Earth Week: 6 Ways to Minimize Your Vacation Footprint
Editor’s Note: It’s Earth Week on the blog! In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, The Window Seat editors are blogging about our favorite ways to go green while globetrotting. Ask us your eco-questions, join in the green conversation, and help us celebrate Mother Earth.
Hoorah for carbon offsets and yay for eco-friendly hotels–but booking a flight, hotel room, and rental car only marks the start of your vacation, so why let it be the end of your eco-friendly efforts?
To keep greening your travels after you book, there are loads of easy things you can do during your vacation. Here are six favorites.
Stuff your suitcase with easy-being-green essentials
Reusable water botte? Check. Reusable travel mug? Check. Toiletries in reusable containers? Check. With just a few lightweight additions, you can avoid speeding through paper and plastic throwaways at your hotel and other pit stops.
You’re someplace new–now is the time to indulge in delicacies that would have to travel long distances to find you at home. Bonus points–and an extra heaping of local culture–if you hit up a farmers’ market or eco-minded eatery while on the road. Also fun? Drinking locally.
Get around responsibly
If you’re in a place with public transportation, take it in lieu of cabs or cars at least once or twice. Better yet, rent a bicycle or hoof it on foot–the tracks you’ll make are the good kind of footprints.
Learn something new
Wherever you’re headed, chances are it boasts an organization or attraction that will broaden the way you think about the earth; from monkey conservation projects in Costa Rica to butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico, seeing something new today will help the planet tomorrow.
Use environmentally friendly tour operators
Display your commitment to eco-friendly travel with your dollars; choosing to tour with a company that fills its own footprints is one of the best ways to encourage sustainability in tourism industries worldwide.
Take a volunteer vacation
Here’s the biggie: dedicate your travels to a great cause. (You might even take this trip for free!) Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a great time doing something that’s meaningful to you and to many others. Already planned your next trip sans voluntourism? Tack on one extra day to lend a hand in your destination.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member lamtrc
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.