for additional plastic containers or bags. Request a mug for your coffee or for your drink to be served without a plastic straw.”

— Cherie, Travel For Change

Drive steadily and in daylight  

“Night driving should be avoided when possible. Wildlife comes out when the sun goes down. Animals don't recognize roads as barriers or threats. Roads also retain heat and can be a spot for animals to sleep after the temperature drops. Combined with your reduced visibility a collision is often inevitable. Before heading on any road trip, inform yourself about what to do if you do hit an animal and whether it needs to be reported. Maintaining a steady speed and avoiding hard braking also helps reduce emissions.”

— Natasha, Life in Miniature Pictures 

Respect the environment no matter where you go

“When taking to the open roads and exploring natural landscapes, always respect the land and leave no trace of your visit. Bring supplies to be able to pack out your trash and leave natural objects as you find them. This is especially crucial with cultural elements, such as petroglyphs, and fragile environments, such as delicate cryptobiotic desert crusts. Wildlife is part of the environment and should be left undisturbed as well.”

— Sam, Alternative Travelers


Respect Indigenous people and lands

“Find out if your route passes through Indigenous land. It's important to be conscious of how your presence has an impact on that community. In the United States, about 30% of the population in the Navajo Nation doesn't have access to running water. Packing enough food so that you don't have to stop in their grocery stores is an easy way to make sure you're not overcrowding limited resources.”

— Kelley, Impact Travel Alliance


Lola Méndez is an Uruguayan-American freelance journalist. She's a full-time globetrotter who travels to develop her own worldview and has explored over 60 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel, she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities. You can follow along on her responsible travel blog, and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn