Holiday Travel

Traffic Holidays are the most traveled days of the year, and many of us find ourselves stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic when we’d rather be home and having second helpings of the feast. Whether you’re just heading to a friend’s house for dessert or traveling across the country to see your family, here are a few ideas to help you save money and travel efficiently.

Drive defensively: Aggressive driving can lower your highway miles per gallon (MPG) by 33%, and city MPG by 5%. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.

Maintain your vehicle: Performing vehicle maintenance prior to driving, like changing your oil and properly inflating your tires, can also improve the efficiency of your vehicle by 8% or more.

Pack light: Extra weight causes airplane and cars to lose efficiency and use more fuel to travel. Leave the kitchen sink at home.

Offset what you can’t avoid: Inexpensive carbon offsets to help mitigate the impact of your air travel. Calculate your carbon footprint with the Carbon Calculator by Conservation International, and they’ll tell you how much it will cost to offset your travel!

Avoid crowds and high-traffic roadways. Traveling on off-peak days can save you hundreds of dollars at the airport or prevent you from sitting in traffic on congested highways. Need another reason to take more time off? Americans lose a half billion vacation days every year - don't lose your well-earned time off!

Don’t drink and drive. This may not seem like a tip that has anything to do with the environment, but it does! Share cabs with your friends, hire a party bus or nominate a designated driver to take a group to and from the festivities. By acting responsibly and encouraging your fellow travelers to do so, not only will you prevent accidents but you’ll lower your carbon impact by reducing the number of vehicles on the road.


Need carpooling resources? Want to find a ride share group near you? Try!  If you want to learn even more about getting there greener, EarthShare member Union of Concerned Scientists' Green Travel FAQ will help.

If you have your own great ideas for keeping making holiday travel eco-friendly, we want to hear from you! Comment below or email us at to share.

Go back to the Holiday Green Guide main page



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Aaron Huertas

These are great tips for when you're traveling. We can also dramatically reduce our carbon footprint by picking greener modes of travel for our vacations. The Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed vacation travel options and found some pretty surprising results, including instances in which flying is a better choice than driving.

Poorly planned vacation travel can emit just as much carbon as a year's worth of commuting. There's lots of opportunities here to reduce emissions.

The report covers auto, train, bus and air travel for groups up to 4:

-Aaron Huertas
Union of Concerned Scientists

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