With Earth Day right around the corner on April 22, environmentally-conscious travelers abide by the guiding principle to “take only photographs and leave only footprints.” Today, it’s easier than ever to combine “going green” with just about any journey, whether it is for business or pleasure.
Planning for a green vacation starts before you even leave by looking for ecologically sustainable products for personal use, such as makeup, insect repellent and luggage made from recycled materials.
Research the companies you will be using along the way or ask your travel agent to do so. Reward those companies that are working hard to reduce their own footprint on the earth with your hard-earned travel dollars.
Packing light tips usually recommend leaving toiletries at home and using hotel amenities. This tip, though, will increase your contribution to the waste stream. A better choice is to purchase lightweight reusable small toiletry containers and bring your own tried and true potions.
Another reusable to consider adding to your list is a collapsible water bottle. It won’t add to your bulk but will allow you to reduce your reliance upon bottled water. More and more airports are installing bottle refill stations that allow hydrating easily on the go.
The last things to pack are a few shopping bags so you don’t have to add to the stream of plastic bags littering tourist sites all over the world.
When mealtime calls, be sure to choose local restaurants that serve locally available foods and source their supplies locally. Not only does this add to your understanding and enjoyment of your destination, it means excess resources weren’t used to get your food to you.
Of course, reusing towels at your hotel and requesting housekeeping to not replace your bed linens each day is a time-honored green travel choice. Many major hotel brands now even reward you with extra points if you take these steps.
Taking public transportation, walking or renting a bike in bike friendly cities are other ways to conserve precious resources.
Many people subscribe to the theory that no trip is complete without a bit of shopping. However, rather than waiting to browse at the airport shop which sells cheap items made elsewhere, seek out local artisans and craftspeople for truly one-of-a-kind mementos.
And lastly, as you are out and about during your travels, you might also want to think about leaving sites cleaner than when you arrived. When possible, don’t hesitate to clean up stray trash other less-considerate tourists have left behind. It’s just the right thing to do as a global citizen.