Traveling is the best way to experience new cultures and get away from the day-to-day grind. Unfortunately, most methods of travel require a lot of energy, which contribute to your trip’s carbon footprint. If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug but are concerned about conserving energy, check out these 10 green travel tips.
1. Consider alternate modes of transportation. Before you begin your trip, determine the best way to get to your destination. Flying is a popular choice, but also has the largest carbon footprint. Cars and trains use much less energy and often cost less than a plane ticket. If traveling through Europe, consider its well-known train system, which runs often and covers much of the continent.
2. Use public transportation. Once you arrive at your destination, look into the city’s public transportation system. Many cities, like New York, have extensive bus, subway and train networks that can take you just about anywhere. Not only will taking the subway conserve energy, but also driving in New York is less efficient due to the dense traffic and lack of parking.
3. Rent a fuel efficient car. When public transportation isn’t an option, you can still minimize your carbon footprint by renting a fuel efficient vehicle. Ask whether the rental service offers hybrid electric vehicles to conserve energy and gas money.
4. Walk or ride a bike. In many destination cities, you’ll be visiting sites within a small area. If the weather’s nice, skip the cab ride and walk. Some cities also offer bike rentals, which can be cheaper than cab fare and more fun for exploring.
5. Choose a green hotel. When making reservations, ask whether the hotel has measures in place to conserve energy and reduce its carbon footprint. Websites like Independenttraveler.com offer lists of eco-friendly lodging sites to help with your search.
6. Conserve energy in your hotel room. Since you’re not responsible for the utility bills at your hotel, it may be tempting to take an hour-long shower with unlimited hot water, or to blast the air conditioning. However, be mindful of your energy use when staying in a hotel.
7. Bring your own toiletries. To reduce waste, bring a toothbrush, soap and cups. Leave the complimentary items for the next guest if you have your own.
8. Buy local products. When shopping for souvenirs and supplies, make an effort to purchase locally produced items. You can greatly reduce your carbon footprint by buying goods that haven’t traveled 3,000 miles to get to you.
9. Find farmers’ markets for meals and snacks. Many cities have local markets where you can find locally grown fruits and vegetables, and locally raised meat. Not only will you help conserve energy that would otherwise be spent transporting food to a grocery store, but also you’ll support the local economy, meet local residents and likely find some of the best food and ingredients in the area.
10. Be mindful of your environment. The last green travel tip has to do with your direct impact on the environment. When hiking through woods or up a mountain, stay to the trails to avoid trampling indigenous plants or disturbing wildlife. If you’re snorkeling or scuba diving, don’t touch the fragile coral reefs. By being mindful of your surroundings to reduce your environmental impact.