5 ways to reduce carbon emissions on your next self-drive holiday

Monday, 17th February 2020

Nichol Callaghan

Alaska road trip

We know nothing quite encapsulates freedom like a road trip. From wild coastlines and beach curves to mountain peaks and rolling countryside, getting behind the wheel allows you to explore a different side to any destination. For those considering a self-drive routes for their next holiday, we asked Mark Barclay from GSF Car Parts to share his tips for cutting down on your carbon footprint on a self-drive trip.

Whether you’re exploring the UK or going abroad for your next trip away, there are a lot of benefits to driving yourself around. You can personalise your journey to visit places you actually want to see along the route your holiday will take you, plot detours if necessary, and have your own home comforts on board without having to worry about luggage allowance. Plus, you’re more likely to get to choose what you want to listen to on the radio!

But if you’re worried about how unfriendly self-drive holidays may be to the environment, there are a few steps you can take to cut down carbon emissions. Below, I’ll take you through some of the best.

Choose destinations and routes carefully

By planning your route in advance, you can avoid adding extra unnecessary mileage to your trip and reduce the amount of pollutants your car emits to get you from A to B. You may also want to make sure you have a satnav handy that has the ability to update you with real-time traffic information. These can help you avoid pesky jams that lead to idle time. If you do get caught in traffic, consider switching off your engine if you think you’ll be stationary for a while.

Avoid driving in busy periods of the day

Similarly, if you want to cut carbon emissions you should travel when you know the roads are going to be quieter to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Try to set off very early to beat the morning rush — you’ll also arrive at your destination with the whole day to spend doing what you like. Alternatively, roads tend to quieten down significantly in the evening after the working day is over, so that’s another good time to drive.

Be conservative with the air conditioning

Switching on the heating or air conditioning can be very tempting, especially during long stuffy car journeys. However, air conditioning systems cause your car’s engine to work even harder, so they are much less fuel efficient than rolling down the window. You could also try switching off the air conditioning once the air in your car cools down, as it will circulate for a while afterwards. You don’t necessarily need it to be constantly on if you want to maintain a pleasant temperature.

Alter your driving style

Not everyone knows that the way they drive can affect how fuel efficient their vehicle is. But, making a few changes to your driving style can make your car go a lot further with less emissions. For example, changing gear slightly earlier means your engine has to work slightly less, so it doesn’t use as much fuel. Driving more smoothly in general without accelerating or braking unnecessarily can make a big difference— especially during long journeys.

Opt for an electric vehicle

If you want to lessen your environmental impact even more, you might want to consider swapping your petrol or diesel car for an electric vehicle (EV). EVs emit less greenhouse gases and air pollutants than others on the road, so you can enjoy your holiday without worrying as much about your carbon footprint. If you’re hiring a vehicle, see if they have any electric cars available. Just remember to factor in charging points when you’re planning your route as you would petrol stations.

The tips in this guide can help you take a more environmentally friendly self-drive holiday this year. By improving the fuel consumption of your vehicle and planning carefully, you can help reduce your carbon emissions. 

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