Whether you’re making a yearly jaunt to your family’s favourite locale or discovering an exotic destination for the first time, you want to make memories without having a negative impact on another community. For many, this means travelling “green,” but you might not be sure what that entails or know where to begin. The process of lessening your traveller’s carbon footprint begins at home and ends with you finding more eco-friendly ways to see the sights, dine and find lodging.
Before You Leave
The process of travelling responsibly begins long before you decide whether or not to rent a car or visit any of the best Rome hotels on foot, for example. It only takes a few minutes to prep your home before you walk out the door, so while you’re watering the plants, here are a few more ways to start your green vacation off on the right foot:
- Unplug almost everything. It’s not a great idea to unplug the refrigerator, but just about everything else, from your television to your computers, should be taken off the grid before leaving.
- Turn off the icemaker. Many overlook this simple step, which not only saves electricity, but could also prevent a costly flood if the unit breaks.
- Send your water heater on holiday. Many modern water heaters come equipped with a vacation switch, which helps conserve water. If your home features an older model, turn it to the lowest setting instead.
Finding Eco-Conscious Lodging
Depending on your destination, there might be several hotels that label themselves “green,” meaning they employ some cost-saving and environmentally friendly technology, including solar panels. Chances are your hotel won’t harness the power of the sun to keep the lights on, so instead consider these green amenities before booking a room:
- Recycling. Inquire about the hotel’s recycling program and ask for specifics. Try to find lodging that believes in recycling almost anything, including plastic, paper and even water.
- Policy on towels and sheets. Many hotels insist on changing the dirty sheets and towels daily. Inquire if you’re allowed to save on electricity and water by reusing your linens and towels.
- Green technologies. Once again, you might come across a hotel that’s at least partially powered by wind or solar energy. More realistically, inquire if the rooms feature low-flow toilets, high-efficiency lighting and other environmentally friendly technologies.
Getting From Point A to Point B
In the past, your first instinct upon entering a strange city would have been to find the nearest car rental stand in an effort to avoid getting lost; however, this rarely helps, and really all you’re doing aside from increasing pollution and wasting a non-renewable energy source is missing out on an opportunity to enjoy the city’s sounds and people. From the flight to getting around, there are several ways to save money while you stay green.
- Take a non-stop flight. It might cost you a little extra to avoid layovers, but it’s well worth the extra money to save on fuel, not to mention significantly cutting down your time stuck in an airplane.
- Take the train. If you’re travelling a country extensively, take a train instead of renting a car. At the very least, the experience will be more comfortable and maybe even romantic.
- Rent a bike. Traffic congestion is a universal issue, so instead of getting frustrated, tour the sites while saving your sanity and the environment by biking. If bikes aren’t your thing, the best alternative is relying on your own two feet.
While Seeing the Sites
Even the smallest movement or gesture can have a profound impact on some of man’s and Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations. When it comes to visiting well-known sights responsibly, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Hiking. If you’re hiking, always remember to treat this foreign location as you would a cherished local park. Throw your trash in the garbage and if building a fire, make sure it’s out completely before you leave.
- Snorkeling. If snorkeling near a coral reef is on the agenda, please keep your hands to yourself and don’t disturb this wonderfully complex ecosystem.
- Buy local. Support the community by purchasing goods made by local artisans and foods manufactured or grown organically and locally.
Enjoying an eco-friendly tour of any major city doesn’t require much extra planning or expense. It’s all about making informed, common-sense choices and treating every city like it’s your own. Do this, and the world’s treasures will be around for future generations to enjoy.