Hitting the road in a campervan is an experience like no other. You have everything you’ll need under one roof, flexibility that’s unrivalled and a host of gorgeous destinations awaiting your arrival. As travellers, the wonderful places that we visit will have a lasting impact on us. So how do you make sure your impact on them is a positive one? It can seem overwhelming knowing how to travel more mindfully, but the good news is that there are lots of small things we can all do which will have a positive impact. To get started, we’ve put together our top tips to reduce waste on your road trip.
Before you even start your trip, you can make it more sustainable by hiring an electric campervan!
1. Go reusable
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but using reusable items is one of the simplest ways you can reduce waste on your road trip. It’s safe to say most people know this, but it’s ensuring you remember to plan ahead and take the reusable items you’ll need! This includes bringing your own bags, coffee cups, water bottles and Tupperware. Road trips are best enjoyed with plenty of stops to stretch your legs and enjoy a coffee, so by bringing your own cup you’ll be saving on single-use cups along the way - some establishments even offer a discount if you bring your own mug. We love the water bottles from Chillys, which have a unique thermal lining to keep your cold drinks cold, and hot ones hot!
Not forgetting the reusable items that might not seem so obvious - but will come in handy every day! Silicone sandwich bags are great for storing leftover food and they don’t take up much space in the fridge as they can be moulded easily. They can also be used to freeze sauces or chopped up fruit.
2. Embrace slow travel
Slow travel is both a mindset, and a physical means of slowing down! In recent years, the idea of “tick box” travel (trying to see as much as possible) was accelerated with the help of budget airlines and Instagram travel influencers encouraging everyone to see as much of the world as possible. However, this type of travel comes with many negatives. Not only do you not get to experience the heart of a destination and really uncover its hidden gems, but you’re using far more emissions by travelling to another place every other day.
Staying longer in your chosen destination will decrease your fuel consumption and have a brighter impact on your trip. And it doesn’t mean you’re stuck in one place! Hire bikes and enjoy a day trip, or choose a location with a variety of activities in the nearby area. That way you can park up your campervan, but still enjoy an abundance of new things.
In the literal sense? Drive steady, and eliminate the need for constant breaking. Sudden acceleration and hard stops will quite literally burn more fuel, so by cruising along you will not only save money, but it’s better for the environment too.
3. Switch it off
Be mindful of the electricity you’re using in the campervan and when not needed, switch it off. We recommend purchasing a solar-powered charger for your everyday devices, so that you can make the most of any sunny weather. If you’re plugged into the electric grid, it can be tempting to enjoy all the perks of constant access to electricity. It’s important to be mindful that you’re still consuming energy this way. Why not choose a campervan with solar panels? When you park, position your vehicle to make the most of the sunlight so that it’s shining through your main windows. This will heat the vehicle naturally, making it cosier when the sun goes down. Or look into adding solar panels to your campervan.
Did you know that your device is still using energy when it’s not plugged in? That’s right, everything you do in your smartphone uses some kind of infrastructure, and therefore energy, in the wireless world. Do your bit, however small, by switching off your device and embracing a digital detox on your holiday - therefore saving energy. There’s no denying we all need our phones when on the road - online maps, booking apps and even taking our holiday photos - but set aside a couple of days to pop it in the glovebox. Embrace the time away from technology and read a book, go for a hike or simply relax under your awning with a drink. Good for the mind; good for the planet.
4. Pack and travel light
There are many advantages to packing light and being mindful of what you’re bringing. First off, the less weight your campervan is carrying, the less fuel it’s going to burn. Not only will this save you money on your trip, but it’s kinder to the environment. Be conscious of what you’ll be doing while you’re away and pack accordingly. Will you be hiking? Kayaking? Are you going somewhere that’s prone to rain?
When you purchase clothes for camping holidays, be mindful of the quality and materials. Anything that wipes clean easily will save an unnecessary wash, and buying stronger, high quality items will mean you can rough and tumble through as many mountains as you like without ruining them (within reason ;) ). Planning outfits ahead and bringing less clothing will also mean less washing when you return home, again saving more.
It’s also important to shop consciously when you travel. We’ve all been there; you’re leaving in three days and realise you need a new pair of walking shoes. It can be tempting to make purchases “just for the holidays” but try to be conscious about what items you can transition back home too. It’s always a good idea to pay that little bit extra for good quality items that will last well beyond your weekend away.
5. Food Preparation
The perks of travelling in a campervan is that you’ll have a kitchen for all your cooking. Even if it’s a small area with the basics, prepping your meals will help reduce the need for eating out, takeaways, and picking up meals that come with extra packaging. When you purchase ingredients, try to plan a couple of meals around them so you don’t end up wasting anything. It’s also helpful to look into one pot meals that are simple to prepare when you’re on the road. If you have a small fridge, consider space-saving, such as using silicone food bags instead of large Tupperware. When you arrive at your destination, do some research on local markets and try to opt for produce that’s in season - not only will it be fresher but it won’t have travelled as far to reach your plate.
It also helps to pack your own snacks. Everyone gets peckish on a long road trip, so taking along some of your own pre-prepared snacks will reduce the need to stop and make potentially wasteful purchases when the hanger hits. And if you’re planning on heading out for some dinners, choose a local establishment and avoid large chain restaurants, especially any with a buffet. According to research, all-you-can-eat buffets are one of the most wasteful aspects of a holiday; they encourage people to take more than they consume and for health and safety, what's not eaten is usually tossed.
6. Recycle & where possible, compost
Unless you’re a zero-waste pro, you will find yourself needing to use some plastic and cardboard packaging at some stage. If you can’t find any local facilities, it’s a good idea to store this somewhere in the campervan until you get home and can recycle it properly. It’s easy to get lazy when on holiday, but little things like this will make all the difference! Composting your scraps can be a little more challenging, but thanks to sites such as ShareWaste, you can search for local residents who have composting facilities.
Campervans come with ample storage, so make use of it and help the environment.
If you have tips to reduce waste on a road trip, get in touch! Now all that's left is to find your next destination. We recommend visiting one of these campsites in the Forest of Bowland, or taking your motorhome over to Thetford.