7 tips to make motorhome travel greener
Although summer is the most popular season for motorhome travel, fall follows it closely. Indeed, there are many people across the country who enjoy loading up their campers and heading out to watch the foliage change, bask in cooler temperatures and herald the arrival of the fresh fall air.
One of the challenges RV owners face? How to keep their hikes environmentally friendly. After all, traveling in a motorhome comes with a number of environmental challenges. Recreational vehicles consume little gasoline and produce more carbon emissions than flying or just driving a car.
The good news is that by following a few basic tips, it is possible to make your RV trips more environmentally friendly. Here are some green steps to take on your next RV adventure.
Ways to spend a more eco-friendly motorhome vacation
Although motorhome travel can have low environmental impacts, there are several ways you can make your trips more environmentally friendly. We recommend that you follow these tips:
1. Focus on energy efficiency
One of the first things you can do to make your next motorhome trip more sustainable is to take the necessary precautions to optimize fuel efficiency. Start by lightening your load, eliminating all those “just in case” items that you probably never need. Also, be sure to regularly check tire pressure and follow your manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. Each of these things will help your RV run more efficiently.
Another thing you can do to get more miles per gallon is to drive at optimum speed. Camper Report recommends driving at 63 mph or less and never exceeding 65 mph.
2. Prioritize energy efficiency
In addition to increasing your fuel economy, there are a number of ways you can make your RV more fuel efficient. Here are some actions we recommend:
- Switch to LED lights: Switching from your bulbs and light strips to LEDs is relatively easy and affordable for most RVs.
- Use energy efficient devices: From refrigerators to microwaves, there are probably more energy efficient alternatives to the current devices in your RV. Consider trading as many as you can.
- Park strategically: Instead of turning on the air conditioning in hot weather, park in the shade. And when it’s cold, park in direct sunlight rather than turning on your heater.
- Insulation: If you are traveling in late fall and winter, or visiting cold destinations at other times of the year, consider investing in insulation for your RV.
These are just a few small ways to improve the fuel efficiency of your recreational vehicle.
3. Install solar panels on your RV
Another great way to make your RV trip more sustainable is to install solar panels on your vehicle. A good solar installation can harness the sun’s clean, renewable energy, convert it into usable electricity, and provide you with an environmentally friendly way to power devices or charge your devices.
There are a few options for solar panels for RVs, including systems that attach to the roof of your motorhome and those that are portable and can be fitted and removed from the vehicle when needed. There are also rigid and flexible solar panels to choose from depending on whether or not you have a curved roof.
Although solar panels add weight to your trip, the power they produce more than makes up for any additional energy expenditure associated with energy efficiency.
4. Reduce waste
Eco-friendly RV adventurers should also try to reduce waste generated by food and supplies. Here are some tips for reducing waste on the road:
- Buy smart: Reducing waste starts with buying less. Try to buy food and supplies in bulk, and stop at zero waste stores and local farmers’ markets along your route.
- Compost: Keep a kitchen compost bin in the kitchen and empty it in the municipal garbage if possible. If odors become a problem, you can keep a compostable trash bag in your freezer to store leftover food odorless.
- Reuse and recycle: Reuse and reuse waste when you can, and keep an eye out for regulations in the areas you pass through so you know what you can recycle.
- Disposable ditch: Use real cutlery, plates, napkins, cups and other alternatives to single-use plastic items.
5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products
The cleaning products you use during your motorhome trip can have big environmental impacts. Non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products are best for interior surfaces because they allow you to avoid any risk of sending harmful chemicals into surrounding ecosystems. Plus, they’re better for your health, especially when you use them in small, enclosed spaces like an RV.
To clean your septic tank, we recommend enzyme-based cleaners; again, the goal is simply to avoid toxic or man-made chemicals as much as possible.
6. Switch to biodiesel
Something else you can do to make your RV ride more environmentally friendly? Switch to biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a renewable and biodegradable fuel source, typically made from animal fats and vegetable oils. Some of the biodiesel is also made with recycled restaurant grease.
Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative to traditional petroleum products. Making the switch will dramatically reduce your RV’s contributions to air pollution, among other benefits.
There are over 300 biodiesel service stations in the United States and Canada. You can view a complete directory through the US Department of Energy. Note that recreational vehicles that run on conventional diesel are almost always compatible with biodiesel.
7. Adhere to best camping practices
Finally, keep in mind some green tips when setting up your camp.
- Camp in designated campsites: This helps preserve natural vegetation and focus the impact of visitor use.
- Practice responsible dispersed camping: If you are in a pristine area, be sure to research all local regulations regarding scattered camping before you park for the night.
- Follow the No Trace Principles: There are seven Leave No Trace principles: plan and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; properly dispose of waste; leave what you find; minimize the impact of campfires; respect wildlife; pay attention to other visitors. By adhering to these, you can ensure that you are camping as sustainably as possible.
While this article contains a number of ideas for making your RV trips more environmentally friendly, just adopting a few can make a huge difference in terms of environmental impact on the road.