Travel Free: To/Around Your Destination Tips

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Can I make changes to my car that will help reduce fuel burn?

Drop The Weight

Car racks can interfere with aerodynamics, forcing your car to work harder and burn more fuel. Extra weight in the trunk also generates more fuel burn. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, carrying an extra 100 pounds in your car can add an extra $.03 - $.06 per gallon.

I've heard that speed affects fuel efficiency. Is this true?

Slow Down

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), accelerating and braking gradually can improve gas mileage by up to 33 percent. Staying within 60 miles per hour also helps, since every additional 5 mile per hour of speed can add an extra $0.20 per gallon.

Question: Can I get an eco-friendly cab ride?.

Hail A Hybrid

If you just need a cab to get to and from the airport or train station, there are environmentally friendly options. Here are a few low-emission examples:

  • PlanetTran provides individuals and organization with scheduled car service using hybrids. They mostly serve New England and the San Francisco Bay area. Call 1 -877- ECO-TAXI. or visit Try for Portland.
  • If you need a cab in London, you can get picked up in a Prius by Green Tomato Cars ( or 020 8748 8881).
  • In B.C.,Canada, Yellow Cab in Vancouver (604/681-1111 or has a fleet of hybrid taxis on call, as does Empress Taxi ( or 1-800-808-6881) in Victoria. Just request one for your pick up.
  • In Melbourne, Australia a fleet of pedal-electric cabs ( offer guided tours and pickup service.
  • Taxi companies in other cities like New York, Boston and Calgary have introduced some hybrids into their fleets. Once again, it's up to the customer to ask for one.

If I only need a car a few times a year, are there cheaper options than car rental?

Borrow The Community Car

You don't need to own a car to travel around in the city. provides links to "car sharing" organizations all over Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe. This isn't the same thing as car pooling. With car sharing:

  • You can have the car to yourself when driving, but the car is shared by a network of members. It's generally cheaper than regular car rental since it's run by non-profit cooperatives, insurance and fuel costs are included in the price, and you can rent by the hour as well as by the day.
  • Car pooling is even better since a shared car can replace up to six individual cars. The Sierra Club of Canada reports that each new car pool saves about 2000 litres of gasoline a year.

Most buses run on gas, so are they really an eco-friendly option?

Take The "Hy" Road

The average bus can replace about 40 cars. The Sierra Club of Canada is very precise about the benefits: one person taking public transit produces eight times less carbon dioxide than someone driving their car. Better yet, buses in several cities around the world are going cleaner and greener.

  • Hydrogen buses, which run on water vapours rather than fossil fuels, are already being tested in several cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, Perth and Stuttgart. You'll know if you're boarding one because the front of these buses is identified by the words "Hyfleet" or "Emission Free".
  • Other cities, like New York and Toronto, have chosen another "hy" powered option - a fleet of hybrid buses.

Are some offset providers better than others?

Don't Trade Your Values

Don't waste your money on organizations that support carbon trading schemes. This program sets carbon quotas for companies, sometimes even countries. However, if a company has not reached its quota, it can actually sell the remainder to another organization, thereby allowing someone else to pollute. These schemes don't reduce overall emissions; they simply redistribute them.

Do cruise ships produce less fumes than planes?

Change Course

Cruise ships are sometimes called "floating cities", and just like cities, they produce sewage, solid waste and toxic emissions associated with acid rain and global warming. According to Bluewater Network, people living near ports are at greater risk for developing respiratory illnesses and cancer. Tougher regulations are on the horizon, but it's hard to predict how effective they'll be. The industry is littered with examples of cruise lines that were fined for "circumnavigating" laws governing waste disposal.

If you're determined to travel this way, you should ask about the cruise line's wastewater treatment systems and waste management policy (for example, dumped at sea or disposed of after docking, recycled or not, etc.). Look out for biodiesel vessels in the future. While a biofuel mix (regular fuel and vegetable oil) doesn't eliminate all toxic emissions, it significantly reduces them. Cruise lines operating out of Vancouver have expressed interest in this option and AML Cruises have tested a biodiesel ship in Montreal's Old Port.

What else should I look for in an airline?

Go For Youth

Other factors to consider when choosing an airline include the age of the fleet. Generally speaking, the newer the planes, the more fuel efficient the technology. Several airlines, including KLM and Continental, have purchased planes with blended winglets (wingtips that turn upwards). This new design is said to cut fuel burn, which helps reduce both carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions.

What happens to all the cans and plastic used during a flight?

Request Recycling

Don't be shy to ask if your chosen airline has a recycling program. According to Trash Landings, a 2006 Natural Resources Defense Council Report, airlines in the U.S.A. throw out enough aluminum cans each year to build 58 new Boeing 747s. In 2004 alone, they threw out 9000 tons of plastic. First Choice Airways, JetBlue , Singapore, Virgin and SouthWest Airlines are reported to have recycling programs. Some other airlines that were contacted claimed that their passengers cared more about prices than about environmental policies. Here's the bottom line: it's up to us as customers to voice our concerns.

Does my flight pattern affect how much carbon is produced?
Will planting trees be enough to protect the environment?

Branch Out

Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) so they act as a carbon sink. It is worth remembering, however, that carbon dioxide fumes are produced instantaneously, whereas alternative energy projects take time to implement and forests take even longer to grow. Moreover, forests need to be carefully managed and must survive several generations to make any difference. If you travel often and want to neutralize emissions in your lifetime, you'll need to make other changes as well.

What can I do with unused air miles?

Donate Your Points To Charity

Even if you don't have enough air miles for another trip, you probably have enough to make a charity fly. Many airlines allow you to donate air miles to a good cause.Three examples of "green" miles programs are:

  • Lufthansa: "Miles and More" frequent flyer club members have the option of donating points to Living Lakes, an international network that aims to preserve lakes, biotopes and drinking water reservoirs for future generations;
  • Continental: "One Pass Miles," in any increment, can be donated to Wheels for Humanity , an organization that refurbishes used wheel chairs and flies them to parts of the world where they're most needed. Another option is donating to AmeriCares , a humanitarian organization that provides medical aid to those devastated by natural or man-made disasters;
  • America West: Donations made through Miles of Hope (in increments of 5,000 miles) are used to transport volunteers for disaster relief.
Check with your airline partner and find out where your miles can go. Fly direct whenever possible. Taxiing, take offs and landings release large concentrations of carbon and nitrogen oxide.

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Linda Handiak
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