10 (Painless) Eco-Friendly Tips For Your Next Trip

July 27, 2009 | By | Reply More
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Looking for some simple ways to be more environmentally friendly on your next vacation? Here is a practical list of small adjustments each of us can make to lesson our eco footprint as we travel the globe. Each of us can minimize the impact left in our wake through a few mindful approaches to planning our trips.

1) Support destinations that are taking an active stance to protect sensitive areas, species in decline and preserve natural resources. The National Geographic Traveler is a terrific resource for research – click on their Geo-Tourism tab. You’ll find the Nat Geo Center for Sustainable Destinations on their website, where they have rated 115 places in the world for their environmental policies.

2) If going on a group tour, seek companies that are committed to responsible touring. Choose a company that has an environmental impact policy in place and who sponsors programs that give back to the communities in which they operate tours. Top companies offer travelers an opportunity to volunteer in local settings during their tour.

3) Look for boutique hotels and lodges which place less of an ecological burden on the local bio-systems rather than large sprawling resorts or giant high-rise hotels. Select properties built with a respect for their unique environment, and which incorporate the topography in their buildings. These hotels or lodges often employ local people who are experts about the area’s natural wonders, culture, indigenous groups, and geography. These unique properties often seek relationships with local food producers to provide guests with succulent meals that showcase authentic flavors of the region. Take a moment or two to see if the hotel you have chosen has an environmental impact policy stated on their website. Some hotels will donate a portion of their income for carbon offsetting, or are active partners in local volunteer programs, or may work with visitors to plant trees to assist reforestation of tourist areas.

4) When possible, seek the services of a locally-based guide. This provides jobs for the people who live in the area, improving their quality of life, and returns funds to the local community improving the environment in which they live.

5) Minimize the amount of packaging you take with you or leave behind. Most countries do not recycle at the same pace as the U.S., and whatever you throw away usually ends up in a landfill – so take that toothpaste out of the carton before you put it in your bag. Give consideration to the number of sample shampoos and hand lotions you collect. Do you really use them or do they end up on a shelf at home waiting for someday????

6) Leave no trace – dispose of litter properly and keep an eye on kids and help them learn to be considerate travelers. Most importantly, take plenty of photographs, but please leave any “souvenirs” from the wild you are tempted to take home with you. Stay on the paths and walkways – leave natural habitats and wildlife undisturbed as much as possible. Look for sightseeing opportunities that avoid a negative impact on the environment – for example, the Amazon offers many canopy tours. These tours allow visitors to see the jungle from bridges suspended 40 or more feet in the air, providing unparalleled eye-level bird-watching experiences, while preserving the jungle habitat below.

7) Shop for hand-made crafts and works by local artisans, but refrain from products made from endangered animals (for example, ones using ivory or tortoise shell). Tip that item over and make sure it doesn’t have a “Made in China” sticker on it somewhere. I’ll never forget shopping for souvenirs in Fiji, only to find foreign made goods everywhere. It was worth the effort to seek out a local artisan to purchase goods from.

8) Enjoy the bounty of locally-grown produce and eat at restaurants that use local food producers and specialize in local cuisine. Visit a produce or farmer’s market to get an appreciation of the local fare and culinary customs. Then patronize a family run restaurant rather than an international chain restaurant.

9) Whenever possible take public transportation, train, subway, or bus, rather than taxi or car. If you do rent a car, consider requesting a hybrid vehicle. Most major car rental firms now offer hybrid vehicles in varying sizes. Finally get out and walk or bike whenever possible – you’ll see so much more than gazing out a window!

10) Use water and energy wisely – I’m pretty sure you’re up on this already, but here’s a quick rundown:
Turn off the lights when you leave the hotel room, turn down the AC if you’ll be out touring all day, use that towel several times instead of just once, consider how many tourist brochures you’re collecting (do you grab every one you see, give it a casual glance and throw it away?? – consider collecting only the ones you are likely to actually use).

Every effort to be eco conscious makes a difference. Many hotels, cruise ships, and tour operators have incorporated practices to offset the environmental impact of tourism. Some regions are rich with people and companies who are committed to protecting the environment and making sure the natural wonders of the area are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Our thanks go to Ker & Downey for providing many of these environmental tips. Ker & Downey is a stellar example of a tour company leading the way to travel gently upon the Earth.

Offering vacation packages to some of the most beautiful natural areas in the world, Ker & Downey have partnered with many environmentally aware hotels, parks, and travel providers. To learn more about their tours, contact your travel agent or visit Ker&Downey.com.


Category: Family Vacations, Featured, How To, Volunteer Vacations