Tips & Guides | July 2019

Car Camping vs. Hotel: Which Is Greener?

Luno has already proven that car camping is far more cost-effective than other travel accommodations. But it turns out, car camping is not just better for your wallet—it’s also better for the environment. To prove just how green car camping is, we’ve decided to compare the eco-friendliness of a hotel stay to a car camping trip. We focused specifically on how much water and energy is used and how much waste is created. 

Water use


Some people love long walks on the beach. We love long showers in hotels. There’s just something luxurious about a steaming hot shower in a bathroom that you’ve never had to clean before. Unfortunately, our long shower is not the only source of excessive water use in hotels. In 2012, it was reported that the average 150-room hotel uses over 6,000 gallons of water per month. In the same year, hotels used 219 billion gallons of water in total. That’s equal to a person taking a shower non-stop for 277 years. Which is too long even for our liking. 

Conserve water by sleeping in your car rather than staying at a luxury affordable hotel.

This startling total is the result of the many different water expenses that are implicit to any hotel stay; washing the sheets and the eight towels in every bathroom add up quickly. Even if you don’t use all eight of the towels hanging in your hotel room (because let’s be honest, who on earth would need that many towels?) the hospitality team will wash all of them after your stay regardless. While that’s great for sanitation purposes, it’s less than ideal in terms of water consumption.

Car Camping

Since most cars don’t have indoor plumbing, water use while car camping is remarkably low. The H2O consumption of our trip comes from the water that we drink, which would be a given regardless of where we were staying. To those who complain that the lack of water availability is a problem for cleanliness, we’ve got two words for ya: 1) Hand 2) Sanitizer.

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The sight of energy consumption in a hotel is inescapable. The elevators that serve as amusement park-level entertainment for kids are lean, mean, energy-gobbling machines. The alarm clock on the nightstand that goes off at 6 a.m. without your permission is a glowing reminder of the electricity being consumed at all times. The hallway lights that never turn off are not only your mother’s worst nightmare but also a huge drain on natural resources. Don’t even get us started on the beef we have with the dozen TVs that line the lobby.  

We get that some energy use is a necessary evil when it comes to a hotel stay. It’s not like we’re suggesting hotels get rid of the waffle maker at the complimentary breakfast (we haven’t lost our minds). We’re just saying that there are definitely some opportunities to be greener when it comes to hospitality.

Car Camping

Sleeping in a car comes at a pretty minimal expense in terms of energy use. The largest amount of energy used on road-based adventures is the gasoline it takes to travel to our destination. Luckily, this is the same amount of fuel used to get to any other destination regardless of where travelers are staying at night. The fossil fuels that go into most car camping trips is dwarfed by the amount that goes into a hotel stay.

Sometimes there is a slight bump in gas use if you’re cooking with a portable stovetop. However, the same dinner at a hotel would be far more costly in terms of energy. Think of the electricity used to place a phone to call room service, plus the gas and electricity that it would take to make the meal, plus the electricity of the elevator ride up to our room... We could go on, but we think you get the point. 

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Hotels are looking to completely change the hip-hop game. That’s how many wrappers they produce. Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of just how much trash is created during a stay in a hotel, but a quick glance around your room will reveal that your stay comes at an environmental price. The cellophane used to individually package every soap bar and those weird tiny paper plates placed on top of water glasses are just a few examples of the seemingly harmless bits of trash that can really add up. Think of the trees! 

Save the trees by sleeping in your car to reduce waste

Car Camping

It is wonderfully easy to create next to no waste when car camping. Since travelers will be bringing all of the items they use, it’s quite easy to be mindful of the amount of trash that's created. The greatest source of trash when car camping probably comes from food packaging. Luckily, simple green life hacks offer great solutions to this issue. Buying food in bulk and packing meals in reusable containers helps to reduce the amount of trash generated. Reusable water bottles and compostable paper goods also help to minimize the amount of waste produced. The options for sustainability are endless!

Car camping won’t save the sea turtles. But it will be significantly better for the environment than a weekend in a hotel. So save money, live greener, and hit the road for your next great adventure.


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