A standard family vacation tends to be somewhat less than environmentally friendly, when you think about it. Consider, for starters, the high eco-impact of transportation. Airplanes certainly get you from point A to point B the fastest, but they ratchet up your carbon debt almost exponentially. Then there are hotels to consider, and between the disposable items in every guest room, the massive amounts of water used to wash sheets and towels daily, sky-high electrical usage, and the less-than sustainable materials used to build and outfit properties, you can be sure that the waste and pollution involved with your stay is significant. Plus, you’ll no doubt find yourself renting a gas-guzzler to tour your environs, eating out for every meal, and generally increasing your carbon footprint with every activity. This can be a hard pill to swallow for the family committed to doing their part to protect the environment. But there are alternatives that will still let you have the fabulous family getaway you’ve been dreaming of, and 2013 is the year you can make a change for the better when it comes to your travel plans.
While you can’t exactly negate the impact of flying, there are a couple of options you can choose to make your transportation less harmful. For one thing, you can drive to your destination if it’s not too far (or over water). And if you have a fuel-efficient or otherwise eco-friendly vehicle, even better. But if you simply can’t avoid flying, or the drive is too long to fit with your limited time, at least consider choosing an airline that offers the largest aircraft available. It will use only slightly more fuel than smaller planes, but because of the greater number of passengers the efficiency goes way up. Then, when you reach your destination, look for a car rental company that offers eco-friendly options (like hybrid or electric cars) or look into mass transit for your transportation needs.
As for hotels, you might be surprised to learn that many chains are looking for ways to green up the works, reduce their carbon footprint, and cater to travelers seeking eco-tourism services. You can find available options for your destination on greenhotels.com, or use travel sites like Orbitz and Travelocity that offer green options for the budget-conscious traveler. With the eco-tourism industry growing, you may even be able to contact your travel agent and find all kinds of package deals that include transportation, lodgings, and activities that fit within your green ideals. And if all else fails, simply take a camping trip. Getting back to nature is a great way to get some R&R, cut your carbon footprint, save a little cash, and really reconnect with your family without all the distractions of the modern world.
Just because you found some Vegas deals doesn’t mean you have to hop on an airplane and head to Sin City. When you travel smarter you can do your part for environmental protection and often save some money in the process. So skip the greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and waste when planning your family vacations this year and you’ll have a cleaner, greener earth to show for it, along with years of awesome outdoor adventures to come.