7 Ways to Green Your Next Family Vacation
Vacations are supposed to be a time of family bonding and indulgence. But just because you’re focused on your family first doesn’t mean you have to leave your green lifestyle habits at the door. Pack them up along with everything else, and you might be surprised at how doable it is. Check out these seven ways to easily incorporate environmental consciousness into your next family vacation.
1. Travel Light
When you do travel, especially with family, try to do so with a minimalist mindset. If you’re packing things that you haven’t used in three months, you probably don’t need to pack them, unless it’s something like a swimsuit or sunscreen. The same should go for the kids. They may want to bring every single toy they own, but that’s completely unnecessary when they’ll have so many new distractions. Besides, depending on how you’re traveling, over-packing can be pretty costly.
2. Plan Smart
Plan the travel for your trip. It’s not as important to plan each day out as it is to simply understand the routes you’ll be taking. If you can avoid air travel, do so. It’s one of the worst options for the environment. Assuming you don’t mind an extra day in the car, you can get there for about the same cost and see some cool sights along the way.
If you do have to fly, especially if you’re going overseas, look into the airline. Some companies are taking steps toward a greener flight. For instance, Southwest Airlines’ green initiatives include working on using biofuel, reducing emissions, and recycling trash from the flights.
3. Avoid Single-Use Items
The bane of all eco-conscious travelers, single-use items are always available at restaurants, hotels and fast food joints. Instead, try to limit what you have to use.
Pack a reusable water bottle for each family member, and if you have metal straws you can take along, bring those too. These two simple items can drastically cut down on single-use cups and straws, which are exceedingly common during travel. Plus, some places let you fill your cups up for free if you bring your own!
4. Buy Local
It’s easy to forget about buying local when you’re traveling. But it’s good for the environment to buy local because the merchandise doesn’t have to travel. Take a half an hour to look up local events and then go to them.
You’ll get a chance to actually meet and interact with the locals in their native habitat, and you can buy souvenirs from people who represent the area. This also helps contribute to the local economy, which is even better if you’re staying in your home state. The average day-trip visitor to Pennsylvania, for example, spent about $108 per person per trip in 2011.
5. Stay Close
If you aren’t sure about your ability to go green for a long trip or you simply don’t have the time to go away for a while, a vacation close to home can be pretty amazing. Cutting down on travel can be a huge help in getting in a happy, low-cost, low-stress vacation. The best part of this is that what you do is dependent on where you live:
- If you live in the city, you can rent a hotel and spend a whole weekend visiting tourist attractions you’ve never seen.
- If you’re in the country, pack up a tent and go camping.
6. Travel on Your Own Power
When you get there, you want to learn about this place. One of the best ways to do that is by slowing down. Travel on bike to get around, assuming the weather allows for it. If you don’t have bikes, you can still get out and walk around the neighborhood you’re staying in. Walking is even better with kids, since it allows them to get some exercise after all that travel, and gives them the chance to make some decisions about what to see. When you walk or bike, you’re saving fuel and limiting emissions.
7. Go With Green Accommodations
Staying somewhere that supports a green lifestyle is a great option if you have it. Frankly, your best option for green accommodations is probably camping. If you don’t mind the outdoors, then this can be a great way to teach your kids some basic life skills, encourage green living, and actually save enough money for a second vacation. If you manage to take the time to leave all electronics at home and simply exist in nature for a few days, you can end up having a mental vacation as well.
The best part of a family vacation isn’t the destination — it’s the family. Teaching your kids why maintaining environmental consciousness is important can help set the foundation for the next generation. After all, they are the one who will have to teach their own children, so you might as well give them a solid base to start from.
*This is a guest post written by Jennifer Landis, a twenty-something healthy living blogger, mother, wife, distance runner, yogi, and tea connoisseur. She enjoys clean eating, but also peanut butter ice cream. She writes about mindfulness, parenting, and clean eating on her blog, Mindfulness Mama. Follow her on twitter @JenniferELandis.