6 Easy Ways To Travel Greener


When it comes to being environmentally responsible, travelers often find themselves in confusing situations. Air travel, hotel stays and eating out are intrinsically bad for the Earth, yet these things are hard to avoid when on the road. So in honor of Earth Day, here are a few quick and easy ways to reduce your footprint while traveling. These tips will not only help you go green, but many of them will save you some green, too.

Ditch The Plastic Bottles

On the road, it’s easy to quench our thirst by reaching for drinks in plastic bottles. But the environmental impact of using these “disposable” containers comes with a far bigger price. Consider taking a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, or at the very least ensure your plastic bottles get put into a recycling bin.
Plan to Go Green
Seek out hotels and tours that carry environmental friendly certifications or memberships. Although the level of “greening” can vary, these companies may participate in water conservation programs, may reduce energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, and may only use local foods and more. Besides selecting accommodations at these types of hotels, travelers can reduce their impact by booking hotels close to public transportation.

Pack Light

There’s some simple math involved here: the lighter the plane, the less gas is used. Take any nonessential items out of your suitcase, which might include guidebooks (especially if you can download a travel guide), and remember to pack layerable clothing instead of separate outfits for each day. Sure, it might not seem like just a few articles of clothing can make a difference, but every little bit counts.

Walk More

Walking isn’t only good for your body, it’s also good for the environment. This mode of exploration is also the best way to discover things you might not have noticed, especially in new cities where you might want to take in your surroundings at a slower pace. If walking isn’t an option, public transportation produces less carbon emissions.

Purchase Eco-Friendlier Souvenirs

The things we bring home have an impact, too. Put money into the local economy by seeking out souvenirs from local artists and craftspeople instead of purchasing magnets and postcards that are likely imported from another country. Never purchase anything made out of a scarce natural resource, and if you think a flower or seashell is beautiful, take a picture of it. For example, in the picture above I was tempted to take home some black sand from a beach in Ecuador, but instead I’ll always have this picture. By focusing on memories instead of physical objects, you’ll leave feeling much better.

Do Your Homework

Before you go, do a little research about the environmental concerns of the location you’re visiting. In many places, water is a scarce environmental resource, and should be used sparingly (and we don’t just mean not always requesting clean towels in your hotel room). In other locations, recycling programs and even trash disposal are unavailable. If you do your homework before setting off, you’ll land with a greater understanding of the place you’re visiting, and hopefully that outlook will rub off on other travelers and locals.

[Photo by blogger Libby Zay]

Infographic: The Future Of Hotels Is Green

green hotels infographicIt was only a matter of time before someone made a snazzy infographic on the wastefulness of the hotel industry. This one comes from blog Hotel.info, with information sourced from the U.S. Green Building Council, American Hotel & Lodging Association, NFL, U.S. Energy Information Association, Energy Star, Environmental Protection Agency, Siemens and Forbes.com.

The graphic features plenty of interesting information nuggets and analogies, like:

  • Hotels create 1.9 billion pounds of waste each year, enough to fill 37 million suitcases.
  • They also use 84.7 billion kwh of energy per year, enough to power 64.5 million television sets.
  • If one person took a shower non-stop for 277 years, it would be equivalent to the amount of water used by hotels each year.
  • Hotels also produce 60 million tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to that generated by 10.6 million cars and 12 coal-fired power plants.

Shocking, eh? For a look at what would happen if both hotels and guests adopted greener policies, click on “Read More” for the full graphic.

[via Hotel.info]

Travelers Want To Be More Eco-Friendly, Says TripAdvisor Survey, But Hotels Need To Do More

eco-friendly travelAccording to a new survey from TripAdvisor, 71 percent of travelers say they plan to make more “eco-friendly” travel decisions in the next 12 months, compared to 65 percent in the past 12 months. But with varying opinions on what constitutes eco-friendly anything these days, what does that mean?

As per the release, the top “eco-friendly” efforts practiced by individuals participating in the survey are as follows:

  • 88 percent turn off lights when leaving their hotel room
  • 80 percent participate in their hotel’s linen or towel re-use program
  • 57 percent use recycling in the hotel

From the data, it looks like most of the travelers surveyed avail of small opportunities to make eco-friendly decisions when the opportunities are presented to them, usually in their hotels. But what opportunities are the hotels offering?

  • 58 percent offer linen or towel re-use programs
  • 37 percent have an adjustable thermostat in the room
  • 32 percent offer water-efficient low-flow toilets and showerheads

They are small moves, but compared to what hotels could be doing, they don’t amount to very much. To boot, 60 percent of travelers say they rarely feel informed about whether hotels are truly eco-friendly or just claiming to be. It seems to fall, then, on hotels and tourism operators to truly incorporate greener practices, publicize them and offer ways for guests to get on board. It seems that many travelers want to be more eco-friendly – they just need that extra push when they’re in vacation mode.Going on an Eco Tourism Trip

[Flickr image via cogdogblog]

Couple to visit most of planet on 424 day tour

coupleDarren and Sandy Van Soye, a couple from Southern California, have started on a global adventure to raise awareness about world geography and make the subject more accessible to children. Visiting fifty countries on six continents in 424 days, they will share the journey with more than 700 classrooms representing 50,000 students.

“Our dream is to educate children about geography and world cultures so we’ve planned the ultimate trek around the world to do just that,” said Sandy Van Soye.

Chronicling the journey on their TrekkingthePlanet web site, they were inspired to plan the year+ trip after experiencing first-hand the positive impact of a previous family journey around the globe. Traveling a total of 12 legs by rail, bus, air and ship, they plan to see some of the most remote and unspoiled places in the world, by visiting sites of cultural and natural significance, to instill a greater awareness and curiosity about Earth geography in as many people as possible.

To make efficient use of their time and set an eco-friendly travel example, several legs of the journey will be traveled using Princess cruise ships.

“We wanted to use cruise ships as part of our travel method because they offer an efficient way to reach all the different stops on our voyage while minimizing our global footprint,” said Sandy in a statement.

Their full at-sea travel itinerary incorporates five different Princess Cruises voyages, totaling 96 days sea. Both the first and last legs of their journey, plus three legs in between, will be aboard a Princess cruise ship.
“We frequently hear stories from travelers who cruise to accomplish a goal – from celebrating milestones with family members to crossing something off their bucket list,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Sandy and Darren are a great example of how cruise travel can be both relaxing and rewarding. We’re inspired by their story and we’re honored they’ve chosen Princess to help them achieve their trekking goals.”

Their full 424-day itinerary is available on their web site, where they will be journaling their trip and fans can also follow them on Facebook.

The Van Soyes will complete their global journey in March 2013.


Top 10 Underrated World Travel Destinations

Flickr photo by epitomized1

New eco-friendly destination for 2012: Yoyogi Village, Japan

yoyogi villageWhile the existence of the Yoyogi Village in Tokyo, Japan, is nothing new, it has never been much of a tourist destination. Aside from Yoyogi Park, one of the largest parks in Tokyo, there has never been too much there to draw the attention of visitors. That has all changed this past November, as the rarely-noticed area has been completely remodeled to be an eco-friendly hub of activity.

The project is one of many for innovative thinker, Takeshi Kobayashi, who has been involved in many initiatives to help people live a more simplistic and natural life. With this latest project, Kobayashi aims to show the enjoyable side of sustainable goods and organic foods.

The new Yoyogi Village is separated into zones that symbolize the balance of enjoyment and ecology. For example, in the Container Zone you can find venues like clothing stores, book shops, a travel agent, and an art gallery, while the Village Zone features a music bar, special VIP room, and an upscale dining facility called Code Kurkku. There is also a holistic mind and body center where you can enjoy reflexology, mind therapy, and aromatherapy.

It isn’t surprising that profits made from the new Yoyogi Village don’t go to board members, but to other farm and restaurant-based businesses to help continue the eco-friendly cycle.

To learn more about Yoyogi Village in Japan, click here.