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Green Travel- Transportation

October 2, 2008

Prius, originally uploaded by etravus is for Obama/Biden 2008.

Awhile ago I (N.) posted about greening up your home office and I promised I would eventually post of green travel. As a traveling sales person I get to work out of my home but about half the time I’m traveling and therefore “home” is also defined as whatever hotel I’m staying in for the night.

There are alot of aspectives to green travel- transportation, lodging, food, entertainment etc and I plan to devote a seperate post to each of these starting with transportation. We live in Philadelphia which has an international airpot, a large Amtrack station and easy access to major highways. All of those were incentives for us to live here since we knew I would need to travel throughout the northeast for work. I also wanted a location that would enable me to drive to most of my customers. And I can get to most places within the northeast in under 6 hours. For distances longer then that then I will take the train. Besides being more environmentally friendly I think trains are just easier. You don’t have to go through security which means you don’t have to get there two hours early and you don’t have baggage restrictions. Well technically Amtrack does have published luggage restrictions but they don’t really follow them. Trains are also cheaper! Recently I had to travel up to Albany a plane ticket would have cost $300 (one way!) versus a business class train ticket that cost me $125.

Since I don’t travel by train or plane that often though I want to focus on green travel via car. These are lessons that can also be applied to pleasure travel. Like many business travelers I will eventually have a company car. I was even able to pick among five different vehicles which one I prefered. When I came onboard in July the most eco-friendly car my company was offering was the Chrysler 300, at 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway it’s hardly a gas sipper. Luckily by holding out until they made new contracts for 2009 I was able to expand my options. I decided on the Dodge Journey which gets 19 and 25 mpg. It’s still nowhere near my Ford Escape Hybrid and even further from a Prius but it’s the best that is available that can haul on my gear. J. is lucky that his company offers the Ford Escape Hybrid as a company car but I would imagine that more and more companies are going to move to that in order to save money. Both J. and I get reimbursed for gas so from a monetary stand point it doesn’t matter how much gas the vehicle uses or the cost of gas but for companies that base just about everything on money it’s going to start to make much more sense to switch their fleets to fuel efficient vehicles.

Although my car is ordered I won’t get it for another month or two and we don’t know when J will get his so we are still sharing our Hybrid which means for business travel I need to rent. Again my hands our tied by the contracts my company has so I can only from Hertz, Budget, or Enterprise. If you didn’t have those restrictions you could look at car shares like Zipcar which uses mostly fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles or EV Rental Cars which only rents hybrids or electric vehicles. Luckily for me Hertz does offer a green line which includes the Prius, Camry, and Corolla. You usually have to book these vehicles well in advance because they sell out and they will cost you more. The other option is to rent the smallest vehicle available. While we all like large roomy cars we hardly need that space. If you are traveling with kids I can see it but if you like me travel for business solo then you can get the economy car and do your part to save the Earth.

Now that you have your car you need to make sure that you are driving the green way and that you don’t load your car down with a bunch of stuff. This actually applies to any kind of travel. We have the tendency to bring way more then we need “just in case” and while some of that is good we probably don’t need to bring the kitchen sink with us :). When pack choose versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. Also keep in mind the weather where you are going and the things you will be doing. While I always bring a lighweight rain jacket with me when I travel I’m not going to pack thermals unless I know I’m going to need them. I’m also not going to pack a nice cocktail dress for a week of demonstrations out in the field.

Finally, even if you have your car or a rental you can still use your own two feet, a bicycle (either by bringing your own or renting) and public transportation. While the US doesn’t quite have the public rail system that Europe has many cities in the US have comprehensive public transportation systems. I lived in Boston for four years without a car and never felt it’s loss. In fact I was happier traveling by foot. Particularly if you are visiting somewhere for a short time you will get a better feel for the locale if you get out and walk around.

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