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Phoenix Forward

5 ways to have a fuel-free vacation

Take inexpensive mass transit for urban summer fun

With the cost of filling your vehicle's gas tank, the all-American road trip may not be the best bet for family vacations or pocketbooks. But don’t fret: According to Michael Bevis, who teaches business management courses at the University of Phoenix Madison Campus, there are plenty of terrific warm-weather adventures for people wanting to avoid filling and refilling their gas tank. Here are his top five tips:

Get around by bus or subway.

1. Get around by bus or subway.

Take public transportation such as a train or bus to a metro center you’ve never visited before. From Boston to New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Seattle, there are a variety of cities where people can rely on walking or inexpensive public transportation to get around and avoid cars altogether.

“A lot of people are turned off by public transportation, because they think it’s limited,” Bevis says. “But lots of cities today offer flexible passes, where tourists can hop off and on the bus all day long for under $5.”


2. Become a beach bum.

Take your family to a beautiful spot on the shore for a few days, and they’ll never want to go anywhere else, much less drive a car. Many seaside towns offer convenient accommodations, where everything — the corner grocery store, restaurants, the movie theater, shops and the ice cream parlor — are only a short walk away.


3. Plan on pedal pushing.

With so many communities focused on green initiatives, it’s now convenient to rent bikes in a variety of large metropolitan areas. New York City, Minneapolis, Denver and other cities offer very convenient and inexpensive bike-rental and bike-sharing programs to tourists.

“In Madison, Wisc., for instance,” Bevis says, “people can just rent a bike from a stand by swiping their credit card, ride it as long as they like and drop it off at any point where there’s another rack.”


4. Hoof it!

Want a creative and adventurous vacation? Plan a backpacking trip in a beautiful area where you can spend each day trekking to different lodging destinations. “You can discover many wonderful scenic locations — which you would otherwise miss — simply by walking around,” Bevis says. “And it’s great for your health, too.”


5. Take a car-free volunteer vacation.

As volunteerism becomes increasingly popular, there are more and more options for families looking to get involved in efforts to help the planet while enjoying an outing in nature.

The Sierra Club® and other environmentally minded organizations” Bevis says, “offer affordable service trips for families and individuals who want to get involved with an environmental cause over several days as a volunteer.”


Sierra Club is a registered trademark of the Sierra Club.