National Geographic Traveler
All travel, All the time

October 2008
On the Road
Food and Drink
Take the Next Step
WorldWise Trivia Quiz

Photo: Chocolate billboard

Test your geography IQ with our interactive quiz.
» Play Now

Jamaica Photo Gallery

Photo: Jamaica

See inviting scenes from this popular island destination.
» Click Here

Mumbai Photo Gallery

Photo: Mumbai

The traditional and trendy meet in this bustling Indian city.
» Click Here

51 Ways to Cut Vacation Costs

Photo: Los Angeles International Airport

Don't get caught in a tourist money trap. Learn how to avoid hidden charges, and get expert money-saving tips.
» Click Here

The Little Book of Travel Wisdom

Photo: plane taking off

Don't leave home without these essential tips, resources, and websites.
» Read More


Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel:

28. Choose On-Time Airlines

"Try to go with an airline that has the best on-time arrival and departure schedule because they are contributing less to congestion," says The Green Book co-author Thomas Kostigen. "They aren't sitting on the tarmac burning all that fuel. Of course, a lot of what causes delays is beyond the airlines' control, but why not go with the on-time carriers and help protect the environment?"

Check the on-time performance on U.S. airlines on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics website,

29. Fly Nonstop

Jets produce an average of almost .4 tons of CO2 per passenger per flight, and burn the most fuel at takeoff. Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associate with flying by choosing non-stop flights whenever possible.

"You can save money and even more emissions by flying coach, where there's room for more passengers per square foot than in first or business class," says Wendy E. Brawer, founder and director of Green Map System.

30. Consider an Eco-Friendly Auto Club

Traditional auto clubs offer maps, guidebooks, and towing, but Portland, Oregon-based Better World Club adds eco-friendly features into its membership benefit mix such as discounts on auto maintenance, hybrid car rentals, and bicycle roadside assistance.

In addition, Better World Club donates one percent of revenue to environmental clean-up and advocacy. This commitment includes offsetting the first 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) of driving of each Better World Club insurance customer.

In 2007, Better World donated $8,000 to its carbon offset partner Live Neutral and more than $2,000 to Portland public schools in support of a control system using carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors to turn down the heat—and thereby conserve energy—when a gym, auditorium, or other large room isn't in use.

The Better World network extends across the United States and Canada with more than 40,000 service vehicles. For membership information, visit

31. Go Car-less

Having a car leads to using a car, even for very short trips. So instead of renting a car or driving your own car, come up with creative, car-less ways to get where you need to go, such as public transportation, hotel shuttles, and biking and walking paths.

"According to the National Household Transportation Survey, more than 40 percent of trips in the urban areas in the United States are two miles or less and 89 percent of these trips are made by car," says Bill Wilkinson of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking. "The next time you travel, take your bike with you or plan to rent one when you get there. I took a week-long bike vacation one fall and met a wonderful person who has been my wife for 25 years."

Before traveling, research the car-less transportation options offered at your destination. Many cities are launching free or inexpensive bike rental and public transportation programs designed to ease traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

For example, in summer 2007, Paris launched the Vélib bike co-op program with 10,600 bikes at 750 stations. Visitors and residents can reserve a bike online or at a station for a small fee, plus security deposit, and drop it off at any station in the city.

The first half hour's bike rental is free; daily, weekly, and yearly passes are available. Plans call for an additional 1,000 bikes and 700 stations. The goal is to have a Vélib station location approximately every 900 feet throughout the city. Currently, Paris has over 230 miles (371 kilometers) of bike lanes.

32. Go Public

Public transportation is inexpensive, generally efficient, and comes in many shapes and sizes around the world. Wherever you are going, plan ahead to see if you can get there—or move around when you arrive—via bus, subway, trolley, light rail, commuter train, streetcar, cable car, water taxi, monorail, tramway, and/or van pool service. Check Google Transit for help in some cities.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, "public transportation produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide, 90 percent less in volatile organic compounds, and about half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide (NOx), per passenger mile, as private vehicles."

33. Share a Car

If you absolutely have to rent a car, look for available shared car options in the city you're visiting. Shared cars are typically ultra-low emission vehicles or fuel-efficient hybrids, which are parked in high-density areas throughout a host city. A membership fee allows drivers to reserve, and then drive, a car for a specific period of time.

Current shared car services in the United States and Canada include Zipcar and independent car companies such as I-GO Car Sharing in Chicago, AutoShare in Toronto, CityCarShare in San Francisco, Cooperative Auto Network in Vancouver, Community Car in Madison, Wisconsin, HourCar in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and PhillyCar Share.

Zipcar members can access cars in any of the company's regions (12 states and the District of Columbia), and in other cities where Zipcar has partnerships with independent car-share organizations.

34. Rent a Hybrid

To meet consumer demand for environmentally friendly transportation options, rental car companies are scrambling to add low-emission, fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles to their menu of options.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the world's largest automobile fleet, offers both Toyota Prius hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles, which have the ability to burn the corn-based ethanol fuel blend E85 as well as unleaded gasoline. Enterprise—and its National and Alamo brands—currently has about 4,500 hybrids in a fleet of approximately 700,0000 vehicles.

Hertz also offers hybrids at the top 50 airports in the United States. The company expects to have more than 3,500 hybrids available for rental by the end of 2008. Avis-Budget has approximately 1,500 hybrids (Toyota Prius and Nissan Altima Hybrid) throughout California. A limited number of hybrids are available at locations in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C., with additional U.S. sites planned.

Typically, renting a hybrid costs $5-10 more per day than other vehicles—a fee you'll easily earn back through your cost savings at the pump. And in some states, renting a hybrid could also save you time. The Federal Hybrid HOV Waiver allows states to open their carpool or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) freeway lanes to dedicated alternative fuel vehicles or hybrids achieving 50 percent or better in-city fuel economy or 25 percent or better in combined city/highway fuel economy compared to a similar gasoline fueled vehicle. Drivers don't need a passenger to experience life in the fast lane.

Since the number of rental hybrids is limited—especially at non-airport locations—book well in advance to ensure your ride is ready when you arrive. Guaranteed hybrid reservations aren't always available, so check the specific policies at each company before booking.

35. Check Your Ride

Doing some very minor, simple, and inexpensive maintenance to your vehicle before embarking on your travels will go a long way toward reducing fuel consumption, increasing gas mileage, and saving both the environment and money.

According to Brian Carr, creator of the Daily Fuel Economy Tip website, replacing a clogged or dirty air filter will increase a vehicle's gas mileage up to ten percent. 

 "At today's gas prices, driving around with a dirty air filter will essentially add 30 cents to each gallon of gasoline that you buy," adds Carr. "On a 1,000-mile [1,609-kilometer] road trip, that could easily add $20 to the cost of fuel."

For more money- and gas-saving driving tips, visit

36. Check Your Tires

Rocks, bits of twig, and other bits of road debris are all things that can lodge in the treads of your tires. Keeping your treads clear of debris will decrease your rolling resistance and increase your miles per gallon.

"Keeping your tires properly inflated is another quick and easy way to maintain your car's fuel efficiency. If all four tires are under inflated, fuel economy will drop 0.4% per pound of under inflation," sys Mitch Rofsky, founder of the Portland, Oregon-based Better World Club, which bills itself as the nation's only  environmentally friendly auto club.

"It is estimated that 5 to 15 percent of fuel consumption is used to overcome rolling resistance for passenger cars," adds Rofsky. "The average passenger vehicle consumes roughly 571 gallons of gas per year. At the current average of $2.79 per gallon, that amounts to $1,593.09 per year. Proper tire maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 57 gallons a year, and save the average driver $159 at the pump."

37. Pack Light

There's no need to pack a month's worth of clothes and supplies if you're going away for just the weekend. Extra clothes, toiletries, food, and so on take up extra space in your car and add extra weight, which will reduce your vehicle's gas mileage.

"As a general rule of thumb, adding 100 pounds to your vehicle will reduce gas mileage by roughly 2 percent," says Brian Carr, creator of the Daily Fuel Economy Tip. "While that may not seem like much, think about it this way—if each driver were able to increase gas mileage by 2 percent, based on America's current daily gasoline consumption of 386 million gallons, we would save nearly three billion gallons of gasoline each year."

One way to reduce excess weight when taking a driving trip is to only pack what you can reasonably store inside your vehicle or trunk. While rooftop carriers free up extra space for passengers, they're also sure to cause your fuel economy to drop significantly, says Carr.

He explains, "Aside from the fact that it is adding weight to your vehicle, the car-top carrier is also increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle. The more aerodynamic your vehicle is the less energy (burned gasoline) is needed to keep it moving forward. By placing a car-top carrier on your vehicle you can expect to see up to a 10 percent decrease in your vehicle's gas mileage."

For additional tips from Carr on how to get the most out of your car's gas mileage, visit

38. Limit Left Turns

It seems like a small thing, but avoiding left turns when driving can really help the environment, and helps prevent accidents.

United Parcel Service (UPS) drivers, who operate the company's land-based package delivery fleet 120,000 vehicles, follow routes designed to avoid left turns across traffic.

The reason? Idling while waiting to turn left burns fuel in the turning vehicle and every other vehicle waiting behind it. All of that idling pumps needless pollution into the air, wastes gas, and decreases efficiency. Besides, left turns are riskier since they lead across a lane or more of oncoming traffic.
Next: Touring

E-mail a Friend

Traveler Subscription Offer
Our Picks

Center for Sustainable Destinations

Learn how to preserve the authenticity of the places you love.

» Click Here

National Geographic Traveler Places of a Lifetime
Our guides lead you to the best in world-class cities with photo galleries, walking tours, and what to know before you go.

» Click Here

The National Geographic Traveler Reader Panel

Are you a real traveler? Someone who cares about authenticity? Who has a point of view about where we should travel—and how? Then tell us what you think and be eligible to win a trip to almost anywhere in the United States.

» Click Here