How To Plan Eco-Friendly Road Trips In The UK

Poppy Backshall - Aug 10, 2023 - Inspiration6558Self Guided

Written by Annie Button

Planning a road trip across the stunning, varied regions of the UK? We can’t blame you. With its rugged coastlines, rolling green hills, historic cities and quaint villages, this country promises an unforgettable adventure.

However, in an age where we all have a responsibility to leave as little impact on the environment as possible, we must consider our choices carefully. With talks of climate change and net zero targets growing with each passing day, glossing over the environmental footprint of a large-scale UK road trip would be irresponsible. All Adventure Tours UK trips are carbon labelled, helping you to make informed choices about the impact of your holiday.

We want to help you achieve the same sensation of adventure and excitement that comes with a thrilling excursion like this, without it coming at such a hefty cost to the planet’s resources. With some small habitual changes and adjustments to your planning, you can reap all the benefits of stunning road trips in the UK, like driving the South West 660 route through Devon & Dorset all while having less impact on the environment.

Follow these tips to create a more environmentally-friendly driving holiday.

Choose an Eco-Friendly, Efficient Vehicle

The first decision to make is which car to use for your road trip. Opting for a fuel-efficient, low-emissions vehicle will greatly reduce your carbon footprint, and luckily, there are increasing numbers of available options. Most UK car rental companies will be able to advise you on choosing an eco-friendly vehicle, or use the tips below to help make an educated choice.

Here are some options to consider:

  • Electric cars – Models like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 offer excellent range and performance with zero tailpipe emissions. Just be sure to plan strategic charging stops along your route, along with sufficient time to allow charging to fully complete.
  • Hybrid car – Hybrid cars achieve outstanding mileage, often going several hours uninterrupted, without needing to be recharged. The Toyota Prius and Hyundai IONIQ ranges give a good blend of efficiency and practicality, while still being affordable
  • Small petrol cars – If electric or hybrid vehicles are out of budget (which is understandable as many still carry higher upfront purchase prices) you can opt for petrol models with smaller engines. These are slightly more eco-friendly, and engines like the Renault Clio or Vauxhall Corsa tend to offer greater mileage to the gallon for less fuel.
  • Rental cars – Rather than buying or leasing cars outright, you can approach car rental companies to borrow eco-friendly vehicles for fixed periods of time. This saves you from the hardship of buying a new car and the extended time to take out insurance, road tax, and so on. Many rental companies may even incorporate insurance costs into the rental price to make the process easier and more efficient.

Pack Light and Go Plastic-Free

A bottle of whisky in Scotland

Once you’ve decided on your vehicle, the next step is packing. Travelling light and only taking the essentials will reduce your fuel usage. Although it might not seem like much, if you add up the weight of all non-essential items, you’ll be surprised at how much energy you could be saving. 

In addition, avoiding single-use plastics and packing reusables is inherently more eco-friendly by nature. Consider taking these items as examples:

  • Refillable water bottles and coffee cups
  • Metal straws and cutlery
  • Cloth shopping bags
  • Bamboo toothbrushes
  • Shampoo and soap bars instead of bottles

Furthermore, seeking out independent food providers such as cafes/restaurants that focus on locally sourced ingredients can be a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your meals as well as sample the best food! On an Adventure Tours UK road trip, such as the 14-day Highlands & Islands trip you will be provided with recommendations for some of the best places to eat in Scotland.

Choose the Right Accommodation

When you’ve decided exactly which of the many road trips in the UK you would like to explore, you can begin to map out the equally varied destinations within reach along the way. Extend your eco-friendly activities to include staying at sustainable lodges, green hotels, B&Bs, glamping sites, or other places with environmental certifications.

Look for those with eco-credentials like:

  • Renewable energy sources
  • Water reduction initiatives
  • Waste recycling programmes
  • Local and organic food
  • Nature conservation efforts
  • Green transport offered to guests

Not only will you reduce your impact, but these places often provide unique and memorable experiences, whether it’s stargazing or natural wildlife encounters.

Document Your Eco-Adventure

Make the memories last by documenting your sustainable and eco-friendly road trip. Written journals, photos, videos and blog posts will let you relive the journey long after it concludes. 

To capture those crucial videography shots and angles, check out this essential guide to basic filmmaking techniques from MPB UK, an eCommerce platform that actively tries to reduce e-waste through the selling, buying and trading of used cameras and video equipment.

Explore your creative side by creating engaging and inspiring content that you can share. Spread the message that you can still experience unforgettable road trips in the UK  while being sustainable at the same time. You could be surprised at how impactful your photos and videos could be in helping others adopt similar sustainable practices.

Eat Local

Vegetables at a farm shop on a road trip in the UK

One of the many joys of road trips in the UK is the opportunity to sample some truly delicious, authentic local produce and cuisine along the way. There are many new food and drink experiences to explore. Delicacies such as traditional Cornish pasties, Cheddar Gorge cheese and Grasmere gingerbread, together with the award winning Sussex wines at Ridgeview vineyard, or the well known Yorkshire based Black Sheep and Theakstons breweries. Just a few of the many regional delights across the UK. 

By seeking out the right types of markets, farm shops, cafes and restaurants, you can enjoy some traditional delicacies made from locally-sourced ingredients, while reducing food miles and supporting smaller, regional producers. By extension, you’ll be making a positive difference to the local economy. Of course, while everyone has dietary preferences, eating vegetarian and vegan meals on occasion will be a great environmentally-friendly choice.

Travel Green

eco-friendly road trips in the UK

If you’re staying in a fixed destination for a while, consider finding alternative, low-carbon ways to get around the local towns, villages, and roads.

  • Walk or cycle – Active transport like hiking, biking and horse riding allows you to explore the local scenery at the cost of precisely zero emissions.
  • Public transport – Buses, trains and ferries provide picturesque, eco-friendly transport between towns and cities, which is handy if you’re in rural accommodation.
  • Eco-tours – Guided kayaking, snorkelling, surfing, and wildlife-watching adventures are possible with local companies committed to sustainability.
  • Join a group tour – Joining a Small Group Tour is a great way to reduce emissions from transport as people can travel together in one vehicle.

Explore Sustainably

People kayaking on a road trip in the UK

Road trips in the UK offer endless opportunities to get out and enjoy nature’s beauty. Make sure you do so in a way that preserves these natural wonders for future generations.

  • Visit national parks and nature reserves that practise sustainable tourism. There are numerous hiking trails to discover independently, ranging from short strolls to full day treks.
  • Book eco-certified wildlife and nature tours led by qualified guides, like whale watching, birding safaris, and marine life kayaking excursions off the coast.
  • Download apps like SkyView Lite to enrich stargazing at Dark Sky Discovery Sites like Exmoor National Park. Learn about astronomy while preserving dark skies.
  • Pack reusable snorkelling gear, hiking poles, binoculars and camping equipment instead of renting single-use items.
  • Purchase tour tickets and passes online when possible to cut down on paper waste. Opt for electronic versions on your mobile device.
  • Read up on Leave No Trace principles before any outdoor activities and follow all guidelines to minimise your environmental impact.
  • Take part in or organise your own trail/beach clean and log what you find with Trash Free Trails.
  • Consider contributing to conservation organisations like The National Trust that preserve important natural and historical sites.

Appreciate your wonderful environment, forge lasting memories, and have a positive impact by following eco-friendly practices. The rewards will be well worth the extra effort.

Ready to start planning your greener driving adventure? Exploring our stunning country will open your eyes to a variety of regionally diverse, purely outstanding and eco-friendly spots. Just take a look at some of Adventure Tours UK’s selection of epic road trips in the UK that encompass a whole range of eco-friendly activities and travel, from our expert recommendations.

With some eco-conscious planning, your road trip can be both memorable and responsible. Follow these tips to reduce your impact while still enjoying stunning scenery and local culture.