5 Ways to Go Green and Sustainable When You Travel Aug 8, 2017 by Deena (Awesome Escape Blogger)

Travel is good for the soul and for the mind, opening our eyes to new ways of thinking and the beauty all around us that we should protect and share. It’s just common sense to protect and conserve the planet for other travelers. Unfortunately, traveling isn’t the most eco-friendly activity. The transportation sector is a big contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, but there are ways to mitigate your impact on the environment without hampering your overall experience. The good news is that it’s possible to reduce your carbon footprint when you travel and stay sane in the process. Here are five ways to keep your travel as eco-friendly as possible.

1. Planning and Packing

The key to eco-friendly travel is to pack light. Remember, the more weight planes, trains, and automobiles carry the more fuel they use, and the more carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere. Also, don't forget to toss in a recyclable shopping bag in the suitcase, and keep a reusable water bottle handy for quick fill-ups. This will help you reduce your plastic waste. Also, before you leave on your trip turn off and unplug all lights and electronics. This may sound like nothing to you, but recent studies have revealed that electricity production is the leading source of greenhouse gasses. So turn off the thermostat and the water heater if you’re not going to be there to use them—it all adds up over the days, weeks, and months.

2. Choose Green Transport

Air travel may be a convenient and luxurious way to get around, but it produces more carbon emissions than other forms of transport. Train travel, on the other hand, has a low carbon footprint, so if you don't mind taking some extra time to reach your destination, consider booking a ticket. Traveling by train also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery, skip the security lines, and arrive downtown right at your destination. If you need to travel by air overseas or across the country (which we understand), book your flight with airlines that take reasonable steps to eliminate waste and recycle whenever possible. If you are planning to travel by road, you can either rent a hybrid vehicle or hop on a bus. The latter is a definite money-saver, and a great way to view the countryside, and even bond with locals on the way.

3. Eco-Friendly Destinations

The easiest way to have an eco-friendly vacation is to stay at a green hotel, or more generally, a hotel or other destination that is taking real steps to minimize waste. An eco-lodge or a green hotel manages to incorporate sustainable working practices in their day-to-day operations without compromising their comfort. Typically, there are plenty of certification programs that assess and rate hotels based on their environmental impacts. It's easy to get an idea of the hotel company's environmental ethics, just call them up to ask questions like: is the hotel operated by local employees? How does the hotel recycle its trash? Are there any recycling programs? Another great option is Airbnb, as it hosts some eco-friendly rentals.

At the hotel, adopt simple yet effective measures to reduce energy use. Take short showers, and close the tap while shaving and brushing your teeth. (It’s also good to do this at home!) It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re visiting another country and using their local water supplies, and you don’t know if their water sources or wastewater treatment programs are any good. Additionally, turn off the lights, air-conditioning, and heater whenever you leave the room, and if you are staying for several nights, use the same sheets and towels instead of getting them washed or changed every day.

4. Sustainable Activities

Get the most out of your destination by taking a long walk or hike, and the best part is that it's green too! Hiking along marked trails allows you to get one with Mother Nature and inhale some fresh air while reducing your carbon footprint in the process. Just don't veer off the designated trails, and maintain your distance from any animals you meet in the journey. Also, you can avoid one-on-one trips and join large groups, and if you want to participate in an excursion, do shop around to locate the best green tour companies in the vicinity. Ask relevant questions regarding the company's environmental policies and the effects their tours have on flora and wildlife. Make sure you light campfires only in areas where it's permitted and ensure they are completely extinguished before leaving. When dining out, choose restaurants that use local produce only. And don't forget to carry your trash with you, or deposit it mindfully in marked receptacles.

5. Shop Local

Shopping is an essential part of every vacation. After all, who doesn't like bringing souvenirs and memoirs back home from their tours! Well, instead of checking in high-end retail stores that most probably import products from overseas, consider buying local products wherever possible. Check out the farmers' markets to buy supplies for your lunches or meals at a vacation rental if you have a kitchen, and purchase artsy souvenirs from local vendors and artisans. This way you can give back to the local community.

You don't have to go crazy if you want to reduce your carbon footprint. Follow these simple ways to keep your travel as eco-friendly as possible. If you are willing to go the extra mile, consider opting for a carbon-neutral vacation. This is a brand new travel option that is being sponsored by several companies, wherein you donate to conservation agencies to compensate for the emissions and energy use you created on your travel.

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