Taking a road trip around the United States is a great way to see some of America's best attractions and create tons of lasting memories along the way. However, it can also be an expensive and troublesome process if you haven't done the proper planning and preparation. Plus, no matter how you choose to travel, you'll be responsible for quite a bit of fuel expenditure.
Going from coast to coast in a vehicle will typically involve 2,500 to 3,000 miles of driving, so you're definitely going to be leaving some sort of carbon footprint. To ensure your visit goes smoothly, you'll also need to have some key paperwork in order. In this brief guide, you'll learn some tips that will ensure your road trip around the U.S. is sustainable and enjoyable.
Apply for Your ESTA Permit
Of course, your trip won't be sustained for very long if you wind up being sent home or caught up at airport security. If you plan on being in the U.S. for long enough to leisurely travel across the country, you'll need to have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) permit. You're supposed to submit your application for your ESTA permit at least 72 hours before your scheduled departure.
You can apply online and bring a printed copy of the ESTA approval, so you'll have it in case you need to show it at the airport. If your passport is issued in one of the 38 countries of origin that have been approved for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you may be eligible for an ESTA waiver. You can go to https://www.esta-waiver.co.uk/ to find out if you qualify for this waiver.
Map Out Your Route
Taking a scattered, spur-of-the-moment approach to trip planning may seem exciting, but it not only creates extra hassle; it also hurts the trip's fuel efficiency. Plus, spontaneity isn't always fun. You don't want to be making last-minute decisions when you're supposed to be enjoying your holiday. Take a few hours to sit down and research the top attractions throughout the U.S. and then create your own itinerary.
You could also base your route on one of the favourite cross-country road trip routes in the U.S and add deviations as you see fit. A straight, coast-to-coast dash on I-80 is the fastest route if you really want to go from shore to shore efficiently, but nobody wants to spend their entire trip on the highway. Thus, don't fret too much about how many miles or hours it'll take and focus instead on planning a sustainable travel schedule with plenty of breaks and opportunities for enjoyment mixed in.
Consider an RV Rental
If you're going to be travelling with a group, consider the advantages of renting an RV instead of taking two vehicles. Look for a rental that has built-in solar power for charging your devices in a sustainable manner. If your group is larger than 4-5 people, you could save gas by fitting more people into a single motorhome. Surveys indicate that more than half of all RV users find it easier to recycle and conserve energy when travelling in an RV versus a typical vehicle.
There are even websites that make it easy to book your RV rental in advance online. You can go with a major auto rental provider or use a platform like RVShare to rent directly from RV owners with a wider selection of models and regions of availability.
Practice Eco-Friendly Travel
Try to practice eco-friendly travel as much as possible by limiting waste and taking other environmentally conscious steps. Bring reusable containers and cups to keep from having to run through dozens of paper cups. Most of the waste generated on your trip will be created at meal times, so you could try preparing your own grilled and barbecued foods at state parks and campsites instead of opting for fast food every time.
You can fill a few containers with water to keep from having to buy water bottles. Bring two small bins – one for recycling and the other for conventional trash. Of course, there are plenty of other things you can do to have an eco-friendly trip.
Bonus tip – Bring a Solar Charger
If you're going to be staying at hotels during the night and you have backup batteries, charging your devices may not be such a big deal. However, if you're going to be camping or spending long days on the road without access to a wall outlet, it makes sense to invest in a small solar charging setup. This will not only increase convenience, but it also helps you reduce your carbon footprint by a tiny amount since you won't be drawing power from the grid to charge your devices.
Book Hospitality & Restaurant Reservations in Advance
Finally, booking in advance will help you avoid disappointments and delays that can affect the stability and sustainability of your trip. Plus, you can usually save money by purchasing tickets and reservations ahead of time.
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