You used to be so eco-conscious before you had kids… packing light, eating local, and leaving a light footprint was so easy. (You may have even judged others who couldn’t seem to hack it.) But then you had children, and suddenly keeping a posse of little people happy demanded all of your previously well-intentioned energy. Going green went right out the window — at least on vacation.
Sound familiar? Living a green lifestyle is hard enough solo: add kids who seem designed to consume, consume, consume, and you may feel doomed to detour from your eco-conscious path. It doesn’t have to be this way! Below are the top 20 easy (even obvious) ways parents can travel green with their kids.
1. Pack light and shop local. Instead of bringing everything but the kitchen sink (which will cost you in luggage fees or car space), wait to see what you’ll really need while on vacation, then buy it locally.
2. Picnic instead of going through a drive-thru. You’ll save money, stay healthier, and produce far less trash.
3. When you do need to grab fast food, dine in and skip the straws and lids. (Transfer drinks to reusable sippy cups or stainless steel water bottles if you need to grab and go.)
5. If possible, opt for slow travel. You’ll stay longer at each destination, consuming less gasoline or aviation fuel, and get to know your destination better.
6. Book condos or vacation homes with kitchens and cook your own meals.
8. Bring mesh laundry bags to store soiled clothing to avoid the temptation to snag plastic hotel laundry bags.
9. If you like using hotel soaps and shampoos like I do, use them in their entirety. No need for duplicates every day. If your hotel offers the kids toys or goodie bags at check-in, only take what you think they’ll actually play with. A simple “no thank you” is fine.
10. Take public transit in cities. It’s an educational and fun way for kids to travel, and you’re helping the local environment (and probably saving your sanity too: no getting lost or getting stuck in traffic!).
11. If you don’t own one, rent a hybrid vehicle at your destination or for the duration of your road trip. We recently saved over $350 driving a Prius through Northern California instead of a minivan. Plus, some hotels will give hybrid or electrical car owners perks like discounted parking or free charging station use.
12. Look for the LEEDS silver or gold standard when booking a hotel for your family. This designation, not easy to obtain, means the hotel is going above and beyond to recycle and reuse.
13. Rent bikes to see cities and towns up close and personal. It’s a better way to orient yourself, and you keep the car parked.
14. Turn off the lights and turn down the thermostat when leaving your hotel room. (Told you some of these would be obvious!)
15. Bring water bottles for every member of your family. Use them.
16. Bring kid-friendly snack foods that can be bought in bulk, to avoid excess packaging. If needed, repackage snacks into individual portions in reusable bento boxes or extra sippy cups.
17. Camp! You’ll save money, use less energy, and even get your hands dirty.
18. Visit natural reserves or state parks instead of family fun centers or other high-consuming kiddie havens.
19. Take your hotel maid up on the offer to only “refresh” your room when staying multiple nights. Admit it: you don’t change the linens every night at home, either, and everyone gets by just fine.
20. If you have a diaper-wearer, consider eco disposable options if cloth diapering on the go just seems too daunting.
Do you travel green with your kids? What tips can you offer? I’m always looking for new tricks in my arsenal!
Photo Credit: ubrayj02.