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Have you finally managed to save up enough vacation time to really take off and spend some consecutive days away from the workplace? If so, the idea of how one combines “green” and “vacation” has probably crossed your mind more than once. Obviously the idea of hopping in a jet plane and then bouncing across cities, draining energy in hotels and supporting restaurants with a less than optimum focus on green practices would do little to say “Hey, I’m a green advocate!” However, you also shouldn’t feel trapped within your own home for fear of creating some un-measurable carbon footprint just by enjoying yourself on vacation. Here are some easy ideas on how to plan a green vacation.
1) Stay “closer” to home. While I’m not saying don’t leave your living room, I will suggest staying within a 100-150 mile radius. It’s also worth considering renting a more eco-friendly car for the purpose of the trip. If you opt for a hybrid instead of an SUV, you can potentially cut your carbon footprint in half.
2) Consider taking public transportation whenever possible, including: buses, trains, ferries, subways, etc. Trains happen to be one of the most eco-friendly ways to travel. You can cut CO2 by as much as 85% by traveling via train in lieu of an airplane.
3) If staying in a range close to home simply isn’t an option, nor is traveling via train (admittedly, I too dream of a tropical beach), then take the plane, but consider purchasing credits to offset some of your carbon emissions. Both Travelocity and Expedia now allow you to purchase the offset right along with your tickets! Super easy to do, and you can arrive without any guilty feeling… Major plus!
If Staying Home
1) Staying in the area doesn’t mean you have to stay within your home and twiddle your thumbs. Check out new museums, visit local attractions you’ve never had the time to see, go to the zoo. Think of the things you enjoy most about vacation. If it’s the new food, then commit to picking and trying a new restaurant every day. We’re incredibly fortunate in this day and age to be able to get genuine food from all types of cuisine within our own cities. If it’s the escape from media and communication with the outside world, then re-create that at home: turn off the computers and the TVS, unplug the landline, hide the cell phones and tell yourself you are on vacation and don’t need to know anything until you “come back.”
Camping by Lake
2) Go explore. Drive/bike/walk, etc. to the nearest place where you can really discover some nature. Go hiking, kayaking, boating, skiing, etc., whatever it is that interests you and that you can make happen at a nearby area. If none of those apply, try escaping to something like a botanical garden for a day.
3) Find a B&B in your area. You don’t actually have to travel around the globe to check yourself into a get-away location and be pampered and spoiled. You might think it sounds silly to rent something close to home, but if you need that “get-away” to really feel on vacation, then do it! You’ll save tons of expense in travel, and you’ll get some of the same vacation feel.
4) Reconnect with nature. Consider a camping trip! There’s almost no better way to escape, to relax and to re-create that passion and zest for why we try to live in all the sustainable ways that we do. All you need is your tent and the great outdoors.
If Going Abroad
1) Consider a vacation that has a purpose beyond simply entertaining yourself. Look into something like a global volunteer project. Search out the area you dream of heading to and see how you can get your hands dirty, so to speak. Serve the local community by helping to build a house, or get involved in community development, helping children, animal welfare, poverty, etc.
2) Search for green and eco-friendly hotels and bed and breakfasts. There are countless lodging options where the motto is to conserve resources and cut down on waste. Ask if they are part of the Green Hotel Initiative, and check out GHI for yourself to see how you encourage hotels to go greener.
3) Do your own part. Turn down the temperature in your hotel room. Ask that your sheets and towels not be changed every day. Walk and bike instead of driving – you’ll get a better feel for your destination! Eat locally. Consider bringing back “souvenirs” made by locals that help support sustainability.
By Tara Alley
Tara Alley is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about living a more eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle. She is currently working alongside Coffee Home Direct, researching organic, fair-trade green coffee.