Before we quit our jobs to travel to Argentina, I traveled several times a month for work. While I enjoyed seeing new places, meeting new people, and sampling local foods, I felt guilty about the impact my frequent business travel had on the planet.
photo credit: vipeido
Thus, I did everything I could to be a greener business traveler. Here are some of my tips:
Before you decide a business trip is absolutely necessary, check first to see if a teleconference could happen in place of meeting in person. Sometimes the people you are working with are just as happy to have a tele- or video- conference and it saves you time and expense while having less environmental impact.
Take the Train or Bus
If you can, take a bus or train to your destination. I took the Acela fast train from Washington, D.C. to New York several times. It was less of a hassle (no security lines, easier to get to, fewer delays) and a fun way to see the East Coast.
When a train isn’t an option, fly nonstop. You reduce your emissions by up to 50% with nonstop travel. Check out our guide to the best nonstop search engines.
Schedule Trips Back to Back
If you have several different cities to travel to, schedule the trips back to back. While this can get tiring, you will save time and resources by not flying home in between.
Take Public Transportation to Get Around
Once your at your destination, take public transportation to get around. In many cities taking the subway or metro can be faster than a cab inching through traffic.
Hop in an EcoCab
Most major cities now have hybrid taxis and eco cabs. If you must take a taxi, see if this is an option.
If you’re traveling with co-workers, schedule your travel at the same time so that you can share taxi rides or rental cars.
Select a Hybrid Rental Car
If renting a car is the only option that makes sense, get a hybrid rental car. The prices usually fall within a company’s per diem and you can justify it with gas savings.
Stay in a Green Hotel
Green hotels are a great option for business travel. I personally like the Kimpton hotel chain.
Green your Stay
When staying at a hotel, do everything you can to use fewer resources. This includes hanging your towel, adjusting the thermostat, and turning off the lights. See our list of 11 Tips and Tricks for Greening your Hotel Stay.
Bring a Water Bottle
You know how much I love my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle and it looks sleek enough for professional settings. Another option is to reuse your disposable water bottle several times over the course of a short business trip.
Carry One Bag
If you’re a frequent business traveler you probably having packing in one bag down to a science, but if not, check out our tips for packing light.
How to Travel Green In 4 Easy Steps
How to Travel Green is part of our Back to School: Green Travel Basics Series. As the most basic introduction to green traveling, we’ve put together this simple post about how to travel green in four easy steps.
Step 1: Understand Why You Should Travel Green.
You’re probably not going to want to learn how to travel green if you don’t know why you should. We believe that you should travel responsibly because it’s good for the environment, it’s good for local economies, and it’s good for you. Check out these posts for more about why you should travel green:
Step 2: Recall the basic principle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
In it’s simplest form, the answer to “How do I travel green?” Can be summed up with the phrase: “reduce, reuse, recycle.” When it comes to being a green traveler you will generally focus on reducing your impact where ever you go. But, it’s just as important to reuse and recycle whenever you can.
photo credit: e-magic
Step 3: Know the Categories Where You Can Reduce.
Generally, you can reduce your impact in Transportation, Lodgings, Food and Restaurants, and Activities. By being aware of these categories, you can systematically go through your travel plans and green them.
Step 4: While Traveling, Commit to Minimizing Your Impact in These Areas.
Check out some of our favorite posts about minimizing your impact.
- 4 Principles for Choosing Green Transportation
- How to Find Green Accommodations
- Volunteer Travel Programs
- How to Find Sustainable Souvenirs
- Guide to Packing Light
- How to Choose a Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- Best Countries for Vegetarian or Vegan Travel
It’s really quite easy to travel responsibly. And frankly, it’s fun. You meet lots of new people and see plenty of new sights that you wouldn’t otherwise. As we continue on with this series we’ll go into more details about how to travel green, like how to make a green travel plan or about green vacation planning.
Not sure where to start? Check out our list of Top Green Cities: Where to Travel Green.
Favorite Things About Green Travel
Eco-conscious travel is great because it benefits the environment, but there’s also a more selfish advantage to it. Whether you’re journeying across the world or to a neighboring region in your own country, traveling green can enhance your overall experience. Here are my top five favorite things about environmentally-friendly travel.
I struggle to be a vegetarian (and often fail) when I travel because I believe that to fully experience a culture or destination, you should try local foods — even foods you might not ever eat at home. Sampling cuisines that people in the area you’re visiting have been eating for hundreds, even thousands, of years will give you insight into the culture and enhance your travel experience. Plus, you’ll support local business and eat locally grown and raised food, which is better for the economy and the environment.
I love trying locally produced beverages for the same reasons I enjoy endulging in local foods. With alcohol, it’s fun to see where the locals drink and what the vibe is like. (And it helps that I always feel more comfortable striking up conversation with strangers after I’ve had a drink or two.)
Perusing the local market is always fun, even if I don’t buy anything. I enjoy seeing crafts the locals create, and have been creating for generations. Plus, you can interact with the people — farmers and craftsmen alike — whose goods you’re buying, which is an interaction that can be harder to come by in the U.S.
By staying in hostels and locally owned lodging, taking public transportation, and dining in non-chain restaurants, you get to know other travelers and locals. Being an environmentally-conscious traveler gives you almost limitless opportunities to strike up conversations with people you may never have met staying in a huge hotel, or traveling by car.
There’s no experience quite like hiking through the mountains and looking down over electric blue Moraine Lake in Canada, or swimming under a waterfall at the top of a mountain in Belize. I think one of the best ways to experience any destination is on foot or bike — you’re close to the land, where you can observe details, rather than whizzing by them in a bus or car.
Antelope Falls, Belize