Warm weather, family, friends and the big world begging to be explored are the perfect ingredients to push you to make summer vacation plans. Where ever you decide to venture this summer going in an eco-friendly fashion might be a little easier than you think. Below are a few tips to help make your trip eco-friendly and possibly save you some green.
1) Leave Out the Lay Overs – Take a direct flight – If you can catch a direct flight you will be traveling less miles and cutting down on the amount of times you are taking off and landing. Almost 50% of a plane’s carbon emissions are released during take off and landing! Cutting down on the amount of stops will start and end your trip in an eco-friendly way.
2) Check in Online – When it comes to checking in with on an airline, bus or train most companies have a paperless or print your own ticket option. Taking advantage of these options will allow you to control the waste that your ticket creates. Most airline tickets are made with a chemical coating that cannot be recycled. On Delta they offer a mobile ticket option that is entirely paperless. All you have to do is request an e-boarding pass during the online check-in process. A ticket is then sent to your e-mail as a QR code and is your official ticket at security and the ticket counter.
3) Pack Light – Whether you’re taking it on a plane, train or automobile moving heavy luggage always requires more energy. If it’s possible to do without that extra outfit leave it behind. Packing less will also help you save some green by avoiding oversized luggage fees.
4) Bring a Luggage Scale – To go with tip number 2, you never know what you’re going to buy when you are on vacation but it all still needs to fit in the bag you brought. In order to avoid guessing your luggage weight, know before you get to the counter with a portable luggage scale. One of the best luggage scales on the market now is the Balanzza Mini Scale. It’s easy to use, light and will help find out if you have room for that extra souvenir.
5) Pump Up Those Tires – If you’re hitting the road, start your journey by make sure your tires are inflated and that all parts of your vehicle are in good working condition. Damaged parts and flat tires are the first culprits for bad gas mileage. Using less gas with help you reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the cost of the trip with rising gas prices over the summer.
6) Keep the Amount of Left Hand Turns to a Minimum – This tip might seem a little impractical and ridiculous, but it could make for a fun road trip game. Left hand turns create more gas emissions because of the need to sit idle at a traffic light or corner to make a turn. If possible try and find a route that uses the least amount of left hand turns. To cut back on costs, UPS has been doing this for years! In 2007 the company reduced their CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons and reduced their travel distance by 28.5 million miles.
7) Use a Green Map – Before hitting the road or walking around on the town check out http://www.greenmap.org/ for directions. The maps on this website pinpoint eco-friendly areas such as organic farmers markets, playgrounds, National Parks, Wi-Fi locations (which makes all the difference when you are looking for directions in a foreign country) and land mark restaurants.
8) Plan a Trip to a National Park or Forest – Spending time outdoors is a great way to conserve energy while on vacation. There are plenty of naturally beautiful places to chose from in the United States and abroad that have low entry fees and amazing scenery. For a few ideas check out Forbes Magazine’s list of “The Worlds Most Beautiful National Parks”.
9) Don’t Go Too Far Off the Beaten Path – If you chose to go on a vacation and have the opportunity to hike, definitely take advantage of the great outdoors. The only rules to keep in mind are to be respectful of nature and STAY ON THE TRAIL. The trails are made for a reason and may meander hikers in certain directions to protect endangered spices of plants, animal habitats or dangerous areas for hikers. If everyone wandered off the trail the natural scenery that we love and enjoy might not last much longer.
10) Trade in the rental car for a two wheeler – Whether you’ve decided to take a city, beach or country side vacation bikes are always a great way to travel and take in the scenery. Taking this mode of transportation might take little longer but you will be out in the fresh air with more time to observe all that’s around you. The health benefits of biking are endless and the amount of energy you can conserve will make you the ultimate green traveler.
11) Explore with Public Transportation – This tip maybe more realistic on a vacation to a major city or tourist area, but looking into public transportation at your destination is always a good idea. Usually public transportation systems have stops or shuttles that will take you to main attractions. One website that is helpful for traveling in North America is HopStop.com (an app is also available for your mobile device). This website will give you point to point instructions on how to travel in most major cities in US, Canada and select European countries.
12) Stay in a Green Hotel – Sustainable construction and eco friendly practices are being embraced in every industry, hospitality included. When planning your trip look into hotels and resorts that support sustainable efforts or are built to be green. Some websites that will help you find eco-friendly hotel options are travelocity.com, ichotelsgroup.com and istaygreen.org. For other green hotel tips, Eco18 writer Alana will be sharing the top green hotels on Eco18 later this month.
13) Housekeeping?… No Thank You – The luxuries of house keeping are very nice on vacation however they are not completely necessary. Cutting down on the amount of times you allow house keeping in your room will reduce the use of clean chemicals and the electricity that would be used during the process.
14) Eat Local. – This tip is not only for those who would like an eco friendly vacation, but for any traveler looking to experience local culture. No matter where you travel, there is always that edible treat that is “the best” or is well known for something that you have to try. It may take a little research or asking a friendly local where the best places are however the reward will come shortly after. Once you get there your taste buds, stomach and carbon footprint will all thank you. When you eat local or food that is grown in a nearby region, you are reducing the amount of gas emissions used during transportation.
15) Split Meals with a Travel Buddy – Often times, especially in the good old USA, portions at restaurants are a lot larger than they need to be. If you and a friend are thinking of getting the same thing, consider splitting the meal if the portion size allows. If you were at home you might be able to take the left overs and reheat them for lunch the next day, but on vacation that might not be an option. Hopefully after splitting a meal there will not be any food left behind and enough money in your pocket for you to split dessert.
16) BYOB – Bring Your Own (water) Bottle – This should be a habit that we all get into, but when away from home we forget the little things, like how we often get thirsty. Stopping by up local convenience store for a bottle of water is the usual move when you’re on vacation. In order to make quenching your thirst a little more green, pack a reusable water bottle. You will improve your carbon footprint by reducing plastic waste.
17) Research Before You Arrive – Research! Research! Research! Once the flight is booked and your hotel accommodations are made, learn a little bit about your destination. Look up information on travel websites, rent books from the library and ask friends. The more you research, you will be able to find easier and greener ways to have wonderful vacation.
18) There’s an app for that – In a world of smartphones and tablets there is an app for almost anything. Using apps will cut down on the amount of print outs that you bring and travel books that you buy. All in all apps will make the bag lighter, reduce paper waste and give you a data base of information. Below are a few must have apps for the green traveler:
TripIt – This app organizes confirmation numbers, maps and other traveler information to help your trip go as smoothly as possible. All you have to do is forward the confirmation e-mails and information to your TripIt account. After that, you will be able to review your itinerary anywhere in the world. http://www.tripit.com/uhp/mobile
TripAdvisor – The TripAdvisor website is a great resource for any traveler. The site provides reviews of local attractions, forums with traveler questions, guides and lists of must see attractions in cities around the world. To have this tool on the go is a little easier and greener than dragging around travel books.
Google Translate – For our passport-stamping traveler, Google Translate is a great app to help you ditch the “1001 Sayings You Need to Know” book and communicate with the locals. This app allows you to translate via text or voice (with an upgraded plan)