How to Travel “Green” and Have a Low Impact Vacation

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling Green

Traveling GreenEnvironmental issues are an international concern, which means any eco-friendly practices that are done at home should travel with you. By definition, to travel green means traveling responsibly, paying attention to the ecology, and respecting the environment and sustainability of your travel destination, your travel practices and in your every day travel plans. Traveling green may sound difficult or as though it may hinder your plans to just relax and not think about anything serious while on vacation, but traveling green is not time consuming nor is it challenging. Here’s how you can easily travel green:

Cut down on waste

When packing for your trip, think of the three “Rs” of environmentalism: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Instead of purchasing bottled water everywhere you go invest in a reusable water bottle. While you are not permitted to pass airport security with a full water bottle, you can fill it once you have passed security, so carry it with you in your carry-on or attach it to your handbag so it is within reach. According to the organization Ban The Bottle, Americans discard approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles a year and only about 23% of those are recycled; not to mention even though many locations offer plastic bottle recycling, more often than not the cap is not recyclable.

In addition to a reusable water bottle, also carry a reusable shopping bag. This will come in handy during tourist shopping, or if you plan on food shopping while you are traveling. Tourists often throw souvenirs in their suitcase, so getting a new plastic bag with each purchase is a waste. Pack a reusable shopping bag in your carry on and it will be there when you need it.

Another way to reduce plastic consumption is to avoid purchasing travel-sized toiletries and instead invest in reusable travel-sized containers and simply fill them with the products you use at home. This includes shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer – just to name a few.

All of these products can easily be found at your local drug store or department store and once they are purchased you will never have to buy them again!

Adjust your heat or air conditioning

If you are not home for more than a few days an empty house does not need to be heated or cooled and consumes energy unnecessarily. If you can, turn the thermostat off completely, but if you have a house cat or fish that someone will periodically be checking on, simply adjust the temperature to a livable level.

If you are a frequent traveler consider investing in a thermostat that can be adjusted via an app or website. It’s easy, convenient and you may be surprised at the money you will save!

Visit the U.S. Department of Energy website for more tips on saving energy and money at home while on vacation.

Unplug small appliances

If no one will be home to use the toaster then there is no point in leaving it plugged in. Leaving lamps, televisions, coffee makers and even the microwave plugged is wasteful. Believe it or not, unplugging small and larger appliances conserves energy and saves on electricity costs since many appliances consume power even when they’re not on.

Minimize your carbon footprint

You can minimize your carbon footprint while traveling by choosing green methods of transportation. This could mean renting a hybrid car or even just a smaller sized vehicle instead of a gas-guzzling SUV or choosing a nonstop flight to reduce the increased fuel consumption made each time an airplane takes off and lands.

Once you have arrived at your travel destination use public transportation as much as possible or combine trips so you are not driving across a busy city more than necessary.

Stay in an eco-friendly hotel

As the importance of sustainable living and travel becomes increasing important some hotels are accredited as green hotels. A quick online search will reveal a list of accredited hotels. Things to look for when selecting an eco-friendly hotel include whether or not there is a green sticker in the hotel lobby that signifies that it is an accredited green hotel. Also, look at what kind of recycling programs are in use and how the hotel works to reduce energy consumption i.e., are guests encouraged to use their towels more than one time?

If there are no eco-friendly hotel options at your travel destination you can still practice green habits by turning the water off while you brush your teeth, taking short showers, turning off any unnecessary lights, and adjusting the thermostat when you leave your hotel room. You can also leave a note letting hotel staff know that you plan on reusing your sheets and towels.

Invest in travel medical insurance

What does travel insurance have to do with being an environmentally conscious international traveler? Everything. Just because you are traveling green, doesn’t mean you should travel without a quality travel insurance plan.

Imagine becoming injured or ill while traveling abroad and not knowing which medical facility or hospital you can trust to help you? With the right travel medical insurance plan a quick phone call will give you access to a reputable hospital or doctor of your choice, saving you time, money and potentially reducing your carbon footprint.

If you plan on participating in eco-friendly activities while traveling, such as a cycling or tree planting, travel medical insurance will protect you should an accident or injury occur. You will not only have access to quality medical care, but will also have Rx universal pharmacy coverage should you require antibiotics or other prescription medication. There are even “Green” Travel Medical plans that offer extra environmental benefits allowing you to offset your carbon footprint.

Travel insurance can also assist you should a direct flight not be possible and you experience travel delays, cancellations or miss a connecting flight.

Investing in insurance is your best way to be protected against the worst-case scenario – even while traveling green. If environmental consciousness is important to you, ask your insurance provider if they offer paperless statements to reduce paper consumption. You can also ask if your insurance company donates to or volunteers with any environmental organizations or inquire to see how they encourage green travel within their own company or with their clients.

By [email protected] Commons (mail) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons