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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.

Eat locally
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,┬áseeing 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

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.


Bob McNulty

I think it is a bit pointless to fret about your individual impact. After all, you go on vacation, what, once a year? It is business travel that racks up the pointless carbon. Why fly someone half way round the world, when a couple of emails or a free skype video call can do the job? Totally agree about trying to learn more about the world as well. Education is the only way a difference can be made.

Sandy Salle

Piggy-backing off of your tip to use environmentally friendly tour providers, I also think it’s important to use eco-tourism accommodations. Many times, they are more luxurious than non eco-tourism accommodations!

When you stay at accommodations that are both socially and environmentally responsible, you often have a much more authentic and rewarding experience.


Hear, hear to drinking locally! hahaha

These are great tips and can definitely help a traveler bring their footprint down, especially the reusable water bottle.

Cherokee County Homes For Sale

All great tips, but I kind of agree with Bob. Your once or twice a year vacation is not really the problem, but I suppose every little bit helps.


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Nathan Rodriguez

Nice tips, thanks for bringing environmental concerns to traveling point of view.

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Bottoms Up

Think Global
Drink Local

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