Little Guy vs. Flying: Which Leaves a Bigger Carbon Footprint

At home we do our best to be good stewards of the environment. We recycle what we can’t reuse and buy energy saving bulbs to conserve electricity in an effort to lower our carbon footprint. It’s great that we take care to incorporate these practices into our daily routine, but what about when go on vacation? In 2008 the Recreational Vehicles Industry Association (RVIA) commissioned PKF Consulting to compare the total carbon dioxide emissions of an RV vacation versus a traditional vacation (flying, renting a car, hotel,etc.). The results were astounding. Basically, if you want to go green, get a teardrop, and here is why.

In this study, PKF compared the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a family of four vacationing in an RV versus a typical vacation with an airplane, rental car and the whole shebang. The study included four classes of recreational vehicles all of which produced lower carbon emissions than a typical vacation.

In a scenario where a family of four takes a 10 day vacation traveling 683 miles from Minneapolis to Branson a traditional vacation produces 2.61 tons of CO2 emissions.

  • 1.93 tons CO2 – airline

  • 0.19 tons CO2 – rental car

  • 0.49 tons CO2 – hotel

When you fly a plane, rent a car, take advantage of hotel amenities and eat out those things start adding up. A family of four taking the same vacation, but traveling by car and towing a camping trailer produces .80 tons of CO2 and a family driving an SUV and towing a travel trailer produces 1.26 tons of CO2. The report went on to compare several sample trips and in each scenario an RV vacation proved to be the greener option.

What are some ways you stay green when you travel with your Little Guy? Share your tips in the comment section below.

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