20 ways to green up your vacation without breaking a sweat

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I hear you. Taking a green vacation sounds hard. And expensive! And isn’t worrying about the environment all the time pretty much the opposite of relaxation?

Nah, not if you do it in small bites.

Fact is, you can do little things to help reduce your footprint with almost zero additional effort. As an added bonus, most of these tips cost the same or less than the standard options, so there’s really no reason not to do them.

Are you going to save the world by making your vacation a little more eco-friendly? Probably not, but it sure doesn’t hurt! And it’s sure to ease your conscience a little, too. That sounds pretty relaxing to me.

Get There Safe

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Pack light when you fly — You wouldn’t think skipping that extra pair of jeans in your suitcase would make much difference, and you’d be right. But what if everyone on your plane did the same? That’s hundreds of pounds shed, saving valuable jet fuel, thereby reducing emissions.

Book direct flights — Starting and stopping pumps out more fuel pollution than a nonstop flight, so if you have it in your budget, do all your flying at once.

Use digital boarding passes — It’s the 21st century. Ditch the paper tickets and boarding passes already!

Travel with a group — If you’re all heading to the same beach, why not pile in the same car? Not traveling with friends or family? Use public transportation for in-town jaunts.

Rent a better car — Most US-based car rental places have hybrids and electric cars available for rent, and now Enterprise and Hertz have a fleet of sexy new electric Teslas to borrow. If you can’t find one of those, even just opting for a smaller vehicle will help.

Take a bike instead of a car — Okay, this one might make you break a sweat. But it’s definitely better for your wallet. And your glutes.

Eco-Friendly Stays

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Get a hotel close to town — That way you can get to the touristy stuff on foot instead of taking expensive rideshares or taxis. You’ll get a better feel for the area this way, too.

Look for a hotel with a green initiative — They’re committed to saving water, reducing waste, and keeping their energy consumption low. All you have to do is book a room. Easy peasy.

Re-use your towels — You’d reuse your towels a couple times at home, wouldn’t you? Do the same at your hotel to do your part in conserving water and energy.

Leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ tag on your door — Honestly, do you really need housekeeping to come clean your room every single day? That’s a lot of unnecessary garbage bags and laundry. Just ask for housekeeping when you really need it.

Eat Your Way Green

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Eat the local specialties — The more your food has to travel to get to your plate, the higher the cost of emissions. That translates to greater environmental impact and higher menu prices. Anyway, eating local has the added benefit of supporting the local economy and culture. This one’s a no-brainer.

Dine in whenever you can — Takeout packaging adds up quickly, and that just means more garbage. Remember to ask for no straws in your drink, too.

Pack a snack for the car — Road tripping? Bring enough food and drink to keep you from making a bunch of snacky detours. Not only does this reduce trash from packaging, it’ll keep your trip on track.

Bring a water bottle — If you’re in an area where the tap water is perfectly drinkable, take advantage of it by refilling your bottle. Saves you money, too.

Remember to recycle no matter where you go — Yep. You can find recycling facilities almost everywhere in the world! And if not, choose food and products that have less packaging to cut down on garbage.

Do Things Right

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Get adventurous — Sure, you could bask on the beach for a week, but why not get out of the hammock and do a little exploration? Hike, birdwatch, snorkel, zipline, kayak, skateboard, segway — there are plenty of awesome things to do no matter where you go.

Go non-motorized— Ditch the motors and get active. Try paddleboarding instead of jetskiing. Get up close with nature by rock climbing instead of taking a helicopter tour. Grab a longboard in favor of a moped for in-town exploration.

Stay on the trail and away from wildlife — It’s great to get out there, but remember to keep the wild wild. Stay in the designated tourist areas and don’t stomp all over the untouched forest floor. Let the plants and animals do their thing from afar. Bring a zoom lens on your camera if you need to.

Keep hidden gems hidden — Overtouism damages fragile ecosystems, so if you find an especially pretty spot off the beaten path, go ahead and take your pictures, but please don’t geotag them on social.

Choose responsible souvenirs — No starfish, seashells, or bits of coral, please. Don’t take any shiny rocks from the national park, either. Get a magnet or better yet, something made by a local artisan.

Photo by Cynthia Magana on Unsplash

What are some of your favorite easy eco-friendly travel tips? Do you always travel green? Comment below!

Sarah Czarnecki is a freelance writer who focuses on wildlife and ecotourism while occasionally dipping a toe into fiction. Learn more about who she is and why she writes at her eponymous website.

Green travel writer | Dog person | Beta reader | Hired pen | sarahczarnecki.com