For many people, the occasional getaway isn’t just a luxury; it’s an absolute must. The thrill of uncertainty–of new scenery and fresh faces–promises to break us from the mundane patterns of everyday life. Amid the ecstasy of departure, it’s easy to lose sight of simple responsibilities, like reducing our carbon footprint. But no matter where we end up, the impact that our daily activities have on the environment doesn’t change.
Some might be tempted to abandon eco-friendly habits out of convenience, or to save money. Luckily for them, staying green while traveling is oftentimes easier and cheaper than traveling wastefully. Here are a few tips on how to have the adventure of a lifetime, while keeping the environment in mind.
Packing and Travel Prep
Traveling green doesn’t start once you’re on the road; it begins with knowing what to pack, and how to prepare your home for an extended period of emptiness. Knowing what to bring along is as simple as considering what you’ll actually need, and keeping luggage as light as possible: the less weight your form of transport has to carry, the less fuel it will use. A refillable water bottle and a cloth shopping bag are good additions as well. Home prep steps include recycling the packaging of any new products you bought for the trip, unplugging electronics and switching heat/AC temperatures from comfort settings to just those necessary to protect your home from frost or from overheating. If you have a newspaper subscription, putting it on hold will save paper and also make it less obvious that the home is empty. Most home water heaters also now have a “vacation” setting.
Buses generally emit the least amount of carbon per passenger. According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average car trip produces 1.17 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger per mile, while traveling by bus produces a full pound less. At .41 pounds per passenger mile, trains are an eco-friendly option as well. Plane travel is by far the most environmentally expensive option, producing 1.83 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger mile. This means that when possible, It’s best to travel by bus or train. If traveling by air is the only viable option, aim for non-stop flights. Certain airlines have modified their planes to be more fuel efficient; a quick google search can reveal an airline’s environmental policies.
Once You’re There
Most hotels practice some form of conservancy, whether it’s developing an efficient recycling program, or any number of energy-reducing practices. No matter where you end up staying, it helps to stick to tried-and-true green habits, like keeping showers short, and turning off the TV and lights when you leave. When you’re out, stay green by using public transportation, shopping at family-owned stores, and eating locally sourced food.
It is very possible to enjoy your vacation while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Not only will you be saving yourself money with an environmentally-friendly trip, you also be helping the environment.