Becoming carbon neutral and traveling a lot at the same time

dopplrApparently I am carbon neutral, according to Dopplr. They have tracked almost all of my journeys since 2008. I have taken a few journeys recently to sensitive places and I havent told Dopplr but I dont think they would add much to the total.

How did we do it, despite traveling so much? Not sure, really, but heres some factors that might contribute to it.

I sold my car in April last year for a whopping £600 which was fair for a 1997 Peugeot 806 with a few dents. We bought bikes for the family which takes a little longer to get around but its good for fitness and keeps the carbon down. Of course we take the bus most of the time when we are in one place, and that can be very time-consuming, but it seems right for now.


We normally carry 7 bikes on the back but recently, with the extra people, we have carried 2 extra bikes inside.

Our 1987 4x4 Iveco motorhome/overlander gets 14 MPG (about 20 litres/100km) which is a little worse than most motorhomes but better than most overlanders, but we have 7 people in it whenever we drive. Dopplr doesnt take that into consideration but I feel if you are going to drive, load up your vehicle with as many people as you can. And besides that, our total milage is probably much less than for those people who drive daily to work.

Our biggest savings in fuel last year was probably not automotive at all but rather in heating. Having left our apartment in March 2008, we dont have to heat it, or anything. Our motorhome is well insulated and since we have driven south to warmer climes, we havent spent anything at all on heating. Going south for the winter isn't just for the birds. It works for humans also. Although we are looking for a wood stove for our motorhome which is a cheap and efficient way to heat it when its gets cold, which it does occasionally.

We just added two solar panels of 225W each which means can can now fully charge up our leisure batteries every day and not have to use the engine.

We added mostly hand powered appliances to our motorhome - a hand cranking coffee grinder, a mangle for wringing out our clothes (which we hand wash) and even a foot pump for the water rather than electric pump.


Abigail gets cranky doing the washing.

I also reduced a lot of carbon, and saved some money and time, by turning down a number of conferences that had me flying a really long distance to contribute and then flying all the way home. What a waste! Instead, we set up events where we were, or where we were going to be along our travel circuit. That meant that I missed out on a few biggies but I spent more time with the family, and supported events that were more local. And those events that we took part in along the way were generally more relational and low-key rather than flashy, stage-centered and shallow.

As for the rest of 2010, here is the map that we are following. We are hooking up with missional entrepreneurs along the way. Let me know if we are coming through your town. Appreciate your prayers for safety as we travel, and for the other half of our support/sponsorship that we are still hoping for.


My current schedule:

Friday (today) Orkney Islands, UK

Saturday - Aberdeen, Scotland

Sunday - London

Monday - Oxford, with CMS

Tuesday - London

Wednesday - North Africa

Follow me on Dopplr, although take note that my North Africa schedule is not publicized there.

Taking the Family on the Road

Big article yesterday called "Dad lost his job, so this family lives on the road." Its about families who have traded their houses for motorhomes in order to ride out (no pun intended) the recession. The article points to a great website called Families on the Road which, if you look carefully on the front page, mentions the Jones family of 7 that is traveling around Europe. Their website is called Jonesberries, because they remind people of the Thornberrys.

Hey - wait a minute . . . thats us!


This is me, waking up this morning in Portugal, in a pre-coffee state, standing next to our overlander truck named Maggie. Its a bit small for a family of 7 [and their friends] but we often find ourselves in tight situations where a larger vehicle wouldn't make it.

Because my job has me traveling to out-of-the-way mission projects and social enterprises that are often off the grid, I need a 4x4 truck that can get us there and back again. Its pretty slow on the highway - top speed of 90km - but its reliable. It has an air-cooled 6 cyclinder engine that gets about 14 MPG. Its not much but we carry a lot of people and weight. I call it the Great Commission vehicle.


The most frequent question is about schooling and our 5 children. Answer - we home-school our kids and they love it. Well, actually, my wife Debbie does most of the homeschooling. And right now we have a tudor named Donald who is traveling with us and helping to teach.

We have actually done this "families on the road" thing a fair bit. Our first motorhome was in California in the early 90's. We bought a 1969 Ford based camper van for $2400 and lived in it while I studied at Fuller Seminary in California. In 1998, we traveled around USA in a boring white van, sleeping at National Parks in a tent. A church in Florida took pity on us (Spanish River) and gave us a ten year old Winnebago that was donated to them and all of a sudden we were back to full time life on the road.

Those were great times! In 1999, we covered 25,000 miles around USA, going to almost every state. My job was to help start and encourage new church movements among America's urban youth so it turned out to be a very efficient and economical way of getting around. We went to all the states except the Dakotas.

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