Average carbon rank: 2 out of 5
The car still rules American vacation travel, with 82 percent of us choosing a sedan, wagon, minivan or sport utility vehicle (SUV) to get away, though generally at least one vacation trip per year is made by plane, according to the Travel Industry Association. If you’re going to hop in the car for your summer vacay, you can dramatically reduce environmental impact by sharing your ride with friends and family, research shows.
Carpooling with two other passengers creates a mere 0.05 pounds of carbon emissions per person, per mile – even in an average car getting about 23 miles-per-gallon, according to Sightline Institute. A “vanpool,” with six occupants in total, comes in at less than 0.04 pounds of CO2 per mile, the research group found.
While carpooling carries a slightly heavier environmental footprint than sharing a full bus with fellow travelers, it is still the more eco-friendly pick when compared to air travel or driving alone. In some cases, carpooling can even beat out the train when it comes to carbon emissions.
For a family of four traveling 100 miles or more, carpooling creates fewer carbon emissions per person than traveling by train – even if the gang is sharing an SUV, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
To be sure that carpooling is truly your best environmental bet, enter some information about your trip, such as the distance, number of passengers and type of vehicle, into a carbon calculator. If carpooling comes out on top, use the Department of Energy’s driving efficiency guide to make that footprint even smaller.