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Guest Post: Green Summer Travel for the Eco-tourist

May 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The warm days of summer are nigh and it’s once again time to pull out your planner and pencil in a few vacation days to take advantage of the great weather and the fact that the kids are out of school.  And although you are keen to get away from it all and visit some exotic locale that you’ve never seen before, a nagging voice in the back of your mind keeps pointing out that every form of transportation comes with emissions (planes in particular), hotels suck up tons of energy, and you’ll be eating at a lot of restaurants that import food items and eschew organics.  Suddenly your summer travel has turned into one big guilt trip!  But don’t unpack your bags and pack it in just yet.  There are many ways to exercise your eco-friendly aesthetic when you travel.  Here are just a few to help you kick off your summer vacay the green way.

1.       Planes, trains, and automobiles.  Choosing your mode of travel is probably the trickiest since they’re all pretty bad when it comes to emissions.  If you have to travel by plane, try to get non-stop flights (which burn less fuel with fewer take-offs and landings) and choose companies that are making eco-friendly changes, like American and Continental (which have made their planes more energy efficient).  Trains are even better if you’re traveling cross-country, since they use about half the energy of planes, and when it comes to cars, you can use your own eco-vehicle for road trips or rent a hybrid from Avis when you reach your destination.

2.       Hiking and biking.  You won’t get far by using your own body for locomotion, but planning a few bike trips throughout the summer can allow you to greatly reduce your carbon footprint while still taking on some destination travel (you’ll just have to choose closer destinations!).  You can still kill the travel bug (not to mention getting in some exercise) while doing a lot less harm to the environment.

3.       Taking a cruise.  Unfortunately, cruise ships are some of the worst polluters when it comes to travel.  Older ships not only create more emissions than an airplane covering the same route, they also use a ton of electricity, leave waste in the water and in every port along the way, and bring minimal benefits to the communities they frequent (since they’re all-inclusive).  So if you want to spend a few days on the water, go to your nearest lake and rent a canoe, a kayak, or an eco-friendly motor boat (some companies now offer them).  If you simply must hop an ocean-liner, think about going out of Alaska or California, which have stricter regulations on waste.

4.       Communing with nature.  Why not forget planes, trains, and boats altogether and opt for the greenest vacation on the planet: a camping trip?  Load up your hybrid SUV and head off into the wilderness for a few days of rest, relaxation, and natural living.  You can stay close to home to cut emissions, fish for your dinner (with a permit, of course), and use a lot less electricity by camping out under the stars and cooking via fire.

5.       Offsetting emissions.  Sometimes we simply can’t avoid the pollution that comes along with many forms of travel.  So rather than shrugging your shoulders about something you can’t change, offset the damage you’ve caused by unplugging everything when you leave and setting your water heater to “vacation” mode, trying restaurants that feature local and organic foods (in the area you’re visiting), and planting trees in your community when you return.

Kyle Simpson writes for Mauritius Holidays where you can plan your next exciting vacation.

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