How to combine vanlife and environmentally responsible travel?

Whether you take the road in a van or motorhome, does your holiday rhyme with ecology or the impact on the environment?

The Covid-19 health crisis has exacerbated the trend of slow tourism and our desire to escape. The desire to relax is becoming more and more urgent, the return to the sources is closely linked to our well-being.

Travel is gradually changing and becoming environmentally responsible with new practices, oriented towards a more environmentally friendly approach. It tends to respect the basics: tourism targeted at locals and concerned about its environmental approach.

The van adventure makes it possible to achieve this convergence between the journey and the need to reconnect with nature. But how do you combine your thirst for freedom with environmentally friendly practices?

1. The vehicle and its environmental impact

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When buying your van, why not consider the used car market? You save money and at the same time protect the environment. Your choice can also be directed at hybrid or electric cars, which provide a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.

Just like when buying a home, you must also pay attention to the composition of your new vehicle: used materials, paint, etc. The environmental standards of the products used (“NF Environnementale or European Eco Label for example) and the materials produced in France will be a solid basis for your wishes for a sustainable (re) connection to nature.

Finally, we advise you to pay special attention to the maintenance of your vehicle to avoid any contamination that would not be detected without regular inspections.

2. Drive environmentally responsible

Driving in an environmentally responsible condition

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When planning your route, keep in mind the secondary roads, which will be an opportunity to discover different landscapes while avoiding the highway pollutants, which are more polluting.

The van gives a new meaning to travel: the art of taking time, a more “authentic” way that praises the slowness of discovering the riches of the territory in a different way.

However, it is necessary to respect a few simple principles: Check the tire pressure (too low pump, they drastically increase your fuel consumption), anticipate obstacles as much as possible to limit untimely braking, or even do not overload the cabin to reduce energy consumption. Speed ​​also plays a big role. Just like in a car, do not press the accelerator unnecessarily: fast driving increases the production of CO2.

Also remember not to air-condition or heat the cabin unnecessarily (the insulation studied upstream gets its full significance here). The cool temperatures are an opportunity to wrap up in a cozy plaid and enjoy a hot chocolate marshmallow in a big sweater!

It may be interesting to invest in solar panels during development, which will allow you to recharge your electrical items with more autonomy.

Last important point: travel when the van is parked. The ideal way to get around is to prefer the use of soft means of transportation. A bike ride to get to the market or a walk to get a baguette for breakfast are all actions that can affect your CO2 footprint.

3. Gastronomy and sustainable van travel: dream or reality?

Gastronomy and sustainable van travel: dream or reality?

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Our food has a real impact on our environment: consumption of products wrapped in plastic, fruits and vegetables that come from the other side of the world … How can we eat more sustainably, especially when we travel?

To start with, it is useful to provide fabric bags to carry out your purchases and thus avoid buying another plastic bag (as recyclable as it is, do not you already have an impressive collection?).

These bags, or tote bags, ideally made of cotton, are washable, lightweight and allow you to transport your purchases, including those purchased in bulk. In fact, your purchases can be directed to these departments, which allow you to take only the strictly necessary quantity. Enough to save money for you and the planet!

Traveling is also a great way to discover all these taste buds working in the 4 corners of the world. This means having the opportunity to taste local and seasonal products, to eat fresh while enjoying local specialties and avoiding overpacking.

Also remember to bring glass jars to fill at the merchants! There are also organic packaging, which replaces the household film: the bi wrapwhich we invite you to discover without further delay!

Finally, a few tips when cooking: think of lids to heat your food for a shorter time and limit the time it takes for the water to run out. In addition, investing in mixing valves is an ingenious system that reduces the flow. Finally, to taste the culinary wonders that you want to dig up, plan and bring dishes so you do not have to use disposable containers. And as for the dishes, two tubs to wash them will be perfect to avoid wasting water.

4. Vanlifer’s best ally: his water bottle!


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Dmytro Melnyk

It is made of stainless steel or metal, hermetic and isothermal. Perfect for your daily consumption, while avoiding water bottles, it will also be invaluable to drink a hot coffee or tea, even during a hike. The purchase of this item can be made on the Internet, but to avoid deliveries and the pollution it generates, we advise you to contact an organic store or a sports equipment manufacturer.

Once you have purchased your precious water bottles, it will be crucial to ensure your autonomy of 5 to 10 liters of water. You can therefore choose a carboy that you can recycle often without the risk of seeing plastic microparticles pass through your water, as would be the case with water bottles purchased at the supermarket that are not designed to be recycled.

5. Are environmentally responsible cleaning and traveling travel compatible?

Environmentally responsible cleaning

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Who says the home says cleaning, but the products used are often not very environmentally friendly, or even simply toxic! Still, it is necessary to live in a healthy space, so how do you achieve this?

As for household products, you may prefer organic, some can also be purchased in bulk (e.g. white vinegar in organic stores), but to go further, why not make your own cleaning products?

In the end, you only need a few ingredients to clean and disinfect surfaces: white vinegar, lemon, baking soda and a little elbow grease will be your winning combination!

Regarding laundry, be aware that there are many books and recipe pages to do it yourself, but an authentic Marseille soap can do you a lot of good on its own: cleaning clothes or doing the dishes, for example. It’s multitasking and above all cheap! Of course, dispose of disposable products such as disposable wipes!

6. Organic waste management on holiday

Compost pots

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Even if you pay close attention to your consumption, you will still produce waste. In a van, it is important to organize their treatment to avoid the spread of bacteria and their nauseating aromas, which can quickly embalm your little cocoon.

With this in mind, it is interesting to have several sorting bins, to be able to throw in the appropriate rubbish bins: glass, cardboard / paper and household waste. To limit your waste, bring biodegradable items.

Finally, a glass jar with a lid will serve as a small compost pot and you can bury your food waste (an accessory for garden shovel will be very useful). Do not forget that the risk of fire exists in all seasons and that in the spirit of protecting nature it is better to pick up your peels or bury them rather than burn them. With this in mind, do not leave anything behind and park as much as possible in areas with restrictions.

7. Does hygiene rhyme with ecology when traveling?

Solid cosmetics

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Bogdan Sonjachnyj

Homelessness imposes a reflection on personal hygiene. It is possible to shower directly in some vans, thanks to small (but functional) bathrooms! And for those who are not equipped with one, there are other solutions: solar shower, communal, gas stations or even equipped areas and rental of location (camping or even from individuals who rent a parking space on their property with possible access to certain facilities) .

The products used can be solid, this avoids plastic and water pollution. Thus, you may prefer solid soap, dry shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant. Space saving and water saving are on the program because these products foam less and are therefore rinsed faster. However, prohibit their use in natural places (eg mountain lakes).

The cosmetics you take with you should be limited to what is strictly necessary, and we advise you to prefer formulas that respect the environment. Think of all-in-one conditioners like those based on coconut or shea that moisturize and repair the skin.

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