Green Choices for Summer Travel

When it comes to your daily routine, you have probably embraced all kinds of eco-friendly practices, such as the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), energy conservation, and of course, lower-emission modes of transportation. So when it comes time to plan your summer vacation, you probably want to carry on in this green capacity. And yet, you may be stymied by all the potential pollution that lies ahead when you fly to your destination and shack up in a hotel for a few days. You’ll face off-the-charts emissions from airplanes and rampant energy use at your commercial lodgings (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). So what can you do to get in your fun summer vacay without a cloud of guilt hanging over your head? Simple; follow some of these tips to plan a greener trip this season.

For starters, think about your many possible modes of transportation. You may have to travel by plane, train, car, or boat to get where you want to go, but which one is best? And how can you reduce your carbon footprint when you have to choose a less eco-friendly option? Although you might think a cruise will provide the greenest vacation, ocean liners are actually the worst offenders when it comes to pollution. Despite the fact that an all-inclusive vacation is pretty appealing to the person making the plans, consider the fact that a cruise ship has higher emissions than an airplane traveling the same distance, uses tons of energy, and dumps waste into both the water and every port of call. If you simply must hop aboard a cruise ship, at least choose a new model and sail out of California or Alaska, both of which have stricter environmental regulations concerning boats.

Of course, airplanes aren’t much better; a cross-Atlantic flight produces carbon emissions equal to every passenger’s yearly driving (combined). But you can find better ways to fly. First, you can plan your trip with only non-stop flights. Although you may pay a little more for doing less harm, you should know that planes burn the most fuel taking off and landing, so cutting even one such event out of your trip could drastically reduce the damage to the environment. You should also frequent airlines that are doing their part to embrace and eco-friendly attitude. American and Continental have both improved energy efficiency on their aircraft, which Virgin Atlantic is developing a jet that beats an SUV for fuel consumed in an hour of travel.

Trains are even better, requiring half the energy of planes, and of course, hybrid and electric vehicles are great if you have the option. The cleanest mode of transportation, as always, is hiking or biking, which causes zero emissions, but it may not be practical if you have kids in tow. And if you really want to spend some time on the water, think about going to a nearby lake with an oar-propelled canoe. You can seriously cut back on waste created during travel by staying close to home and going camping instead of booking a room at a hotel.

If you still want to see the world, check out the options for eco-tourism. A visit to the International Ecotourism Society website will not only give you helpful hints to make your travel plans greener, it will also provide you with eco-friendly destinations that will fulfill your desire to see an exotic locale while still reducing your carbon footprint.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for Mauritius Holidays where you can plan your next exciting vacation.