Going on vacation is supposed to be a lot of fun! Unfortunately, in today’s well-informed world, that’s not so easy. If you are worried about your carbon footprint every time you go on vacation, you may start choosing to stay home instead.
Don’t feel like the only way to be kinder to the environment is to stay home. You can still take vacations! You just have to arm yourself with tips and tricks on how to be eco-conscious when you’re on vacation, no matter where your travels take you.
Drive Instead of Flying
If you’re traveling overseas, you may have to fly, but if you’re staying a little closer to home, you would do best to hop in the car instead. Even if you are traveling alone, taking a car is still better than flying domestically or internationally when you also consider secondary effects, like releasing nitrogen oxides into the air at high altitudes. Your emissions savings are even better if you’re riding in a car with other passengers, o an electric-car.
Not only is driving better for the environment than flying in an airplane, it also provides you with the ability to see and do more while you’re on vacation. Driving enables you to discover hidden gems in California, for example, as well as make stops in unexpected places you would have missed if you were up in the air.
You don’t want to go on vacation and discover you left something important at home. Because that’s a common fear, many people over-pack, but that isn’t the best thing for the environment.
The more bags you pack, the heavier you make the airplane, and the more fuel it has to use. The same is also true in a car, even if you have more space for more of your stuff. The heavier your car is, the more often you will have to stop to fill up the tank.
Instead, pack light when you go on vacation. Leave the rolling suitcases at home and use space saving bags to pack a duffel bag or a backpack instead. If you are driving your car on vacation, go through the trunk and the backseat, getting rid of anything you don’t need. The lighter you travel, the lighter your impact on the environment.
Pack Green Toiletries
Love those little shampoo bottles in the hotel? Although they are cute and they are convenient, they are terrible for the environment. After just one or two uses, they end up in the garbage.
Instead of relying on your hotel to provide you with toiletries, pack them yourself. When you do, you can make environmentally-friendly choices.
Zero-waste toiletries are increasing in popularity, and for good reason. Without plastic wrappings, they are much better for the environment. Not to mention, they are much easier to travel with because items that are traditionally sold in liquid form can now be found as solids!
A few zero-waste toiletries you may want to consider include:
- Dry shampoo
- Conditioner bars
- Reusable makeup remover pads
- Chewable toothpaste
- Wooden toothbrush
Lower Your Energy Consumption at Home
You will use a lot less energy at home when you aren’t there, but are you using more than you should? If you didn’t take time to walk through your home and turn things down before you leave, you will definitely be using more than necessary.
Unplugging devices is a good start, but there are even better things you can do. For example, your water heater and refrigerator use a lot of energy. Turn up your fridge one or two notches and turn down the temp on your water heater while you’re away.
Don’t forget your thermostat! Reprogram it while you’re gone to keep your home’s temperature consistent. That way it isn’t warming things up or cooling things down because it expects you to be getting home after work.
Reuse Towels and Sheets in Your Hotel Room
It’s nice to have someone else do the laundry for a change, but that doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Washing towels and sheets uses a lot of water and a lot of energy that isn’t really necessary if you’re staying in the same room multiple nights in a row.
Decline to have your towels and bedding washed every day to save some resources. Many hotels provide cards that you can display in your room declining a wash. If your room doesn’t have these cards, leave your own note for the housekeepers before you take off for the day.
Fast food may be convenient, but it sure does create a lot of waste! Try not to be in a hurry when you’re on vacation so you have plenty of time to sit down and eat, whether you’re at a restaurant or ordering a meal in your room.
When you eat in instead of on the go, you’re more likely to use glass or ceramic cups, plates, and metal utensils that can be washed instead of plastic and paper that will be used for a few minutes and then discarded in the trash.
Pay Attention to the Rules in Nature Areas
Different areas have different rules for travelers. If you’re in a natural area, many of those rules have to do with being kinder to the environment. Listen to them.
For example, some sunscreens can contribute to the destruction of coral reefs. If you plan on snorkeling, make sure you choose a reef-safe sunblock. Dispose of your garbage in the proper receptacle when you’re camping, and stay on designated trails when walking in the woods. Do your research before you leave home to discover the rules that you will have to follow when you arrive at your destination.
Don’t stay home instead of going on vacation because you worry about what your trip will do to the environment. There are ways you can explore the world while treading lightly so you don’t feel guilty about contributing to global warming.
Cover image: photo by Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash