When you embark on your holiday travel or winter vacations, consider these 10 eco travel tips to lessen your impact on the environment while still enjoying the sites and scenes.
Before You Go
Reduce energy usage at home while your away. Give away food that could go bad and turn down the refrigerator. Also unplug appliances including coffee pots, televisions. Lower the settings on your water heater and thermostat.
Plan ahead for sun protection. If you will be snorkeling or diving, purchase UV protecting swim shirts and other clothing to protect yourself without using sunscreens that damage coral reefs and local waters. If you must use sunscreen, select a biodegradable brand and buy it in advance as you might not find it where you’re going.
Find an eco-friendly hotel or tour operator. This is not difficult to do these days as the options are very broad but asking a few questions in advance can help you get the eco travel features you’re looking for and the comforts you need.
During Your Trip
Use sheets and towels for two or three days. Everyone likes clean linens but an amazing amount of water can be saved each year if more people asked that they not be refreshed daily. Ask the hotel upon check in about their policies and have your wishes added to your file right then.
Recycle. If it’s not obvious, ask the hotel where to put your recyclables and don’t assume that they will be sorted if you place them in or near the trash. If there isn’t in-room recycling, ask where in the hotel you can take your recyclables to be sure they don’t end up in the trash.
Turn off the lights and heat/air-conditioner when you leave the room. It won’t take long for things to get comfortable again when you return and it will save energy and maybe even keep the cost of future stays down.
Use your feet. In most places you will see so much more if you walk rather than rent a car or take a cab. When possible use public transit to get around in cities. Renting a bike is another great option and one that is becoming increasingly easy to do. And, if you must rent a car choose a small or hybrid vehicle whenever possible.
Stay on the trail and off the dunes. Human footprints can damage the ecosystem and cause excess erosion. Stick to the designated areas for hiking, biking, or dog walking (and be sure to pick up after your pet).
Buy local. Visit local artisans and shops and ask where products are made before you buy them. support the local economy so it will prosper and bring home wonderful eco-friendly memories. If you want a guided tour find a local tour guide to get a closer view of the area and even some behind the scenes tips for the rest of your stay.
Take photos and memories. Never take local flora or fauna or found artifacts from your destination.
Photo credits: Flickr/Lasse C, Sean MacEntee