Ten tips for being a green traveler
Just think small.
It may sound simplistic, but it’s the little things a traveler does before, during and sometimes after a trip that add up to an environmentally responsible, low-footprint, guilt-free vacation.
For the seriously green traveler, the process begins way before one boards a plane or sets foot on a cruise ship’s gangplank. Never mind whether an airline has updated its fleet to reduce carbon emissions or a cruise line has a moderern recycling system – destinations are often chosen based on a hotel’s, city’s or even country’s level of committment to sustainable tourism. Here are 10 quick tips for a greener getaway:
1. Choose your transportation wisely. If you’re flying, make sure a carrier has taken steps to reduce carbon emissions by investing in newer, fuel-efficient planes.
If you’re staying relatively close to home, look into taking a train or bus rather than driving. It may take a little longer, but you can use the extra time to rest, read, catch up on paperwork or – gasp! – talk to family members in much more comfortable surroundings, and without the usual airport hassles of security lines and delays.
2. Choose an eco-friendly hotel or resort. The latest trend in the hospitality industry is renovating existing structures and improving recycling and energy conservation systems to earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Searching such sites as environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com. or Travelocity.com’s green hotel directory will let you know whether a hotel is green or not.
3. Be a smart packer. Easier said than done, especially for families traveling with small children. But packing light isn’t just better for the environment – the heavier a plane’s cargo, the more jet fuel is consumed – it saves you money, too. Bringing just a carry-on means avoiding check-in fees. Especially if airlines begin charging for using the overhead bin, as Spirit now does.
4. Reduce your paper trail. Save some trees – and loads of cash – by downloading travel maps and guides through the hundreds of smartphone apps available, many of which are free.
5. Leave your home eco-friendly. Before embarking, turn down or shut off such energy-consuming devices as water heaters and air conditioners, and pull the plug on appliances and electronics.
6. Make your airport wait eco-friendly, too. Bring a snack from home rather than eating at a fast-food place at the terminal. You’ll save money and keep waste from plastic containers, cups and utensils to a minimum.
7. “Go” before you go. Using the bathroom at the terminal before you board is actually a totally green manuever – the mere act of flushing during a flight burns extra jet fuel.
8. Pretend your hotel is your home. Most people don’t change towels and bed sheets after just one use, so why do it at a hotel? And just like you would at home, turn off the lights, TV and a.c. when you leave the room.
9. Eat better by eating locally. Filling up at a familiar fast-food restaurant is tempting while on vacation – it’s often cheaper, and there are no surprises. It’s also wasteful, when you consider the amount of packaging and garbage that’s thrown out. Try smaller, privately-owned restaurants instead. It not only boosts the area’s economy, you’ll get a taste of the local culture, too.
10. Use public transportation instead of renting a car or hailing a cab.
Better yet, see the sights on two wheels – European cities such as London, Dublin and Paris have bicycle rental systems tailor-made for tourists. In Paris, renting a bike is automated: you drop a few coins in a box at one of hundreds of locations throughout the city, unlock a bike, and off you go.
Of course, there’s always walking – the perfect, and free, way to immerse oneself in a new culture. And green getaways aside, isn’t that what travel should be all about?