Green Travel Tips
Eco Tourism, Eco Travel, Sustainable Travel, Responsible Traveling . . . there are many ways to define the environmentally (and culturally) conscious travel industry, but however you are interested in labeling yourself, the most important thing seems to be that more and more people are expanding their “green” habits beyond their own communities and taking it on the road with them when they travel, whether their heading to major cities, small, rural towns or to coastal villages. The basic concepts that all of these buzzwords seem to share, though, are a general concern for sustaining local communities and cultures, reducing each travelers destructive imprint on the earth and its ecosystem (think, “first do no harm”), and bringing awareness and understanding to the traveler about the location and its people, as well as sustainability and environmental issues in general.
Many of the things that one can do when traveling are similar to the habits you might already have in place at home (take shorter showers, turn out lights, recycle, and the like), but we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of things that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint while also enjoying your destination and getting the most out of your experience—not to mention most of these options are also cost-effective. Plus, exploring the greener side of any city will undoubtedly lead you off the beaten path, whether it’s finding locally-supplied restaurants or hotels, buying from local artisans and artists when you shop, or visiting a city’s natural amenities (like parks, trails, waterways, ect.). So, not only will traveling green help to alleviate the impact of your travels on the natural world, but it will also open your eyes to everything in a city that’s real, authentic, homegrown, and unique to that specific destination. And after all, isn’t that what exploring is all about?
1. First and foremost, practice respect for the local ecosystem, culture, and just general lay of the land. It may be common sense for most, but many people don’t think twice about ignoring these basic travel manners: pick up after yourself; be kind to the locals (learn a few keywords of their language if it’s different from your own); and don’t mess with the local animals (for example, don’t touch if your snorkeling, and if you’re on a hike, stay on the specified pathways).
2. Skip the car rental (go hybrid if you must) and opt instead for walking, biking, or public transportation. Many cities also offer eco-cabs or hybrid taxis, so do your homework before you travel to find out how to access them.
3. There are a host of websites out there that claim to offer a of list environmentally-friendly hotels. While this is a good place to start your search for a green hotel, don’t solely rely on one site for a recommendation as the criteria for what it means to be “green” varies from place to place. Instead, use these online resources as jumping-off points, after which you should contact your most promising options directly to find out specifically what all of their eco-friendly practices actually are. Here are a few of the most important things that you should ask of your hotel:
• First and foremost, ask for a detailed listing of their conservation efforts and energy practices. Oftentimes, hotels will now self-promote as “green” while only really implementing a few visible, popular practicing such as giving you the option to suspend your maid or towel service. Find out if what they are doing is merely to jump on the “go-green” pr bandwagon or if they are serious about cutting harmful, wasteful practices and spending.
• Recycling policy? Do they have it, and, if so, what are the guidelines for patrons?
• Try to stay in locally- or community-owned hotels—not only will you be supporting the local economy, but it’s also more likely that you’ll have a more personal, authentic experience.
• Ask for a list of their water-saving practices.
• Find out how many local vendors the hotel buys from—everything from food to linens to toiletries could be included here.
• Ask what kind of environmentally friendly products the hotel purchases and how they eliminate their waste.
4. In your hotel (preferably, your green hotel):
• Unplug everything
• Do without housekeeping if it’s a short stay
• Watch your lights, turn everything off when you leave
• Ask about your hotel’s recycling program. Many are happy to accommodate.
• Hang your towel and the maids are unlikely to take it.
• Bring your own toiletries.
• Take short showers
• Close blinds/curtains as much as possible and certainly when you leave
5. Use rechargeable batteries for your camera and other devices. Anyway, why not? You actually end up saving money by doing this.
6. Pack lighter—the lighter your load, the less your carbon footprint when you travel by car, air, bus, or train.
7. Shop locally for everything—souvenirs, food, clothing, ect.
8. Don’t buy bottled water continuously during your trip—resuse a stainless steel water bottle.
9. Time your travel with the climate: travel in moderate temperatures with long days so that you don’t use ac or heater and you can walk most places. Plus, in the spring and fall you’re more likely to find locally grown harvest.
10. Be a responsible traveler: as often as you can, choose to visit businesses, shops, restaurants, or cultural venues that benefit the local community, cultures, and the environment in some way.
11. Fly nonstop if you can afford it (or don’t fly at all).
12. If driving to your destination, travel at the speed limit, roll up the windows, remove any skyboxes, air tires before you leave—all of these practices will help to reduce your fuel emissions on the road.