Green Travel, the concept of travel with a concern for the wellness of the planet, is one that destinations and members of the travel industry are becoming increasingly committed to. Read on for some tips to ensure that your next trip betters both you and the environment.
Tips to help you travel green on your next vacation or holiday
Before leaving for your trip:
- Research “green” accommodations. Inns, hotels and resorts are increasingly introducing “eco-friendly” features such as recycling, energy and water conservation programs. Look up hotels that have LEED (Leadershp in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System for additional help.
- Ask as many questions as you need to before booking a hotel. Doing some investigation will help you make an informed and environmentally-conscious decision.
- Some home appliances drain electricity even when they’re not in use. Unplug TVs, microwaves, computers and other devices before leaving on a trip. Lower your thermostat if you’re taking off on a winter getaway and turn off the air conditioning while you’re away in the summer.
- Air travel is the area where most travellers have the biggest impact on the environment. While some airlines are trying to minimize the damage their planes do, (U.S. Southwest Airlines recently announced it would be testing a “green plane”) long flights are still a huge source of fuel emissions. When and where possible, taking the train instead of flying (think places like Europe, where train service is frequent and fast) might be a good alternative.
- Book direct flights when you can. A direct route uses less fuel, and fewer take-offs and landings mean less overall emissions.
- At your destination, use public transportation instead of a rental car or taxi. Better yet, walk or bike – it’s a great way to keep fit, save money and get to know your surroundings.
- If you need to rent a car, choose the smallest vehicle that can accommodate you comfortably, or consider renting a hybrid car.
At your hotel:
- It’s easy to switch into “hotel zone” when you’re on vacation and exempt from a heating or water bill. As you would at home, remember to keep your showers short and turn off lights, TV, and air conditioning when you leave the room.
- Ask about your hotel’s recycling program and sort your trash accordingly.
- Re-use your sheets and towels instead of having them replaced each day. Neatly folding and hanging your used towels generally signals that you’d like them left there, or, you can leave a note for the housekeeping staff or notify the front desk.
- Pack your own toiletries instead of using the prepackaged ones provided.
- Recycle any used guidebooks or maps by giving them to other travelers at the end of your trip, or by leaving them at the hotel for future guests.
- Finally, give your hotel (as well as your airline and tour companies) feedback. Managers of most businesses will respond and react to comments from customers, guests and clients. Whether it’s a commendation or a request for change, your feedback will be noted.
Out and about:
- Travel with an environmentally-conscious tour group. Do your research before you sign up with any particular tour company.
- When hiking, stick to marked trails and be sure to take any trash with you when you leave.
- Take only photographs – no “souvenirs” from natural areas – and skip the disposable camera; while seemingly harmless, they take tons of energy to make, only to get dumped after one use.
- When possible, choose local products over those that have been shipped in from overseas. Not only will this practice help to support the local economy, but it will enhance your travel experience, too.
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