Traveling in Earth-Friendly Style: Accommodations, Gear and Other Tips

Just because you’re jetting off for a holiday of relaxation and fun doesn’t mean you’re taking a break from being environmentally responsible, right? In a society where convenience almost always trumps eco-friendliness, it can be challenging to stay green on the road.  There are disposables everywhere, it’s tough to find eco-friendly travel gear and racking up a whopping carbon footprint from all those travel miles is all too easy.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, though.  Guess what, ladies and gentlemen – you can be just as green on a weekend getaway as you can at home, without sacrificing quality or style.

Find green accommodations online through one of the many directories and resources on the web.  Green hotel ratings aren’t yet available for every city, but they’re much easier to find now than they were a few years ago.  Check out Sustainable Travel International, which offers a searchable directory of eco-friendly lodging and other tourism services, as well as Green Seal, which lists lodging properties in the U.S. that meet its Green Seal certification standards.  Another place to check is the Green Hotels Association, which maintains an international directory of earth-friendly hotel members.

Keep your luggage to a minimum to make taking public transportation, walking and riding bikes way easier (because naturally, that’s how you’re going to get around, right?).  It’s really no fun trying to lug insanely heavy, bulky luggage around, let alone fitting it into the tiny compartments offered by trains and buses.  Think about everything you’re putting in your bag – are you really going to use that? Is there a real need to pack four pairs of shoes for a single weekend trip? A few things that should definitely go in your bag include a reusable water container, your own mini toiletries (leave the ones the hotel provides behind!) and your own little tableware set complete with a cloth napkin, fork, knife and spoon.

Pack your gear in an eco-friendly suitcase or travel bag
like the Joy Travelbag by Mandarina Duck, pictured above.  The entire Mandarina Duck ‘Joy’ line is made from DuPont™ Sorona®, a renewably sourced polymer partially made from corn.  It’s greener than nylon – DuPont™ Sorona® takes 30% less energy to produce and emits 63% less CO2 emissions during production.  The Joy Travelbag comes in brown, black or natural.  Since chic, stylish, affordable travel gear is still hard to come by (come on, designers!), vintage luggage is a great option for the budget-minded.

Eat, drink and shop locally while you’re there.  Why not enjoy your destination to its fullest? Immerse yourself in the local culture by enjoying local restaurants, sampling regional specialties and purchasing items made by the people who live there.  Buying locally-made souvenirs is a great way to support the local economy of the place you’re visiting.

Conserve resources in every way possible.  Browse brochures at the display in your hotel and then only take the ones you really need (or type the info into your cell as a note, to save paper).  Ask the hotel staff not to wash your towels every day – use them a few times.  Make sure you turn off the lights and air conditioning/heat in your room when you’re going to be out, and bring recyclables home with you if there aren’t any facilities available on your trip.

About Stephanie Rogers
Stephanie Rogers is a fashion- and beauty-obsessed freelance writer with an abiding love for kale and organic wine, living in Asheville, North Carolina.

One Comment

  1. Great post. It always bothers me when some folks do their best to conserve at home but then get on vacation and don’t make the same effort (not that I’d accuse of anyone of this — I’ve been guilty of it myself!). It’s one of those things that in the busy-ness of planning is easily forgotten.

    For folks flying out-of-state and country and planning on renting a car, I have some advice that I learned the hard way — DO the research and really try to line up a rental before hand if you can. I toured Central America with my boyfriend’s family a few years back — he’s Guatemalan-American 😉 — and the public transportation there is about as un-green as you can get. Furthermore, there’s not (or wasn’t at that time) much of a market for hybrids so you couldn’t rent one of those either. We could argue about the differences between carbon footprint in the third world vs. a consumer-culture like the US, but I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable driving an SUV in pretty much any circumstances (plus, you don’t wanna spend tons of $ on gas on vacation, you want something small you can zip up to the beach in and back!).

    Anyway, we’re planning another trip now so I’m doing my homework, looking up cars on the EPA website and other tools like (the latter is neat because it scores cars on both emissions ratings and their cool factor…so basically I can see which of the lower end 4-cylinder Toyotas that I wanna rent has the most sex appeal, lol). I’m also trying to work it out so that as little driving will be done as possible, but then I risk getting locked in one location. It’s a hard balance to strike since vacation by nature NEEDS transportation.

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