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Are motorhomes an eco, responsible way to travel?

Are motorhomes an eco, responsible way to travel?

As usual, it basically depends on one’s own attitude.

To start with, follow the basic “Leave No Trace” rules, pay attention to any special limitations of the place you visit (e.g national park), respect local culture, and shop locally. Energy (and water) supply is limited in motorhomes (compared with your home or a hotel room). So, unless you are stationed at an organized camp site, you’ll have to reduce your consumption even if you are not so eco-sensitive—this already puts you in a different mindset, which is a good thing. But note that most motorhomes nowadays come with solar panels, which are typically enough to keep you autonomous. Moreover, with a motorhome, you can drive less, as you can see everything you want, without having to return every night to some “base”. There is also plenty of space to carry bicycles, so that you may casually drive around the area and enjoy nature with a minimal carbon footprint. And of course, since you are so close to nature, you develop a much larger appetite for walking/hiking.

Last but not least: if possible, travel in low season. This way, you get the most of the places you visit, while at the same time you support local societies during the time of the year that they need you the most; you will also enjoy more hospitality, that’s for sure.

Here a collection of photos of our holidays in Peloponnesus, South Greece, during May 2016

 Monemvasia from above

Polylimnio Waterfalls

Our secret surf spot

Methoni castle

Nafplio castle Palamidi

Endless empty beaches

Diros caves

Bike & explore

The Sultan of Strings
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Thank you very much for this post. "Are motorhomes an eco, responsible way to travel?" It depends. Green Travel essentially means enjoying yourself while helping your hosts, learning something new, and travelling in as green a mode as the...

Thank you very much for this post. "Are motorhomes an eco, responsible way to travel?" It depends. Green Travel essentially means enjoying yourself while helping your hosts, learning something new, and travelling in as green a mode as the circumstances allow - green travel is not a holier-than-thou competition otherwise we could just stay home and win.

Most people (at least those in the more affluent global north who have the privilege to go on vacations) will try different modes of travel throughout our lifetimes. And for the globally redistributive element of travel to take effect, we cannot exclude airlines and long-haul travel, let alone RVs.

But when we think of green travel, we usually think of travelling light, so picturing for a moment the size of the average modern RV, green RV travel is a bit counter-intuitive.

Still, it depends:

- Size: Even considering the size, there is a wide variety, RV vehicles range from modern versions of the legendary (hippy-era) Volkswagen Van to palaces on wheels.

- Alternatives: What are we really comparing? If it is possible to walk, take the train, boat or public bus to a destination, or staying at a green, local, cooperatively-owned ecolodge, or pitching your tent in an organic farm, then RV travel will probably be not be the most ecological option.

- Length & Place of Travel: 1,000 km express tour in popular resorts over a weekend, or 1,000 km slow travel through protected areas in a month?

- Carbon Emissions: In terms of carbon emissions, this article
https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=69191
seems to find that using the RV is worse than flying and renting a Hybrid, or travelling with an SUV.

- Local Revenue Generation: using an RV could mean that someone neither uses local accommodation, nor restaurants, nor bars. Thus lesser revenue. Then again, there is no guarantee that people on package tours who use all of these (hotels, restaurants, bars) generate more local revenue, as there are leakages.

- Infrastructure Needs: On the other hand, an undeveloped destination which is mostly visited by people in RVs does not need a lot of infrastructure. In the case of protected areas or remote, rugged coastlines, this may save an area from inappropriate development and enclosure of the commons.

- Purchasing Behaviour: It is also the details in the behaviour of the RV traveller that matter. Do they only buy food from supermarket chains, or local groceries? Do they eat out? Will they stay in a local, organised camping or even spend a couple of nights in a locally-owned small hotel?

- Driving Behaviour: Do they mainly use appropriate roads to move or risk the safety of the passengers and other drivers by driving in very narrow and windy country roads and village centres.

- Parking: Parking where it is not allowed. Some countries laws, under pressure from local hoteliers but in some instances from conservative circles fearing 'lewd' behaviour, disallow free camping and caravaning outside camping sites. Many in green circles are of course in favour of both free camping and ("lewd" behaviour)

- Maintenance: Is the RV well-maintained and as light as possible so that it emits less pollution? There are even some new electric RVs see http://roadtreking.com/new-etrek-class-b-motorhome/

Probably nothing beats the feeling of independence and ability to improvise on holiday that an RV vacation offers but as all things in life it comes at a cost, no less the rather high cost of purchasing an RV. This has also prompted a cottage industry of RV recycling and salvage, see http://www.azrvsalvage.com/ Renting an RV for a short trip is probably the safest option to test if this is something for you.

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Antonis Petropoulos Antonis Petropoulos
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