Maximize Your Vacation and Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

Ready to step out on a vacation, but worried about your carbon footprint? Don’t be.

There are several ways you can be kind to the environment while treating yourself to a fun, relaxing getaway. For starters, there are probably more eco-friendly or “green” options for vacation spots available now more than ever. Even for those traveling on a dime-thin budget, minimizing your carbon footprint is possible. Quality, affordability and eco-friendliness can co-exist. And “affordable” does not have to mean “cheap” or “low standards.”

Here are some ideas:

Cleans modes of transportation

One of the most eco-friendly forms of transportation, other than walking or running, is bicycling. While it may not be the way you go from home to your destination, perhaps renting a bike (or bringing one from home) can be a fun and healthy way to get around town while lowering your negative impact on the environment – and increasingly, some top-brand hotels have a fleet of bicycles on hand for guests.

If you are renting a car at your destination, or to get to your destination, consider renting an electric car. These types of cars are energy efficient, and there are charging stations in a lot of the larger communities.

Finding eco-friendly fun

Be environmentally and ecologically aware when choosing activities on your vacation. For example, go for a swim, windsurfing or canoeing instead of using a jet ski, which relies on fuel.

And, if you are thinking about a bus tour while on vacation, ditch the bus. Instead, take a tour via bicycle … or a walking tour. Check to see what tour options are available by contacting the visitor’s bureau or doing some online research when you are planning your trip.

If you are on a cultural tour, don’t take artifacts. If you are on a nature tour, don’t disturb the natural habits or take even a small pebble. You may not realize what impact such a small act could have on the ecology of that area. If you’re on a hike, try to stay on the marked trails to avoid disturbing the natural habits there. Staying on the marked trails will also keep you from getting lost!

Only pack the essentials

The more you store in a vehicle’s trunk or airplane cargo hold area, the lower the gas mileage on that vehicle or plane. Because of that, the travel will require the use of more gas and fuel. That takes a nasty toll on our energy resources.

So, pack lightly. Take only the essentials. For example, think about leaving your hair dryer behind if letting your hair air-dry is an option. The hair dryer takes up a lot of space, makes your luggage heavier, and it takes energy to run that dryer. Even if you must have a hair dryer, most hotels have hair dryers in the rooms. Be creative and find ways to lighten your load. Whoever is carrying those bags later will thank you, too!

Use biodegradable sunscreen

While sunscreen is a big help to humans by protecting us from harmful UV exposure, what is often forgotten (or isn’t common knowledge) is that sunscreen can be harmful to marine life when it washes off of humans in water. Use sunscreen that breaks down in seawater, and therefore, won’t hurt marine life.

Look for eco-friendly lodging

Eco-friendly hotels, motels, lodges, inns, and other accommodations – at every price point and service level – are out there. These establishments have found ways to operate using the fewest natural resources possible without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction … and without busting your budget.

“Using an excellent price-comparison online site or app, you can find a place to stay that satisfies your taste, your eco-friendly standards, and your budget,” said Chris Rivett, travel expert at HotelsCombined.

Reuse your towels and bedsheets

While most hotels will automatically supply your room with freshly laundered towels and bedsheets once a day, a lot of hotels are offering their guests the option of reusing towels and/or their bedsheets for an extra day, or for their entire stay.

Reusing your towels and linen, even if it’s just for one more day, reduces the washload – which reduces the amount of water used and reduces the harsh chemicals and pollutants that can come from some detergents.

Often times, there will be small placards on the desk, near the bed or in the bathroom offering the reuse option to guests and telling them how to leave the towels and sheets if they don’t want them changed. If you don’t see a placard about this, there’s nothing wrong with asking someone at the front desk about this.

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth

Running water while brushing your teeth, instead of waiting until you’re done brushing to rinse the sink and your mouth, is believed to be a big waste of water. It’s literally water going down the drain! If you’re one of the many people who already wait until after brushing to turn on the faucet for rinsing, why not do it while you’re on vacation?

So, go ahead. Take that vacation. If you plan wisely, and keep an eye on your carbon footprint, you can leave guilt behind.


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