kind travel: tips for an eco vacation

While you’re taking your summer vacation or planning ahead for your holiday travel, here are a few tips for traveling kind-style:
1. Pack Light: don’t bring stuff you don’t need. It adds extra weight to the plane and makes your life harder to manage. When I take the time to plan out what I am going to actually need, I feel so much better. I start by making a list of what outfits I need for each day, then pick the outfit and pack just that. Of course, I try to only bring a few pairs of shoes and use them with several outfits. I also try to pack a few versatile garments so I can layer and accessorize. This doesn’t always happen and sometimes I end up crazed and don’t carve out the time…then my case is too full because I don’t know what to bring. But, I do my best! Plus, the fewer clothes you pack, the less laundry you’ll need to do on your trip—even better if you can make it through the trip and do laundry at home.
2. On board: Call your airline and ask for their vegan meal plan at least 72 hours in advance. If your airline doesn’t have a vegan meal plan, ask for the vegetarian meal with dairy-free substitutes. Most airlines should be able to take care of that (check out http://www.happycow.net/travel/air_travel.html to see the meal options for different airlines). It’s also a safe bet to pack some food in your carry-on just in case. Some good ideas are instant oats, dried fruit bars, nuts and dried fruits, edamame, baked tortilla chips, celery, and carrots. For truly happy flying, I always get a veggie meal from my favorite spot of the moment – M Café or Real Food Daily. In NYC, I choose Candle or Candle 79. It makes my travel way more delicious!
3. Offset your carbon footprint: This cool website lets you calculate your vacation’s carbon footprint. You can offset your trip by donating money for projects that create clean energy to make-up for your carbon emissions. Travelocity and Expedia both offer this groovy service and so do some other organizations like www.carbonoffsets.org or www.terrapass.com.
4. Stay eco-friendly: Sites like Travelocity have a green hotel directory now – look for the green hotel certification. Once you arrive, make your stay greener by taking short showers, reusing your towel, asking the maid service not to change the bed linens, following the hotel’s recycling program, avoiding using prepackaged toiletries, turning off and unplug the electronics when you’re not using them. I always unplug stuff – the TV, and whatever else I can. I know when I leave they will plug it back in, but at least while I’m there, there’s less energy being consumed. Most importantly, give the hotel feedback to let them know that you want more green options (or that you dig the green programs that they already offer)!
5. Research local transportation: Most car rentals nowadays offer hybrid cars, which definitely makes driving around a bit greener. When you can, take public transportation, or, even better, walk! To find some info on the public transit for the city you’re traveling to, download the local public transportation application. Also, use online versions of guidebooks and pamphlets to avoid wasting paper.
6. Bring a glass water bottle: If it’s full, it won’t make it through airport security, but you can pack it in your checked baggage or bring it on the plane empty. Then bring it with you when you go out—it saves the environment and also saves you money! You can also try one of these cool travel filter bottles. After you go through security, you can fill it up at the drinking fountain, and the bottle filters it for you. There’s no need for plastic on the plane. You can refuse the offers of free water and plastic cups if you come prepared!
7. Shop local: When you’re buying souvenirs, buy from local and eco-friendly shops—they’re most authentic that way anyway! When you can, find green gifts too!
8. Take fewer, longer trips! Yes, please!! Longer trips!!!
Do you have any other tips for traveling green?
 

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