As a traveler and explorer you have the opportunity to see amazing new things in near and far-away places, and as a green traveler you have the chance to preserve them for future generations. While there are hundreds of reasons to be more environmentally-conscious and responsible when you travel, here are our top 15 reasons to travel green.
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Here are our 15 reasons to travel green
- It’s Good for the Environment. No need to say more.
- It’s Good for your Children, and your Children’s Children. By being a responsible tourist you’ll do your part to ensure that the places you visit will still be there 15, 50, even 500 years from now.
- You’ll Save Money. Green travel is often cheaper than traditional travel. When you burn through fewer resources, you spend less money.
- You’ll Have Something Interesting to Talk About. Trust us, when you hike (instead of drive) 4 treacherous miles up a snowy mountain in Siberia in search of the village’s only ATM machine, only to find out the power is out and you’ll have to trek back the next day, you’ll have a new story to tell at parties.
- You’ll Meet Other Travelers. A great way to travel green is to stay at a hostel and cook in the hostel’s kitchen. The kitchen is often the communal area in a hostel and it’s a great place to make friends with other globetrotters.
- You’ll Meeting Interesting Locals. Two words: Public transportation. There’s no better place to meet, or at least observe, interesting locals.
- You’ll Get Off the Beaten Track. Trying to find lettuce in the middle of Siberia will definitely put you somewhere you’d never thought you’d go. Ask the locals where their favorite park is. There are many guides to find interesting, tucked away places that aren’t typical tourist destinations. Some unique ones can be found looking into letter-boxing and orienteering sites.
- You’ll Learn the Local Life. Locals often live greener because it’s more economical, especially in some European countries and Canada. They are more likely to take public transportation or bike, spend an afternoon in the park, or eat an interesting local food than the tourist will.
- You’ll Lose Weight (or it will at least be good for your health). Walking more, eating healthier, consuming less = the perfect healthy diet plan.
- There will be More to See/Future Vacations. Green travel now is imperative to any sort of travel in the future. If you want to take a trip later, travel green now.
- You’ll Strengthen Your Brain. If you’re new to “going green” you will quickly learn to see things from a different perspective and keep your mind active.
- You can Focus on the Travel. When you focusing less on what you consume, you can focus more on what you came to see and experience.
- You’ll Feel Good about Yourself. When you “do good” you feel a little better about yourself as a person and what you contribute to this world. And you’ll realize what an impact you can make.
- It’s Not as Hard as You Think. Once you get the hang of it, traveling green becomes second nature. All it takes is a few minor changes and maybe a big one here or there. In the end the question isn’t “why travel green?” but “why not travel green?”
- It’s Trendy. Green is the new black. Before you click away, hear me out. I’m generally not big on group think mentality, but when more travelers go green it’s good for the environment. If it’s “in” to be thinking about your impact, then I’m all about trends.
There are More Than 15 Reasons to Travel Green
You can probably think of many more than 15 reasons to travel green. Big or small, you will be making a difference with every positive choice you make.
Enjoy a green return home with these 6 tips
You’ve dined on native food, sampled local wine, and explored more museums and parks that you can count. Now your trip is over, and it’s time to head home, but your job as a green traveler isn’t quite finished. As you pack your bags and map your route, here are 6 things to ensure a green return home to make the last leg of your trip as environmentally friendly as the others.
Ditch excess baggage.
Leave your clothes and anything else you won’t need behind, especially after a long trip. This is especially true if you’re in a country where much of the population lives in poverty, but it’s good practice anywhere. Just about every country has an organization that will accept donations. When we headed out of St. Petersburg for the Trans-Siberian Railroad after our semester abroad, we gave our extra clothes and shoes to the babushka who managed our dorm. Remember to apply the packing light rules to your return trip, too.
Flights without layovers burn fewer resources and are better for the environment. If you can find a direct flight in your price range, take it. Perhaps it could be in your budget to take a direct flight either to your destination or back, not both ways.
Let it lie.
If you took a rock from the woods or a shell from the beach as a free souvenir, put it back. (Better yet, don’t take it in the first place.) As a green traveler, you should strive to preserve the natural environment and leave things in better shape than they were when you got there. Leave the natural artifacts and find a sustainable souvenir instead.
photo credit: SugarCreekPhoto
Follow the same environmentally-friendly practices you did when you were traveling around the city, and take public transportation to and from the airport if you can. Traveling to and from Chicago’s two airports make it very easy to plan a green trip to the airports as well as using sustainable transportation for your green trip home.
Whether you are planning your green trip home or anytime, remember that with digital photos, you only have to develop what you need. Some of us get carried away and take 50 photos of a distant bird in the sky, only to realize later that we’ve captured a black dot against a massive blue backdrop. The beauty of digital photography is you don’t have to print all of the photos you take. What are the odds that anyone else is really going to want to see 15 pictures of that crumbling castle? I am embarrassed to admit but in the 1990’s, while returning from a trip in Montana and driving back to Illinois, I took three rolls of film (!!!) of a herd of moose. And I even ordered “doubles.” (Remember those?)
Donate leftover currency.
There’s no reason to carry home coinage that you’ll likely never use. Many airports have donation boxes where you can give away your extra money. Otherwise, create some good travel karma – considering giving it to a fellow traveler on his/her way into the country.
Follow these tips to ensure a green return home, and you will travel lighter and make a direct difference on the environment as well as in people’s lives. What are things you have done to have a green trip coming home?