Tips for Eco-friendly Travel

November brings with it the start of the holiday season, school
breaks and family vacations. Whether you’re visiting Grandma Millie
in Cheboygan or escaping to the Bahamas, many of us may travel more
in the next few months than we do all year. The bad news is that
travel produces a lot of carbon dioxide, the primary culprit in
global warming. The good news is it’s easier than ever to choose
more eco-friendly travel methods and offset the emissions from your
journeys. Here are several ideas to consider when making travel
plans.

Bus and Rail
Staying in the country, your region, state or even city can leave a
far smaller footprint that stepping abroad ? the closer you stay to
home, the fewer fossil fuels will be burned. Taking a trip within
the United States opens up the option of taking a bus or even
riding a train. A tour by train can be a vacation in itself, and is
a fun way to enjoy the scenery and get off the main path.

Driving
If you can drive rather than fly, drive a small car with good gas
mileage. Also look for rental companies that offer hybrid-electric
vehicles. Among these, Enterprise Rent-A-Car recently launched the
50 Million Tree Pledge ? committing to
underwrite the planting of 1 million trees a year for 50 years
as part of their environmental stewardship program. If you’re
traveling to Los Angeles or Maui, you can even rent a
biodiesel-powered Volkswagen Bug from
Bio-Beetle. Cities throughout the U.S.,
Canada and abroad also offer
car
sharing
programs ? simply pay per trip to reserve a vehicle
for a few hours or several days. No matter what the vehicle,
hitch a ride with grandma and your kid brother rather than
taking separate cars. You’ll save gas, and are practically
guaranteed to get a good story or two in the deal.

Flying
Airplanes burn the most fuel during lift-off and landing, so book a
direct flight to reduce both, and decrease the total distance
traveled along the way. And try to save air travel for when it’s
the best or only option. Whether you’re taking a train, plane or
automobile, Web sites such as TerraPass and
EarthMoment have partnered with airlines, car
rentals, passenger railways and hotels so that a portion of your
purchase price goes to fund carbon offsets ? or you can calculate
the footprint of your trip and purchase offsets directly.

Public Transportation
No matter how you get to your destination, don’t forget about the
travel during your stay. Try walking or taking public transit
rather than renting a car. Many cities have some form of public
transportation, and the largest ones, such as New York City,
Washington D.C., Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles have extensive
systems such that you won’t need a rental car. You’ll enjoy the
lower cost, no parking hassles, less time stuck in congestion and a
smarter environmental choice. City transit usually includes
convenient stops at parks, museums and other cultural offerings.
Walking is a great way to see communities and discover great nooks
and hidden treats.

Accomodations
All that walking warrants a great place to unwind at the end of the
day, and you don’t want to dash your efforts with eco-indifferent
accommodations. Use sites such as
Environmentally Friendly Hotels to find ratings
and reviews of hotels and their sustainability efforts. During your
stay, request that linens not be changed until you check out
instead of every morning. Also hang towels on the racks, as towels
on the floor indicate to housekeeping that they need to be
replaced. Some hotels are determined in their daily cleaning, so if
all else fails keep the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door until
the room needs refreshing.

Extras
Try as you might, a perfect, zero-footprint vacation often isn’t
feasible without a little help. With
EarthMoment, you can
calculate your carbon footprint and use your regular shopping to
offset it. Whether you’re buying airfare, a gift for mom or music
for the trip, your purchase will support your choice of renewable
energy, energy efficiency or reforestation (at no extra
cost).

Have a great, green adventure!

Do you utilize carbon offsets or have tips for low-impact
traveling? Share your ideas and resources in the comments section
below.

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