GreenAroundTheGlobe - Part 12

Meet The Beast

by Keith on August 25, 2010 · 2 comments

1998 Ford Expedition

Meet the Beast.  That is the affectionate nickname we gave to the Eddie Bauer Edition 1998 Ford Expedition my dad graciously offered to loan us for our 4-week U.S. and Canadian road trip.  One question that may immediately come to mind when seeing our choice for vehicle is, “Hey I thought this blog was GREEN Around the Globe? What’s with the massive gas-guzzling SUV? Shouldn’t you guys be driving a Prius?”  While Amy and I do have a passion for the environment and for businesses that have environmental sustainability as a core strategy, we are also firm believers that economic incentives play a huge role in the choices that we make as consumers.  As such, I wanted to detail the evaluation process we went through and why the Beast was the best option.

Need for Flexibility
When we returned from Australia and made the decision to continue traveling closer to home, we needed transport that offered flexibility.  After briefly considering the few public transport options, trains, buses, airplanes, etc. we came to the quick realization we were back in the car-centric US.  If we wanted to get across the country at a reasonable cost while being able to stop and see places along the way we needed to drive.  This was reinforced when flipping through the Lonely Planet USA in a bookstore.  In the things to remember section it said, “Driver license, even if you don’t plan on driving, once you see how big America is you may change your mind. “  So we needed a vehicle.  We also had to plan for the possibility that we might have to return to the East Coast on short notice and would prefer not to have to drive three days straight to do that.  With this as our primary evaluation criteria for transport we had two options: rent a car from a national company or borrow the Beast from my dad.  With the rental car, if we needed to we could go to the nearest airport and return the car, probably pay a penalty, and get on a plane.  With the Beast, we could go to the nearest airport, lock it up and get on a plane.  We’d then have to return when we could to get it back to Cincinnati.  However, my dad was not very concerned about when it was returned, increasing the flexibility of this option.  With that settled, next we needed to evaluate costs, which called for a spreadsheet.

Cost Comparison
Surprisingly, the Beast was the cheaper option, 30% cheaper in fact.  Let me explain how I got to that estimate.  For overall trip assumptions we estimated that the 32-day road trip would be about 7,500 miles and that gas would cost on average $3 per gallon.  Also built into the detailed assumptions was the cost to offset any incremental CO2 that would be created by choosing the less fuel efficient Beast over a smaller rental car.  (Detailed assumptions are outlined below).  In the end, with the relatively cheap cost of fuel in the U.S., and the high per day rental cost, the Beast still had the cost advantage.  This savings amounted to nearly $9/day.  Not to mention the added flexibility borrowing a car from family offered vs. the prospect of dealing with a rental car company in the event our plans changed.  Somehow I suspect that Avis would be less understanding than KEA was with our camper van rental in Australia.

Detailed Cost Assumptions

What do you think?  Would you have taken the Beast, or rented a smaller, more fuel efficient car?  Let us know in the comments below.


Six Weeks in Six Minutes

by Amy on August 23, 2010 · 1 comment

Here it is, folks, our latest video on our six weeks in Bhutan and China this past spring.  We had an incredible experience in both countries.  Enjoy!

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Back on the Travel Horse

by Amy on August 19, 2010 · 4 comments

It is not the decision to come home early when a family member gets sick that is hard. It’s the decision about what to do once you are there, months before you expected.  Months that your condo is occupied by a tenant, months when that car your sold right before you left would’ve come in handy, months when the prospect of finding employment again looms large.

It took a few weeks of visiting friends and family, sorting the piles of mail that awaited us and fielding the endless questions of what we were going to do with ourselves before we made the conscience decision to treat these months as merely the next part of our year around the world adventure. Same trip, different itinerary.  Instead of southern Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, we’d continue to travel in the US and Canada. And we’d start immediately, two miles south of the home I grew up in, at the George Washington Bridge.

It might sound strange, but in the 30 years that my mother has lived in that same house, I had never once walked across this iconic bridge. Sure, I’d driven across it a million times, admiring the views of the Manhattan skyline and the Palisades cliffs while sitting in traffic.  I’d watched joggers out on their morning runs, commuters walking briskly to the other side, bicyclists rolling along the narrow pedestrian walkway, and think to myself that one day, when the weather is fine, I should do that.  That day arrived on a relatively cool, clear June evening.

We waited until the sun started its western descent and hit the road, arriving at the bridge to catch the end of rush hour.  We parked, grabbed the camera and wandered down to the pedestrian entrance on the Fort Lee side of the bridge.  In between snapping pictures and convincing security who were less than thrilled with our picture taking that we were just tourists out for a stroll, we laid out the tentative plans that would become the route of our US and Canadian road trip.

Amidst the scent of car fumes and the grit of debris that lined the walkway, we allowed ourselves to fall back into travel mode.  Destinations that at the same time seemed close to home but that we hadn’t yet made it to swirled in our heads. Mt. Rushmore. Glacier National Park. Banff. Victoria. Anywhere not as hot as summer on the east coast!

It’s not the adventure we had originally planned, but if we’ve learned anything during our 9 months abroad, it’s that nothing ever goes as originally planned. And yet everything seems to work out for the best. That’s the beauty of travel, and so the adventure continues.