Travel Green – When you go on vacation, you obviously want to reduce your environmental impact while you travel green on your next vacation.
However, while staying at an environmentally friendly hotel will go some way towards limiting the effects you have on the world around you, the truth is that the biggest impact occurs before you ever arrive – traveling to wherever you are going.
Once you do get there, local transportation then just adds to the problem.
Fortunately, there are lots of different things you can do to keep your carbon emissions under control.
Travel Green On Your Next Vacation
When traveling overseas or to the other side of the continent, jumping on a plane is unavoidable.
In this case, buying carbon offsets can help to limit the damage.
However, if your destination is nearer at hand, ask yourself if you really need to book a flight – and whether other modes of travel might be better.
For example, if it is possible to take the train, then this can save up to 75% of the energy you would expend flying.
Take the train
Not only that, but a train journey can actually be part of your vacation, particularly if there is good service on board and the train passes through interesting scenery.
The same principle also applies if you are planning on traveling extensively once you reach your destination.
Particularly in places such as Europe, it is very easy to reach most places by train – even if you are not going to a big city.
Going by high-speed train will save up to 66% of carbon emissions compared to driving long distances in a large car.
Rent a compact hybrid
There is always the option of picking up a car once you arrive and then using it to travel locally in the area.
In fact, because the car will only be used for traveling relatively short distances, getting a smaller, more fuel-efficient car – such as a compact hybrid – is perfectly feasible.
If you are staying in a big city, then consider using the local transport system – particularly if it is a good one.
While using public transportation may not be convenient in cities such as Los Angeles, other cities – New York, London and Paris, for example – have excellent and extensive transportation available.
In fact, it is often more convenient to travel by subway in these cities, since this will allow you to bypass heavy traffic and avoid the challenge and cost of finding parking.
Cycle through town
Finally, don’t underestimate human-powered transportation – this is the ultimate way of eliminating carbon emissions.
Some cities are now starting to offer the opportunity for visitors to pick up a bicycle for a nominal fee and then return it to another point in the city once they have finished with it.
We saw this while we were in downtown Indianapolis as one example.
Cycling tourism is also a great way of seeing the countryside and enjoying the fresh air at many destinations.
It is perfectly reasonable to make a 50-mile trip on a bicycle in a day provided that you are relatively fit – and if you aren’t, then you soon will be if you go on a cycling vacation.
You can even join a bicycle tour through town.
Responsible Travel vs. Eco Friendly Travel
Responsible Travel vs. Eco Friendly Travel is part of our Back to School: Green Travel Basics Series.
Here at Go Green Travel Green we talk about “Green Travel.”
But, there are lots of other words out there with similar meanings, specifically “responsible travel” and “eco friendly travel”.
So what’s the difference?
If you want to know how we define green travel, check out our Green Travel Definition post.
We break it down into environment, people, culture, economy, and personal health.
It’s has a broader definition than either responsible travel or eco-friendly travel.
But what about the difference between eco-friendly travel and responsible travel?
Eco Friendly Travel
Eco friendly travel, relates directly to the environment including being aware of and minimizing your impact on the physical environment.
It’s a narrower definition than responsible travel.
photo credit: Nicholas T
Responsible travel expands beyond the traditional notions of environmentalism and encompasses socially-conscious travel.
It means understanding, respecting, and supporting the cultures and people in the area you are visiting.
We like this definition from Lonely Planet:
Responsible tourism can be more-or-less defined as travel that takes into consideration the ‘triple bottom line’ issues of:
Environment: travel that minimizes negative environmental impacts and, where possible, makes positive contributions to the conservation of biodiversity, wilderness, natural and human heritage.
Social/Cultural: travel that respects culture and traditions and fosters authentic interaction and greater understanding between travelers and hosts.
Economic: travel that has financial benefits for the host community and operates on the principles of fair trade.
If you were looking for a trip that’s only eco-friendly you might take a trip that minimizes your impact on nature.
But if you’re going to take a “responsible” trip you would want to make sure that your travels support the local economy and respect the culture.
Before you take your next trip, be sure to consider whether you’re looking for eco friendly travel or responsible travel.
15 Reasons to Travel Green to be a Responsible Traveler
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.
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 organic 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.
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?
Reduce your travel footprint by holidaying closer to home
Traveling is a big part of our lives these days, accounting for around 40% of Australia’s household greenhouse gas emissions (data from http://climatechange.gov.au).
Air travel in particular contributes large amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide plus the processing and transport costs of food, beverages and waste products.
To reduce your travel footprint consider taking your next holiday, a little closer to home.
Here are some great escapes with minimal travel from Australia’s five capital cities.
Not only good for the environment, travelling closer to home by car, bus or train can be eye-opening, affordable, low stress and make a positive contribution to your local state economy.
Reduce Your Travel Footprint at These Great Escapes
Perth – Rottnest Island
Just half hour ferry ride away from Fremantle, this is a sunny wonderful place to soak up the relaxing holiday atmosphere and get your fix of water fun like swimming, snorkelling, fishing, boating, diving, and surfing.
There are no cars on the island so bikes are the main method of transportation and the air is fresh and clean.
There is also a bus that circles the island at least hourly in the daytime, or you could really slow down and take it all in on foot like the friendly little native quokkas that are bound to put a smile on your face.
Adelaide – Fleurieu Peninsula
Made up of rolling green hills, dairy pastures, orchards, farms, vineyards, beaches, rugged coastlines and small friendly communities, the Fleurieu Peninsula offers much to the eco-friendly traveler.
Since eating locally sourced and in season foods significantly reduces your carbon footprint, gourmets will delight in the cellar door tastings, cafes and restaurants offering tasty flavors of regional produce and fresh caught seafood.
Enjoy the great outdoors close up by swimming surfing, hiking, fishing and cycling.
There are also a number of galleries, studios and boutique shops that showcase the culture and history of the region.
Melbourne – Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges
Only a couple of hours out of Melbourne by train and often described ‘the Spa Capital of Australia’, Daylesford represents the ultimate in pampering and relaxation.
Here you can give your health and your spirits a boost the old fashioned way with a long soak in the natural mineral springs.
While the first bathhouse was established in 1895, there are now many more places (and therapy options) to restore health and well being to the most sensitive soul.
You’ll soon be hungry from exploring all the nature, history and art trails of the area on foot or by bike.
Support the local organic farmers by buying up fresh and delicious treats at the farmers markets.
If you visit in Autumn and fancy taking some skills home from your holiday, as well as the memories, try out the hands-on workshops run by farmers, producers and chefs at the Daylesford Macedon Produce Harvest Week Festival.
You can also shop green at the ultimate recyclers – antiques stores!
Sydney – Hunter Valley
With winter just around the corner, what better way to cozy up than a weekend away in the Hunter Valley?
Take or hire a bicycle and tour the wineries, gourmet food stores and local art galleries at your own pace, or the breweries if that is more to your taste.
Pack a yummy picnic and visit Hunter Valley Gardens, 60 acres of living color.
Perhaps the nicest way to sample some of Australia’s finest wines is by cozying up by the fire.
Hotels such as Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resorts even run wine tasting evenings with invited wineries so you wouldn’t even have to leave your accommodation!
Brisbane – Sunshine Coast – Noosa
Surrounded by beach, river, hinterland and national parks Noosa offers the perfect ‘getaway’ for those who love nature and the outdoors.
Once there, it’s easy to get around without a car.
Bicycles are a great way to explore and there are plenty of hire places.
Think about taking a 4WD eco-tour to experience the sandy dunes and rainforests close up or take things slow, and catch a ferry along the pristine river to see the sights.
It won’t take long to appreciate the cosmopolitan lifestyle and relaxed local vibe.
While it can be tempting to head off to locations exotic, there are many pleasures in visiting areas closer to your home.
You will uncover hidden treasures, gain local insight and feel positive about doing something good for the environment.
If you are driving to your ‘close to home’ holiday, you can reduce your car emissions by servicing the car regularly, driving in high gears, reducing your speed and travelling light.
Remember too that most car rental companies now offer a hybrid or ‘green car’ option among their fleet.
You can reduce your travel footprint at the hotel or chosen accommodation by reusing your towel and turning off the electric utilities when you leave the room.
So for a more relaxing and feel good holiday next time round… travel locally and reduce your carbon footprint.
6 Easy Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Impact
Subject near and dear to our hearts here at Go Green Travel Green.
Our philosophy is to focus on easy step you can take to live a greener, healthier lifestyle.
So here are 6 steps you can take today (or any day) to reduce your environmental impact, just about anywhere in the world.
It’s harder to get motivated to pass on driving and, instead, walk to your destination in the winter.
But fear not — you can face the cold in moderation.
Instead of walking everywhere, decide you’re going to walk to one destination every week instead of taking the car.
Opt for Public Transportation
For those days when it’s just too cold or rainy to walk, take the bus or train.
If you don’t have access to public transportation, carpool.
Cut Back on Electricity
Unplug appliances when you’re not using them and turn off the lights when you leave a room.
It will save money and resources.
Buy Local, Seasonal Food
Support your local farmers by getting food from nearby farms, and look for organic produce and dairy.
Food tastes better when it’s fresh and doesn’t have to travel 2,000 mile to land on your dinner plate.
Support Sustainable Businesses
Pass up Starbucks and head to that coffee shop in your neighborhood that composts leftovers.
Don’t know of such a coffee shop?
Check local directories, or ask the restaurants in your neighborhood if they’ve thought about composting.
If they realize there’s consumer demand, they might start being more sustainable.
Spread the Word
One of the best ways to fight climate change is to encourage more people to take little steps to reduce their impact.
Tell your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family what you’re doing to make a difference.
Your story just might encourage them to do the same.
Seasoned traveler who enjoys exploring all options for travel and leisure.
How to Travel Greener and eco-friendly certifications
How to Travel Greener Tips and Eco-friendly Preparations: Traveling the world is an experience, an adventure, but it’s important to keep environmental concerns in mind while preparing to travel greener.
Travel is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases, with every journey leaving a footprint behind it.
Whether you want to spend a lot of time on advanced preparation, or you’re looking for late holiday deals, make your travel plans gorgeously green with these steps.
You needn’t have to sacrifice the thrills and spills to travel green!
Where to Rent Green Rental Car Hybrid
Backpacking South America – 5 Green Backpacker Activities
Before you go, you’ll no doubt be searching out your accommodation.
Try to find places that carry eco-friendly certifications from bodies such as Green Seal or Green Leaf. Green standards vary from company to company, but they will all aim to reduce energy consumption.
They may employ stringent recycling policies, conserve water or purchase local, organically grown food.
You may also be asked to reuse your towel to avoid constant wash cycles.
In the same vein, you should use water as sparingly as possible.
Make sure you choose accommodation that has good public transport access, or that is situated close to the sites you want to see.
Walking or cycling around your destination will really reduce your carbon footprint.
Try your best to avoid taxis (it should also be your decision whether you want to go the scenic route, not the taxi driver’s!).
Before you leave home, unplug all unnecessary power outlets and switch them off at the wall.
This includes your TV, kettle, toasters and microwaves – they all use energy even if they’re in “off” mode.
If you have timed heating or hot water, be sure to switch it off so it’s not firing up needlessly.
And hey, why not do it to keep your utility bills down in the process?
During your stay, be conscious of how your actions might affect the environment.
Never leave lights switched on while you’re out and lower the thermostat as much as possible when you head out for a long time.
Depending on your destination’s climate, there are several energy saving options.
If it’s a very hot place, close the curtains when you’re out.
If the window is covered by Venetian blinds, angle them upwards so that the light bounces off the ceiling — this naturally keeps the room cooler.
If it’s a cold climate, angle the blinds downwards and let the sun warm the room to save on heating.
Try to avoid room service whenever possible.
It may be very cozy and convenient to have your meals or drinks brought up to you, but this increases the overall amount of washing up to be done.
No one likes washing the dishes, either!
Sometimes we like to make our mark on the world with our actions.
It makes us feel proud to go down in history… do something memorable that changed the world for the better (hopefully)… but when it comes to travel greener we want to be as stealthy as possible.
In fact, we hardly want the environment to know we are there.
After all, how would you like it if someone trampled all over you or left footprints all over your carpet? “Travel Greener my Friends!”
Traveling Cross Country In An Environmental Way
The United States is a fantastic place to live, work and travel.
Whether you come from New England or New Mexico, this diverse land has so much to offer.
The land of opportunity, it is also an exceptionally scenic country, with some fantastic sights, landmarks and landscapes to take in.
Unfortunately, the toll of human consumption puts a dampener on any “free bird” spirits.
That is, unless you can find a more environmentally-friendly way to travel.
Going green for your travel arrangements can be tricky when you are looking to head cross country, and these types of trips often benefit from the flexibility and freedom of car transport.
But is it possible to travel cross country in a way that is environmentally friendly, and which methods of transport are most effective for meeting all of your objectives?
Before you can begin to think about the green element to your trip, you need to decide on where you want to go, and the route you want to take to get there.
In most cases, the journey itself can be considered an integral part of the experience, so in this sense, the route you choose can make a real difference to your enjoyment of the trip.
Try to plan around a logical route that takes you through the various places you would like to visit.
If it is a round-trip, try and make sure you are building in enough time between destinations, and that you know the approximate routes you will take to avoid doubling back on yourself, and adding unnecessary miles to your trip.
Next up, you should decide on the method of transport you want to use in order to undertake your trip.
For some people, particularly those who are traveling to one specific destination, flying is the most efficient route to get there, taking the least amount of time to transition from point A to point B.
However, it has to be one of the least environmentally friendly options.
Furthermore, anyone planning a trip to take into account the scenery, or stops along the way, will miss out on this experience by virtue of this mode of transport.
Instead, it is better to consider traveling by bike or by car, depending on how far you are looking to travel.
This gives you that all-important independence, so you can travel as you please.
Traveling by car is one of the more attractive options, but by default this is not necessarily an environmentally friendly way to go.
There are now green cars, either electric battery powered, or of hybrid construction, which can bridge the gap between convenience and the environmental factor.
If you do use a car to travel, you can take advantage of the added flexibility this brings in order to stop off at various scenic points along the way.
This way, you get to see more of the country as you travel through it, making for an altogether more fulfilling traveling experience.
One of the main advantages of traveling in this way is that it enables you to see different places and different states throughout the country, where you can decide on which places you would like to spend more time.
For some, this even provides a good chance to identify suitable locations for retiring, and spending more time in their senior years.
If you find a suitably relaxing stop along the way, this could be a good indication of a place where you can find a retirement home, either for yourself or for your relatives, to make for a relaxing, happy retirement.
Senior Assisted Living in West Los Angeles, for example, allows for those of retirement age to have a comfortable and safe retirement.
Either way, seeing the sights and what the various states have to offer is a must, and every American should look to make the trip across the country if they can find the time.
Traveling cross country
In the US is something that is recommended for most Americans at some stage in their lives.
This country of ours is so diverse, and has so much to see and do.
It is often easy to forget just what is out there in our area, let alone across the rest of the country.
With each state having its own character and features, this type of treat can teach you a great deal about this country of ours, in addition to providing for an extremely enjoyable trip for all the family.
Top Green Travel Destinations ~ Ultimate Directory
We’ve traveled a lot and scoured the web to put together a list of the top green travel destinations.
Traveling green isn’t just about packing light, shopping local, or sticking to direct flights.
It’s also about choosing destinations that are already taking steps to be more sustainable, and supporting the economy in those communities.
And it’s about giving back to the community and the earth by volunteering.
There’s a green travel destination on every continent – from Kerala, India to Slovakia to Luang Prabang, Laos.
Choosing a destination is part of the fun of traveling.
Green Travel Destinations
Olivia at Brave New Traveler definitely has the right idea about green travel; she believes it’s “about finding and supporting destinations that have seen the light, and are already working to green-up their tourist offerings.”
Her picks for the top green travel destinations include Belize City, Belize, Luang Prabang, Laos, and MjÃ¸lfjell, Norway.
Best Five Destinations for Ecotourism
Independent Traveler chooses their destinations “not only for their unique biodiversity but also for a local commitment to maintaining the beauty and integrity of these places through sustainable tourism.”
They rank Palau, Costa Rica, and Kerala, India among their top five.
The Green Rooms
With all of the new green destinations during up, The Guardian tracked down 5 environmental and travel bloggers and asked them to rate their favorite green travel places.
Among them: Keveral Farm in Cornwall, Hostel One66 in Singapore, and Venus Albir in Costa Blanca, Spain.
The World’s Greenest Countries
Newsweek reports on Yale’s 3rd annual green ranking of 149 countries.
Rankings are based on “an environmental performance index (EPI)–a weighting of carbon and sulfur emissions, water purity and conservation practices.”
It looks like Eastern Europe is the place to be, with Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, and Croatia all in the top 20.
photo credit: qronoz
America’s 50 Greenest Cities
Popsci uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide to find the best green U.S. cities.
They based their ratings on 4 categories: electricity, transportation, green living, and recycling and green perspective.
No real surprises among the top five: Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Oakland, and Eugene.
Beyond Green Travel: Top Ten Ecotourism Destinations
Originally published in a National Geographic Magazine article, National Geographic’s Adventure Blog lists the 10 best eco-destinations across the world and breaks them down into three categories:
Luxury Ecotourism Destinations
As this article’s title implies, Suite 101’s info is geared toward high-end travelers who want to try out ecotourism, and addresses the fear that “green travel means no running water.”
Destinations of choice include Madagascar and St. Croix.
Best eco-cruising destinations: Favorite picks for where to go to experience natural treasures
This MSNBC article is more about cruises that let you get close to nature than cruises that help you preserve it.
But, as with all trips, you choose how green to make your vacation.
Experience nature up-close and do your best to keep it in the same condition in which you found it – if not better.
Best EcoTravel Websites
Care2’s comprehensive collection of 15 eco-tour resources and websites, complete with descriptions, is great place to start your green travel research.
Explore the World with International Volunteering
Volunteering during your travels is one of the best ways you can give back to the community.
At the bottom of this Four Hour Work Week post, Tim Ferriss describes five awesome opportunities to volunteer abroad, most of which focus on disaster response and restoration.