Eco-friendly travel tips

Traveling is a great opportunity to see the world and experience other cultures. Whether you’re traveling domestically or going abroad, there’s always something to learn when leaving your comfort zone and seeing how people in other areas live.

Travel can also be a way to learn about protecting the environment. Parents traveling with children can use their trip to teach kids about how to travel in an eco-friendly way, while executives traveling on business also can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint while on the road. The following are a handful of tips for those people who want to make their next trip as eco-friendly as it is enjoyable.

Find eco-friendly accommodations. More and more hotels are embracing eco-friendly practices with the help of organizations like Green Seal, a nonprofit dedicated to helping companies create a more sustainable world. Such organizations will certify companies, including hotels, that meet certain eco-friendly standards. Those standards vary depending on the organization, but a hotel that earns a Green Seal might have taken steps to reduce its energy consumption by installing fluorescent lighting, embracing recycling programs and encouraging hotel guests to reuse towels to cut down on water and energy consumption. When booking accommodations for your next trip, find a hotel that’s been certified as environmentally friendly. If traveling with your children, explain to kids why it’s important to choose such hotels so you can be sure the next generation is learning about eco-friendly travel.

Choose e-tickets. When traveling by air or train, choose e-tickets to reduce paper waste. Paper tickets have largely fallen by the wayside because they tend to be less convenient and certainly less eco-friendly. When booking flights, travelers are typically given the choice of an e-ticket or a paper ticket. Choose the e-ticket, as it only requires the printing of a boarding pass when you check in at the train station or airport. Paper tickets often include several pages and must be mailed in an envelope, all of which is wasteful.

Unplug certain appliances before embarking on your trip. Major appliances, including televisions, set-top cable boxes, DVD players, and sound systems are still consuming energy even when they are in stand-by or off-mode. This is called vampire power, and it’s an easy problem to address. Before leaving on your next trip, simply unplug some of your major appliances so they won’t be consuming energy while you’re away and they aren’t being used. In addition to saving energy, unplugging such appliances will reduce the cost of your energy bill.

Lower your thermostat and water heater. Heating or cooling an empty house and keeping the water heater at its normal temperature is also wasteful. When leaving on a vacation, set the thermostat to reduce your energy consumption regarding heating and cooling and lower the temperature on your water heater so it’s not heating water you won’t be around to use.

Close the curtains at your hotel. When spending time in a warm weather climate, remember to close the curtains before you depart each morning. Allowing the natural light into the room while you’re away will increase the temperature in the room, and many hotels have their air conditioning on a sensor that automatically turns the unit on when the temperature in the room reaches a certain point. If you forget to close the curtains before leaving for the day, you’re likely wasting energy by cooling an empty room.

Dine locally. Part of the fun of travel is experiencing different cultures, including the local cuisine. When dining out while on vacation, choose restaurants that feature locally harvested foods. Such foods are often unique and geographically distinct, and locally produced goods are much more eco-friendly than goods that had to be imported from faraway locales.

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