This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Rand McNally Road Atlas. To celebrate, we’ve used some of the insight we’ve garnered over decades in the road travel business to create 90 tips—45 of them in the atlas itself and 45 more in this series of four articles. Tips #79–#90 help you go green, which often, in turn, leads to saving some of your hard-earned green. You can find these tips and more in the Travel Tips section of this blog.
#79: Embrace that local culture. Dress like the locals, try their food, and visit their hangouts. Talk to strangers (even though Mom told you not to). Everyone has stories to tell, and many of them are interesting. And most folks love to talk about their home towns, so you’ll probably get lots of local insight on what to see and do, how to best to get around, and how to save money.
#80: Break free of the chains! Supporting local businesses not only gives back to the communities you visit but also guarantees a more authentic travel experience.Hire local guides, search for one-of-a-kind treasures in small shops, and patronize mom-and-pop restaurants or family-run inns.
#81: Consider spending part or all of your vacation volunteering. From counting sea turtles to rebuilding homes to simply helping with small projects at a campground, voluntourism is rewarding. Plus, donating your time means filling your days with positive activity that’s not only free but also puts you in touch with the local community.
#82: Look into free campsites on public lands. Camping is one of the greenest and cheapest ways to travel. It gets even cheaper with stays at the free dry camping spots available at many state parks and national parks and forests.
#83: Everyone should look into staying at certified green hotels. These have recycling programs, conserve water and energy in a variety of ways, use local organic foods, and give back to the community.
#84: Before leaving home, turn down your thermostat and unplug appliances. These draw energy even when not in use. Why spend money at home and out on the road? (We told you going green can be economical.)
#85: Conserve resources where you stay. Keep showers short; turn off lights, appliances, and AC/heat when you leave your room; and reuse towels and sheets. Not only will you conserve resources, you might also save money given that, these days, a lot of hotels charge fees for things like extra towels.
#86: Follow the adage, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Clean up after yourself. Don’t disturb plants or animals, and stay on marked trails. Think twice before picking up any “souvenirs” when hiking. Look but don’t touch coral when diving or snorkeling.
#87: Avoid buying products made of endangered species. Top of this list are coral, tortoise shell, and the feathers of some birds.
#88: Walk or bike through places you visit, or use public transportation if walking and/or biking aren’t practical. You’ll see and discover things in transit you may have missed otherwise.
#89: Picnic. You’ll save money, get in touch with nature, eat more healthfully, and cut down on consuming items with tons of wasteful packaging. What’s not to love?
#90: Take advantage of free hotel breakfasts. Even if you aren’t a morning person, this not only helps you start the day right but it also helps save money on meals. It also means one less time-consuming drive to a breakfast spot and one less energy-consuming stop and cold start of your engine each day.
For additional details and still more green travel tips, see Top 10 Green Road Travel Tips and RVing Gone Green. And, for voluntourism ideas, see National Voluntourism Options for RVers and Voluntourism: An RV Family Affair. Many tips in these last two articles are relevant to all road travelers, not just RVers.