AUTHOR Caroline Eaton
Just because you’re going on vacation, that doesn’t mean you should take a vacation from your eco-friendly habits. Even away from the comfort of your own home, you can take steps to reduce your carbon footprint and be a good steward of the world around you.
Here are six easy ways to green your next vacation.
1. Make Smart Travel Plans
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, there are ways to choose greener transport. While air travel is the least eco-friendly option, book your flight with an airline such as Southwest, which is taking steps to eliminate excess waste and recycle as much as possible.
Train travel has a surprising low carbon footprint, so if you have extra time to arrive at your destination, it might be worth booking a ticket. Not to mention, traveling by train gives you the chance to really enjoy the scenery around you and take in the beauty of Mother Nature.
If you and your family plan to travel by road, consider renting a hybrid vehicle for the trip. This helps you reduce your gasoline usage, which, depending on the length of the trip, might actually make up for the cost of the rental itself.
2. Use Public Transportation
Once you arrive at your destination, stay at a hotel with easy access to public transportation, and hop on a subway or bus line to get where you need to go. Many hotels also offer access to hotel vans, which are a great alternative to renting a car if your hotel is in a centralized location with easy access to most tourist destinations.
3. Buy Local
Live like a local while vacationing, and buy local too. Check out farmers’ markets to purchase supplies for a picnic lunch, and choose souvenirs from local artisans and vendors. Not only are you supporting the area’s economy, but you’re reducing your carbon footprint because the goods you purchase aren’t being packaged and shipped from the corners of the earth.
4. Choose Hotels With Green Programs
Before you book your hotel, call the front desk and ask if they have a green program. Many hotels provide tips and resources to guests to reduce environmental impact while staying with them. Also, some hotels boast environmental memberships with organizations such as Green Seal or Green Leaf.
Regardless of whether or not your hotel has a green initiative, take it upon yourself to reduce waste. Turn off your lights and lower the thermostat before you leave your room. Let the front desk know you don’t need new towels every day, and seek out recycling bins for your recyclable waste.
5. Tour on Foot or by Bike
Skip the taxis and rental cars whenever possible. Immerse yourself in the city and hoof it from one place to another. Many cities offer cycling, walking, or running tours, so if you want to do the tourist thing, sign up for an option that supports the environment while enhancing your fitness.
When seeking out activities, look for nature-based options. Head to a nearby state park, or head down to the beach for a day of boogie boarding. One of the best ways to stay vigilant about protecting the world around you is to start enjoying it first.
6. Leave It Better Than You Found It
Don’t be complacent when on vacation – look at every day as an opportunity to improve your impact on the world. Pick up trash as you go, volunteer for a beach cleanup day, or donate cash to the city’s botanical garden. Support local efforts to improve the environment, and leave your vacation feeling good about your experience.
If you and your family are due for a vacation and you’re not particular about where you go, consider a camping trip or a “staycation” instead of heading to a far-off destination. The environmental cost of travel is high, regardless of how you take it, so staying close to home is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
How do you try to make your travel more sustainable?
Special thanks to our guest blogger Tom Boyd who writes about eco-friendly living, going green, and strategies to save money.