Sustainable Travel Tips: What You Can Do to Lessen your Impact

The phrase “I’m on vacation” has long been used as an excuse to do things you would otherwise feel guilty for in your everyday life. Because let’s face it, we love living in excess and indulgence. However, a little planning goes a long way if you want to lessen your impact while traveling. Here are three of the easiest ways to go green without significantly changing your lifestyle for the heftiest environmental savings. You should feel good about enjoying yourself; you’re on vacation after all.

1. Carry a reusable water bottle  

Water bottles are notorious for being among the most wasteful and toxic to the environment. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that 30 billion water bottles were purchased in 2005 and at a recycle rate of only 13 percent, that means 26 billion water bottles sit cluttering up landfills. Luckily for us, the last decade has seen an explosion of trendy, high quality reusable water bottles that come in all shapes, sizes, materials and price points. Just make sure you empty those liquids before trying to get through the security checkpoint.

2. Opt for environmentally-friendly accommodations

 It has never been easier to pick an eco-friendly hotel and online travel websites make it accessible and affordable to do so. Expedia.com partners with the non-profit Sustainable Travel International so that you can browse green hotels by destination. And with 2236 in all, this is clearly a trend that’s on the up and up. Orbitz.com even created a list with their own critiera, including the use of natural energy sources (wind and solar) and items that are green or conserve energy. Even if you don’t stay at a specific hotel with sustainability programs, it’s just as easy to tell the hotel or housekeepers that you don’t need your towels or linens cleaned every day.

3. Travel by train

Long lines, expensive tickets and aggressive TSA workers --as if you need more reasons to shy away from airports. But here’s one that will stick with your conscience: airplanes make up 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. NPR estimates that an airplane going across the U.S. produces three tons of carbon dioxide per person. The same trip by car would mean twice as much in pollution, while the same trip by train would produce only half that of the airplane. While planes are a necessary evil for avid travelers, consider your options for shorter trips inside the same continent. You may just discover that being green comes with significant cost savings too!

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