11 Green Travel Resolutions for 2011
I’m always championing the green lifestyle. Why? I genuinely believe it’s healthier, better for the environment, and more fulfilling. But to be honest, even this eco-champion falls short of her own expectations from time to time.
That’s why I thought now would be the perfect time to reapply myself to traveling with a smaller footprint. Check out my 11 Green Travel Resolutions for 2011. Many of them are cheap, free, and easy to implement.
1) Stay Stateside: Lately I’ve fallen into a bad habit of heading abroad every single vacation. Sure, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest were nice, but what about my native soil? This year, I want to indulge in more domestic vacations–from weekend road trips to nearby destinations.
2) Get Outside: While I love to visit big cities, my soul is craving a little communion with the wild. This year I want to visit at least two national parks and get my brand-new hiking boots a little dirty. Almost nothing is greener (or cheaper) than a good, old-fashioned camping trip.
Me in Glacier National Park last year.
3) Bring the Bottle: I know, I know. It’s hard to remember and even I fail at this all the time. But I believe that if I can just make it a part of my packing routine, I can remember to do it. This year, I’m going to be better about packing a reusable water bottle.
4) Volunteer on Vacation: The best vacation I ever took was a volunteer vacation with our partner Globe Aware. While I might not be able to fit a full volunteer vacation into my busy schedule this year, I’m going to continue to look for small ways to give back when I travel.
Working in an Andean home on my volunteer vacation to Peru.
5) Set My Home to Vacation Mode: It’s easy to do but somehow I always forget. This year, before I hit the road I’m going to make sure that I’ve turned off all the lights in my apartment, unplugged all unnecessary appliances, turned off the thermostat, and set my fridge to vacation mode.
6) Conserve on the Go: I always participate in my hotel’s green initiatives–like the linen-reuse and trash-recycling programs–but this year I’m also going to be mindful of turning off all the lights and turning up the thermostat in my hotel room before I head out for the day.
7) Eat Local, Eat Less: For some reason on vacation I lose my mind when it comes to food. Even with all the walking, I usually gain at least five pounds. And you know what? This really doesn’t improve my vacation experience! This year, in addition to eating in local restaurants, I’m also going to eat a reasonable amount of food on vacation.
This is what needs to stop!
8) Go Paper-Free When Possible: One of the coolest things about owning a smartphone is that it can really help you conserve paper when you travel. Download a guidebook app from Lonely Planet, get a ski trail map app, read a book on your Kindle or Kindle app, or check in for your flight using a virtual boarding pass.
9) Disconnect and Reconnect: At first this one seems to conflict with #8, but I don’t think it has to. This year I’m going to try to really disconnect on vacation by resisting the urge to check my email and Twitter feed every five minutes and instead reconnect with the world around me–particularly Mother Nature.
10) Travel Lighter: Like many women, I have the tendency to overpack. I find myself thinking, But what if I really need these hot pink high heels?! The facts are, I won’t and they’ll just take up space in my bag. This year, I’m going to pack the bare minimum and give my back (and my carbon footprint) a break.
11) Skip the Mementos: 99% of the stuff I’ve bought people and myself on vacation has ended up in the landfill. It’s just the facts. This year I’m just going to take digital pictures to treasure after I return home and share with others.
More pictures, less junk!
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My name: Alison Presley
Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.
How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!
What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannelés, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.
Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.