If you’re a traveler who would like to RV more responsibly, doing things like using less plastic, leaving no trace and recycling while on the road, this post is for you.
Find out how RVing experts travel to beautiful places in their home on wheels while doing what they can to be kind to the environment, as well as from companies who know a thing or two about this topic.
It wasn’t that long ago that Todd and I were complete RV newbies. And when people found out we were about to hit the road full-time in our travel trailer with absolutely no experience, we receive all kinds of advice.
Not only did we receive advice (some good, some not so good) we also received looks of concern, surprise and are you crazy?
One comment someone made to Todd while he was getting our hitch installed stuck with me while we traveled and it continues to stick with me now that we’re taking a break from full-time travel.
She said one thing we’re going to have to accept while on the road is the fact that we’ll be creating more trash than we’re used to in a home. She said we’d use way more paper products and just produce more trash in general and that was something we’d just have to deal with.
I not only thought that was a very interesting comment, but I also thought that surely there was a way to be more environmentally responsible while we traveled.
While there is much more we could have done to RV more responsibly, we did try to stay aware of the number of paper plates we used, as well as taking advantage of recycling at RV parks.
Traveling More Responsibly Is a Travel Trend for 2020
What got me thinking about this topic again, was an article I was reading where it said that being more environmentally responsible while we travel would be a big trend for 2020.
So instead of me trying to scrounge up tips from our time on the road, I decided this topic was best for RVers and companies who embrace responsible travel and know a bit more than we do.
8 Tips for How to RV More Responsibly
1. RVers Can Reduce Footprint with a Blix ebike
How do you get around the RV campground and the nearby city streets when you RV? We had one bike with us for our teenager, but that was it. There were definitely times we wish we had another mode of transportation other than our massive truck.
While in Santa Barbara, CA we rented a Surrey and not only was it a blast, but it was so nice to leave the truck parked and enjoy parts of the city by bike. We loved it so much, we listed it as one of the best things to do in Santa Barbara if you only have one day.
One of Blix Ebikes’ (located in Santa Cruz, CA) largest customer bases is RVers who choose to add an electric bike to their RV so that when they are at their campground, they can leave their car behind and use the Ebike to get around.
This helps reduce their fuel use and lowers their carbon footprint while RVing.
With an ebike, they can head to the grocery store, into town, and explore without leaving a trace of gas emissions.
Image: Blix Electric Bikes
2. Making Changes to Get the Best Gas Mileage Possible
If you ask RVers what one of the top items they spend the most money on while traveling is, they’ll without a doubt tell you it’s fuel.
This was a huge expense for us and while Todd gives some tips in this post on how to reduce your costs while full-time RVing, one RVer has a couple of unique tips to share.
Michael from the site RVBlogger.com shares:
“One way that Susan and I try to reduce our carbon footprint is to get the best gas mileage possible while driving our 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C RV.
We accomplish this goal by making sure our tires are properly inflated but most importantly I drive with a different attitude than when I drive my car.
I learned this new driving style from a trucker who makes his living driving big rigs. He is meticulous about getting the best gas mileage possible because it cuts his fuel cost significantly over the course of a year.
Here are 2 simple steps I learned from him.
1. Drive as though you don’t have brakes! I guarantee it will change the way you drive! I make a game of it when I drive. This attitude forces me to drive smarter, slower and I have to look further down the road for brake lights so I get off the gas much sooner. I also drift much further when approaching traffic lights, brake lights, stop signs and curves in the road. This one tip will increase your gas mileage!
2. Use the gas peddle wisely. You should only accelerate when you are preparing to go up a hill, when you are coming out of a turn or if you are at a complete standstill. Other than that just use enough gas to drive the speed limit and never exceed 55 mph. It took me a while to get used to not stomping on the gas peddle to accelerate like I would in a car. But ultimately it makes a big difference in your gas mileage.
Those are the two big changes I have made. And when I am mindful, I can actually increase my gas mileage by 2 to 3 miles per gallon.”
For more information check out his detailed blog post called What Is the Average Gas Mileage for a Class C RV?
3. Eliminating Plastic Trash By Using a Good Water Purification System
Water purification and filtration is a big topic among RVers. We all want clean, great-tasting water and on top of that, not having to rely on plastic water bottles is a plus.
Tyler Bech from Guzzle H2O shares, “A great addition to an RV to reduce your environmental footprint is to have some kind of water filtration and purification device onboard. This way you can eliminate using plastic bottled water for hydration. This massively cuts down on trash, and plastic takes hundreds of years to deteriorate. In the meantime, it shows up everywhere as microplastic pollution.”
I love Guzzle H2O’s slogan which is “Pure water. No trash.” If you’re looking for a water filtration system to use while RVing, be sure to check out their line of products.
4. Dump Your Water Tank Before Hitting the Road
While packing up our travel trailer to hit the road full-time, one thing we had to stay on top of was the weight of our rig. So things like books, shoes, and tools were chosen very carefully on if they would be coming with us or not.
Another heavy item RVers have to stay aware of while traveling is the tanks. Unless you’re heading to a boondocking spot for a while, you don’t want to travel with a full water tank.
(If you’re not sure what boondocking is, check out the article Todd wrote which answers the questions “What Is Boondocking?“)
Anne Keery from AspiringWinos.com shares, “One of the struggles with being a responsible RVer is the environmental impact of pulling so much weight on the highway. One of the ways to get a win-win situation, which also helps with your fuel bill – bonus! – is to dump your water tank prior to returning home.
“However, to avoid wasting all of that potable water on the road, talk to the RV campground manager to see if there’s somewhere they could use the water. Many places have flower beds, grass fields, water features or even animal troughs for horses, etc, that would love a donation of your freshwater.
“If you are dry camping, take a look at the area and find a strategic place, perhaps watering some nearby trees. Strategic dumping is great for the RV community, the planet, and your wallet.”
5. Install Solar Panels
One question Todd and I get asked a lot now that we’re not traveling full-time any longer is if/when we hit the road again, what will we do differently.
While my response is to hit-up more wineries and food joints (priorities, am I right?), Todd’s response every single time is to install solar on our rig.
Why is solar such a big goal of Todd’s?
Jake Lane, who is director of growth for NuBrakes Mobile Brake Repair, understands the benefits of solar.
He shares, “Installing solar panels on your RV provides off-the-grid abilities, while also helping to conserve power use on the grid. Solar panels are great, as they don’t take up a ton of usable space, they stay out of sight, and can help deliver power to your rig when needed, especially in emergency situations.”
If RVing responsibly and getting off the grid is important to you, solar is a great place to start.
Take a look at Keep Your Daydream’s Ultimate RV Solar Setup video before they hit the road to Alaska.
6. Check Your Fluids
I have to brag on Todd for a minute here. The biggest reason I believe we didn’t have any disasters the 17 months we traveled full-time is because of how on top of things Todd stayed.
From buying new tires to put on our brand new travel trailer to taking care of repairs before they became a big deal, he made it his goal in life to always make sure our rig and truck were in tip-top shape.
Jake from NuBrakes Mobile Brake Repair shares one thing RVers should definitely stay on top of for both environmental reasons and staying safe on the road and that’s checking your fluids.
He says, “Another thing all travelers should do regardless of the environmental impact, is check their RV’s fluid levels and braking systems.
“Whether you’re hauling a fifth wheel or driving a diesel pusher, a properly maintained engine and brake system ensure you and those around you will stay safe on the road, while also diminishing the chances that a faulty system doesn’t leak unnecessary fluids at campsites while it sits overnight.”
7. Use Public Transportation
If you pull your rig with a huge truck as we did, then you know how frustrating it can be to navigate small city streets or a new town in your massive vehicle.
Jessica Baker from BoundlessBakers.com, a full-time RVer, shares how they save fuel (and their sanity) while visiting new places in their RV.
She says, “To reduce fuel use, we use public transportation as much as possible when camped at our destination. It’s a great way to get to see the places we visit, it saves on fuel money, and it means we don’t have to park our one-ton truck in small spaces!”
We agree wholeheartedly with her tip and used public transportation a lot in cities like New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Be sure to check out our guide on RVing in New York City here, where we share info on riding the subway from the RV park.
8. When Boondocking, Use Only Previously Used Spots
If saving money and camping in remote locations sounds like a dream to you, then you will definitely want to do your research when it comes to boondocking.
If you’re looking for an overnight stay for free while on your way from one location to the next, we highly recommend the site Boondocker’s Welcome.
We found a great spot in Canada, in someone’s driveaway no less, and they were the nicest people. That’s probably one of our fondest memories of people we met on the road.
Marianne who owns Boondocker’s Welcome, as well as another site, Frugal RV Travel, shared a tip with us on how to RV responsibly.
She said, “When boondocking on public land, use only previously-used sites. Obvious signs include a clearing with tire tracks or rocks piled as a fire ring.”
Why clear a new spot on beautiful land, when you can use one that’s all ready to go for you?
How Will You RV More Responsibly in 2020?
Whether you decide to install solar, use fewer paper products or any of the tips mentioned above, we hope these tips have helped you think about ways you can combine your love of RV camping with traveling responsibly.
Do you have any tips to share? If this is something you do on a regular basis, we would love to hear your tips and tricks.
Julie Bonner is one-half of the TREKKN team. She specializes in helping you whip up delicious meals in your tiny RV kitchen, as well as RV organization tips and helping fellow RVers make their RV feel like home. Her favorite RVing spot is in Banff National Park in Canada where yes, the water really is that blue and the people really are that nice.