Yes, it’s possible! Read on for easy ways to be green while traveling with kids.
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.
Easy ways to be green while traveling with kids
1. Pack light and shop local. Instead of bringing everything you think you will need but probably won’t use anyway (and 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. It will be a much-needed rest for the driver who may want to keep “driving through” to get to your destination faster. The kids will love time to run around too. So take time to stretch, walk and get some fresh air.
3. When you do need to grab fast food, try to dine in but if you can’t, at least skip the straws and lids. Transfer drinks to reusable sippy cups or stainless steel water bottles. Our family regularly brings in our water bottles and fills them up with water from the soda dispenser. We are saving money, saving on plastic and paper cup waste, and staying healthier too. You will also produce less trash when you dine in. You won’t need a bag, extra napkins, drink lids and holders, and all that extra “packaging.”
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. Go shopping once and think of all the stress and headache you will save yourself not having to get everyone ready and drive to a restaurant for every meal.
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. This is the same at restaurants. If your kids don’t need a children’s menu and/or crayons to occupy them, just say no.
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!). Seriously, there are hidden perks of public transportation.
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 hundreds of dollars 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. You will be supporting a local business too. There are easy apps to find bike routes wherever you are. What a great way to spend a few hours! Want to be even more green? Try to rent a bamboo bike.
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.
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.
Photo credit: ubrayj02.
Even if you pick up a few new ways to be green while traveling (Legoland California trip) with kids, you and your family will be making a huge difference. Traveling green with kids is always worth it. Soon your new ways will become habits for the next generation.