I love seeing more of the world; traveling and experiencing life in different places has always been important to me. Travel can mean so much, by expanding our perceptions, promoting intercultural experiences, and helping us learn about and appreciate the planet we all share. Unfortunately, if you aren’t conscious about how you travel, it can also be a huge contributor to a larger carbon footprint, among other not-so-green issues.
Almost 100 million Americans travel each holiday season, and it’s no surprise that it doesn’t always bring good cheer — from high prices to bad weather and crowded airports. On top of this, booking holiday trips with travel rewards cards can be difficult due to inflexible flight times, low availability, or hard-to-get seats. Considering all this, is it possible to add concerns about “traveling green” to the already existing stresses of seasonal travel and still keep things simple? Luckily, I would say yes! It is not only possible, but reasonably simple to keep our environment in mind while traveling. Also, green travel practices can even save you some “green”, especially if you make wise use of travel reward programs.
Of course, traveling with a family also means that these days I want to simplify my travel planning, in order to get the most out of it without undue hassle. So I’ve put together some guidelines on how we minimize the environmental impact of our travel. Hopefully this will inspire you to take a closer look at how your own travel plans could be greener, whether you want to hit the beach or the slopes this winter!
Before You Travel: Planning and Packing
Being an eco-friendly traveler starts with planning. Do your research online, and don’t print everything out or get stacks of paper brochures from a travel agent. Book online: whether you’re going back home, traveling to a new and interesting place, or simply escaping the winter weather, Venture Card from Capital One can help simplify your travel this holiday season and beyond. Keep any boarding passes or tickets on your mobile device instead of printing them off, where possible. I’ve personally found Capital One to be helpful when trying to keep my travel plans simple and straightforward to manage.
Pack as light as possible. The more weight trains, planes, and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use. Bring a reusable water bottle and shopping bag to cut down on single-use items during travel. If you got new toothpaste, adaptors, or other travel items before the trip recycle the packaging before leaving home — you’ll save suitcase space and not have to worry about finding somewhere to recycle while on the road.
Definitely take steps to minimize your home’s footprint while you’re on vacation. Turn off and unplug lights and other electronics to prevent them from “leaching” power even when they’re not in use. Turn down the thermostat and water heater, if you have one. You won’t be using them!
Keeping Your Stay Green
Choose an eco-friendly hotel where possible. Do your research and check accrediting bodies for green hotels. You can get a sense of whether a company makes environmental ethics a priority by visiting their website. Or try calling them and asking a few questions, such as the following: Is the hotel locally owned and operated, and/or staffed by local employees? What kind of recycling programs are in place? How does the hotel work to reduce its energy consumption? Do they have a towel and sheet re-use initiative in place?
No matter where you’re staying, follow some basic guidelines to minimize energy use. When you shower, keep it short. Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth. Turn off all electronics as well as and heat or air-conditioning whenever you leave for the day. If you’re staying for multiple nights, make sure to keep sheets & towels instead of having them washed each day — if the hotel itself doesn’t have a policy on this, leave a note for the housekeeping staff. Even better, stay with family or friends when possible. A few more people in the house won’t change its energy usage too much, and you’ll have the benefit of a kitchen to prepare healthy meals in.
Use public transportation, bike rentals, and walk when you’re checking out the locale. While enjoying yourself, be sure to purchase food and other products from local vendors and use your reusable bag! Eating green while traveling isn’t that different from doing so at home. Try to include local and organic ingredients in every dish on the family table when cooking, and check out restaurants which follow sustainable practices.
I’ve found that these ways of staying true to my green lifestyle while traveling with the family actually make it more enjoyable and relaxing than having to change everything about our routine for a weekend or week. Finally, if you plan to travel a lot, consider a rewards card to get the most bang for your buck and stay on budget. The Venture Card is a travel rewards credit card offering double miles on every purchase – anywhere, anytime, and without the restrictions commonly found in rewards programs:
- Cardholders decide when, where and how they want to use their miles. They’re redeemable on any travel-related expense – from flights to hotel stays, cruises and Uber rides.
- Venture Card enables consumers to travel their way, without being tied to a single airline and without the hassle of advance booking and inconvenient flight times.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.