It’s Spring Vacation time, which gets me in the mood to plan a trip. Home or abroad, I’m still the same person
who can’t bring herself to toss a pop can. Why should I leave my green ways
behind me just because I’m traveling?
Green vacationing means choosing activities that have less impact on the planet:
staying closer to home, driving instead of flying, or choosing lodgings that
use sustainable practices. You might already be taking green vacations!
Close to Home
By enjoying time off in your own stomping grounds, you can save money and
resources by not consuming extra fossil fuels through extended travel. You’ll
find that staying close to home helps your family relax and connect without the
distractions of a big trip.
Explore fun destinations in and around your own neighborhood. Try a new restaurant.
Visit the city zoo or a museum. My family plans bicycle excursions into town
for lunch, then head off to the library or the park. On warm nights, pitch a
tent in the backyard, stay up late and stargaze.
Take nature hikes in your own backyard and make a list of what you find there. My
family’s been working to make our yard a habitat – a place that supports wild
creatures, especially beneficial insects. The National Wildlife Federation’s
Backyard Habitat program suggests ways to make your property creature-friendly.
Hitting the Road
Sometimes getting out of town is a life-saver! You can lessen your travel impact by following some simple guidelines.
Flying uses twice as much fuel as driving, so try to enjoy destinations close enough
to drive to, and drive your car with fuel economy in mind, keeping it tuned up
for maximum efficiency. Avoid jack-rabbit starts, excessive idling, and driving
over the speed limit. More fuel efficiency equals less carbon emissions – true
whether you’re on vacation or not.
Save more fuel by walking and using public transportation. If you vacation in a
city, see your surroundings through the eyes of the people who live there. My
family has strolled through Boston’s North End, looking for the best cannoli,
and we have negotiated subways in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
Try low-impact activities such as camping if you’re spending the night. I grew up
camping in Indiana state parks and have wonderful memories of stories and
s’mores around the campfire, hiking, swimming, and finding my way to the
campground restroom in the middle of the night. Local state park inns are also
great places to stay if camping’s not your thing.
More hotels are going green. Even if your hotel isn’t considered “green lodging,”
you can still conserve resources. My family reuses towels and skips daily
housekeeping services. I bring an extra sack to stash recyclables in until we
can dispose of them. Instead of eating out for every meal, we bring along our
own snacks and carry our own water bottles. If we get a chance, we try to
patronize local eateries, not just chains – it’s more interesting and it boosts
the local economy.
My family vacations to connect with each other and enjoy the diversity of our God-made world. Knowing that we are lessening our environmental impact is just icing on the cake!
To find out more about National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Habitats, visit http://www.nwf.org