Smarter travel

We all need to travel to some extent – whether for commuting, shopping or school runs. By reviewing our travel needs and considering the options available, we can reduce our costs and environmental impact – and turn travel into something that makes us healthier and happier…

Smarter travel at work

DO I NEED TO TRAVEL? SAVE YOURSELF A JOURNEY: Obvious though it may sound, unless you’re visiting a patient you might be able to save yourself a journey. Why not hold a meeting remotely (tele-conference or video conference), or see if a courier can transfer a piece of equipment for you? If you’re meeting a contractor, ask them to come to you.

Once you’ve established you do need to travel, you may still be able to reduce the costs and carbon involved.

THE SMART COMMUTE: why not try walking, cycling or taking public transport to work? You could even car share with a colleague to reduce the wear and tear on each other’s cars.

smarter Travel is Walking to work

SWITCH TRAVEL MODE:  so many of us default to car use, but don’t forget to check if it’s worth doing the journey on foot, by bike or using public transport. For a longer journey you can often arrive better rested and less stressed than if you’ve spent a couple of hours behind the wheel in traffic. Why not take the train and enjoy a book and a coffee en route? It can also be a great opportunity to get some work done if you’re travelling for work – think about taking some reading or a laptop if you have access to one.

CAR SHARE: whether travelling to a meeting or sharing your commute you can reduce your fuel costs and be sociable at the same time. It might also provide you with a navigator if you don’t know the route!

PLAN YOUR JOURNEY: if you’re due to visit a few patients you’d be surprised how many miles (and how much time) you can save by doing so in the right order. Some NHS organisations provide advice to help understand how you can do your rounds most efficiently – find out what’s on offer for you and get planning!

Marie Newton_electric bike_cycleSpeech and Language Therapist at Sussex Community NHS Trust, Marie Newton, plans her routes and uses an electric bike for all of her patient visits.

This short video with Marie Newton explores how changing your travel options can be as good for you as it is for the planet.


ECO-DRIVE: There are a number of ways you can use your car and be kinder to your wallet and the planet – and give yourself a calmer drive at the same time. Why not try some of these and go for an ‘Eco-drive’?

  • Drive smoothly: We’ve all seen the teenagers in hot hatchbacks who screech away from the lights only to pull up sharply at the next set. All they’ve achieved is more fuel use and slightly thinner brake pads. Be sympathetic to your car and you’ll find you fill up less often and have lower maintenance bills.
  • Look ahead: Try to read the road further ahead and anticipate what you may need to do shortly. If you think someone might pull out in front, ease off the accelerator rather than braking when they actually do. And if you can see the traffic lights ahead are red, gauge your speed so you can keep driving when they change to green, rather than stopping and starting again. Braked energy is lost energy you’ll need to replace from the fuel tank.
  • Change up: Modern cars are able to operate under lower engine revolutions than older cars. For diesel cars, and on a flat clear road,  you should be moving to a higher gear between 1500 and 2000 revs; for petrol this is 2000 to 2500. Try to reach top gear as early as  you can, you’ll use less fuel as you progress.
  • Check your tyres: Your tyres are the only contact you have with the road so from a safety point of view you should check pressures and condition monthly anyway. But you can also waste fuel if the pressures aren’t correct: 25% lower pressure adds 10% resistance which you’ll need to replace by using more fuel.
  • Declutter: It’s good advice to carry items such as a torch and blanket that you might need in an emergency, but how about everything else? If you go away once a year, take the roof rails and top box off the car when you don’t need them to save up to 10% on fuel for the remainder of the time. Anything heavy in the boot? Take it out!
  • Turn it off: some new cars will do this automatically but if you’re stationary for a while why not turn your engine off? Level crossings, heavy congestion or even waiting for a friend – leaving your engine running is burning fuel unnecessarily.

Leaving your engine running whilst you’re stationary can burn up to half a litre of fuel an hour.

The great thing about eco-driving is that you can do it whenever you’re in the car – at work or off duty.

Interested in finding out more?

Primary Care - more info on smarter travel

Sussex Community Trust reduced its business mileage by 16% between 2012/13 and 2013/14 – a reduction of almost a million miles. That’s the equivalent of driving to the moon and back. Twice.


Smarter travel at home

Choosing to hop in the car is an easy default but if you stop and consider the alternatives you might save some cash, get fitter and help the environment into the bargain.

The good news is, pretty much all the tips in the section above are also relevant to when you’re at home! Why not have a think about these ideas…

WALK: Walking is not only good for your fitness levels; it also provides some head-space to collect your thoughts and de-stress. It’s been proven that walking helps you think more clearly, and can even help with inspiration! There is some great NHS advice on walking here.

CAR SHARE: If you’re out socially why not car share, you can take turns being the driver to events so you can safely enjoy a glass of wine! There are national car sharing networks you can join too – one example is liftshare.

CYCLE:  Getting on your bike can be one the best forms of exercise and it gets you from A to B almost as quickly as driving in towns with heavy traffic. Plus its zero carbon!

Cycling in Copenhagen