Planning to head off in your motorhome for a nature-based road trip? Take these eight tips on board to put less pressure on the environment — and your holiday budget
Choose a smaller motorhome
Those looking to hire a motorhome should reconsider upsizing unless absolutely necessary. A more compact motorhome is lighter and therefore burns less fuel. It also uses less power to heat and cool. While this might not be an option if you own your motorhome, there are other ways to reduce your carbon emissions — don't be tempted to overpack, keep your vehicle up to date with servicing, check your tyre pressure and stick to a cruising speed that won't burn through fuel as quickly.
Customise your camper
If you are the proud owner of a motorhome, a few additions can save you big on energy and in turn provide a more budget-friendly break. Invest in a solar panel to harvest the power of the sun rather than relying on the grid — this can be handy for charging batteries or keeping your fridge running. If you're expecting a temperature drop, you might consider insulating the walls and installing double-glazed windows. When it comes to modifying your fit out, look for pieces that are either secondhand or made from renewable materials, for example, reclaimed timber or bamboo.
Avoid disposable items
Travelling often goes hand-in-hand with fast food, which can mean waste from packaging, plates and utensils. Plastic is the biggest polluter to our oceans, so eliminating or cutting down its use will have a huge impact on the environment. Pack your own reusable cutlery, crockery, straws and coffee cups — bamboo is a durable choice for travel — as well as tote bags for grocery shopping. Avoid plastic bottles of water by taking a refillable water bottle and a water filter jug. If you must use disposables, choose ones that are compostable or recyclable.
Make simple swaps
Little things add up, so think about where you can make some easy and affordable changes. Pick energy-efficient appliances, swap regular light bulbs for LED bulbs and fill up on biodiesel if you have the option. When choosing cleaning and personal care products, consider the impact of chemicals on soils and waterways once disposed of from your water tank or when used in open areas, and go natural wherever possible ¬for shampoo, sunscreen, dishwashing liquid and everything in between.
Find an eco-friendly campground
Select a site that has been camped in before you in order to avoid causing further damage to natural areas. There are lots of accommodation providers that promote sustainable tourism. Do some research before you set off by seeking out campsites that employ green practices such as such as solar power and rainwater harvesting.
Shop and eat local
Stocking up on food and supplies locally is one of the best ways to support a community, not to mention you'll save money and feel healthier when you're not living on takeaway. Pull over at farmers' markets for fresh, seasonal produce — it can be useful to check dates, times and locations beforehand — and eat at local cafes rather than buying groceries at larger supermarkets and restaurant chains. Shopping this way will also reduce waste, however if you do end up with cans and bottles, be sure to drop them at the nearest recycling bin or keep them in a designated box for disposal when you get home.
Reduce water and energy use
Most accommodation comes at a cost to the environment and staying in a motorhome is no exception. There are, however, lots of ways to cut down on the amount of power and water you use. Keep your showers short and be conservative when you're washing up dishes. Park in the shade to keep your RV cool through the day and pack plenty of warm blankets so you can minimise the use of heating and air-conditioning.
Leave it as you found it
The large reason many motorhome owners enjoy the open road is because they can appreciate an area's natural beauty and pristine state. Do your part to make sure it stays this way by being a respectful visitor — take any rubbish with you, keep to marked trails to avoid trampling fragile flora, only light campfires in permitted areas, and maintain distance from and never feed local wildlife. Also, be aware of where you drive and park your vehicle — avoid going off road, which can damage plant life, cause soil erosion and leave ruts when the ground is wet.