Gadling’s Guide to traveling Green

Travel as we used to know it is changing for the better, thanks to green initiatives like LEED for building projects, carbon offsetting for flying, and green outfitters like Go Lite. There are so many reasons travelers should travel greener and no reasons not to. But what does traveling green look like, and is it harder to do?

Here are a few tips on how to travel green. Odds are you’re already greener because you have a greener conscience, so instead of thinking of these as preachy steps to make you eco-conscious, take these tips as a green refresher.

  • Walk or bike, don’t drive: This is a given. Your feet don´t ruin the environment unless you leave a blaze of fire behind you (which you don´t). This is kind of travel, which many call “slow travel,” is often the best way to travel anyway, as you can take your time soaking in the sights and sounds around you.
  • Take public transportation if you have to: …and I don´t mean a taxi. If you´re traveling far, hop on a ferry, bus, or train. Spare the gas spent solely for you. Limited resources like fossil fuels really will run out one day, so save them when you can.
  • Travel light — and turn off the lights: The less weight you carry, the easier it will be to get around — and the less burden you have for others. Always remember to save energy when you can by turning off lights you don´t need to use.
  • Reuse and recycle: Those plastic bottles that you buy abroad can be reused! So can scraps of paper, lines of rope. Be resourceful when you can, use new products only when necessary.
  • Buy local: Definitely avoid fast food joints when you´re abroad. You´re better off eating street food anyway. Buy fruits and veggies from the local farmers´markets and artisans´goods from small kiosks. Your money to them goes much farther.
  • Take fewer, longer trips: This is a no-brainer to some, but the hardest thing to do for others. Since I live in Hawaii I´m always trying to consolidate my travels. Whenever I need to make a journey across the ocean I always try to tack on another journey with it. It saves time, and more importantly it saves precious resources.
  • Offset your carbon footprint if you can: All of the major airlines are encouraging sustainable travel by informing travelers of ways they can calculate their carbon footprint. More importantly, most airlines like Continental are providing innovative ways to give back to the environment exactly what we are taking away by traveling.
  • Take a “clean break” by staying in green eco-lodges: If you haven´t heard of green resorts and eco-lodges, you will soon enough. There are some really affordable ones popping up all over the world, so being green no longer means you´re spending more money. It just means you´re being more conscious of your effects on the environment — and that´s always a good thing.

This HowCast video offers a nice summary of the tips detailed above.

It is possible to travel green and responsibly! Now go out there and have fun.