Flying requires a tremendous amount of resources and produces sizable emissions. We all know this. So it makes sense to drive somewhere close to you instead of flying—you’ll drastically reduce the energy emissions associated with your trip. You’ll also likely save money.
How much you save depends on where you’re headed and what you’re driving. Grist.org calculated that driving from Philadelphia to Boston--or Munich to Milan--(about 300 miles or 483 km) in a typical medium-sized car generates about 104 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. This is regardless of how many people are in said car. Flying on a commercial jet for the same trip would generate around 184 kilograms of CO2 per passenger.
When taking a short trip, get in your car!
Take steps to make your drive as efficient as possible. These can include having your car serviced regularly, keeping your tires filled to the correct pressure, and not schlepping around unnecessary items that add weight—like a roof rack you aren’t using.
If you have the option, drive a fuel-efficient car that gets around 35 miles per gallon (14.9 km/L) or more. A 2013 Toyota Prius hybrid gets an estimated 48 mpg (20.4 km/L) on the highway, while 2013 Volkswagen Golf clean diesel get about 42 mpg (17.9 km/L). Pretty good compared to the roughly 23 mpg (9.8 km/L) most U.S. passenger cars get these days.