Planning a holiday? How to travel green
Living a ‘green,’ environmentally responsible life doesn’t mean you don’t want to have fun, explore the world, and enjoy that life. Green folks are too often presented by the media as grim, fun-hating people – but wanting to live responsibly and make a difference in the world for future generations doesn’t have to be dull and full of compromise – and even those who take their impact on the world seriously need a holiday from time to time. When you need a break and start planning your holiday, follow these simple guidelines to make sure the cost of your holiday doesn’t include damage to the earth or a compromise in your standards.
First step: switch off
Before you do anything else, make sure that your home is prepared for your holiday. Stop things like newspaper deliveries to avoid having a pile of wasted paper on your doorstep when you get home. Use energy saving devices like an EcoSwitch to turn off your appliances at the wall so your home is not passively sucking power from the grid while you are away. An EcoSwitch makes it easy to power down your home when you leave, and power it back up when you return.
Next step: what kind of holiday?
When people imagine holidays, there are some standard images we all share: Pristine beaches, beautiful hotel rooms, lavish dinners. The type of holiday and activities you plan has a real impact on the environmental impact of your trip. Without sacrificing fun, there are plenty of opportunities to make your holiday more energy efficient and green.
Accommodation. Hotels can be some of the worst offenders when it comes to wasting resources. Often the more luxurious the hotel the less efficient it is. If you’re the type to enjoy it, camping is often your least-harmful way to spend your nights – a holiday spent hiking or biking, then camping in the woods can be loads of healthy fun that barely leaves a mark on the world when you go home – as long as you camp responsibly.
If camping isn’t your thing, consider a Bed and Breakfast instead of a hotel. B&Bs can be fun and sociable experiences and tend to be much less wasteful than hotels in general. If no other options exist for you and you must stay in a traditional hotel, try to select a hotel that advertises itself as Green. While there, try to be as responsible as possible: If the hotel offers the option of skipping automatic laundering of your sheets and towels, do so, and turn off the air conditioner and other electronics while out of the room.
Travel. The most environmentally-friendly holidays will always be local trips that you can access via public transport. Taking a train to a local attraction is fun, cheap, and you’ll be surprised at how much there is to do within a few hours of your house. However, many people don’t get that ‘holiday’ feel from a local trip. If that describes you, keep in mind that some airlines offer carbon offsets, and different airlines have different Green policies and track records. A little research can put your mind at ease when you take off.
Renting a car is one of the most wasteful things you can do when on holidays; if possible, plan your accommodation so that you can walk or take public transportation to most of your daily destinations. However, sometimes a rented car is necessary. In those cases, choose an eco-friendly car. Most major rental car agencies offer hybrid or electric cars; if those are not available, choose the most fuel-efficient car possible and use it only when absolutely necessary.
Other power saving considerations
There are a myriad of ways to make any holiday more environmentally-friendly or ‘green.’ For your phones and tablets, bring along a solar-powered recharger. Bring along reusable cups and utensils to spare at least one or two table-settings from needing the dishwasher, and to avoid throwing away tons of garbage when you’re eating out in the wilderness or picnicking in a park. And when eating out, seek restaurants that source their food locally and have a reputation for being environmentally concerned.
A Green Holiday can take a little extra planning up-front, but doesn’t have to be any less comfortable or enjoyable. Put in the work and you’ll be repaid with peace of mind!