‘Staycations’ in the USA: Impact on the Environment

Reader Contribution by Ruth Barton

Thanks to the World Wide Web and more accessible and affordable travel, the world is the smallest it has ever been. People are able to get to the other side of the world in less than 24 hours, for fewer dollars than ever. As a result, a new trend is developing. While it has always been commonplace in the US, more and more countries are adopting the idea of the staycation and holidaying domestically.

The Rise of the ‘Staycation’

Both the US and the UK have seen a rise in the number of staycations being taken in 2014, with 10% more Americans vacationing within the United States, and reports from a Suffolk cottages agency in the UK expressing record bookings this summer, staycations are at an all-time high.

In theory, vacationing in the homeland is a great deal more environmentally friendly than flying to an overseas destination. This is because air fares have such a large impact on carbon emissions. Choosing to use public transport or drive your own car is a great deal more green than purchasing a plane ticket.

However, in vast countries like the United States, staycations have the potential to not be so green. With such long distances to travel, flying is often the only option and of course with flying involves huge carbon emissions. 

A return trip from Los Angeles to Orlando for a family of four generates a massive 6.5 tonnes of carbon. During the average lifetime of a single tree, it will absorb just one tonne of carbon meaning that seven trees will need to be planted to offset your vacation.

Surprisingly, cruise ships are also a very environmentally harmful way to holiday, they emit three times more carbon than aircraft. Approximately 14 ounces of CO2 is emitted per passenger, every 1000 yards travelled.

Great Green ‘Staycation’ Ideas

So what ways can you take to decrease your overall carbon footprint on vacation? Here are just a few ways you can have an eco-friendly vacation without leaving the country:

Rent an RV with a friend or with your family to minimise costs and your carbon footprint all at once. 1 in every 12 vehicle owning households in the US owns an RV, so it seems logical to utilise these vehicles and take a trip to a state or city you have never visited before. Over the course of the year an RV will emit

Take careful consideration when choosing the hotel
you stay in on your vacation to help to minimise your carbon footprint. Many hotels have “gone green” and now make small efforts to limit their negative impact on the environment. Efforts include only washing the bed sheets at the end of the visitor’s stay or switching to water efficient showerheads. Hundreds of thousands of hotels are joining The Green Hotels Association, like a Chicago Hyatt, which reduced their waste hauling by 80% since being part of the association.

Walking and biking holidays
are becoming increasingly popular in the US, with 34.54 million people going hiking or backpacking in the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 period. Vacations such as these are beneficial for your health, and as almost as environmentally friendly as you can possible be. In addition to this, there seems to be a positive pattern of camping in the States, 42.5 million Americans (14.9% of the population over the age of 6) went camping in 2011.

It seems that the recession has led to fewer Americans seeking to vacate abroad, and instead preferring the comfort of our own backyards. This, of course, is favourable to the welfare of the environment. So whether you’re staying in a beach hut by the sea, or a reliable hotel, camping or even a mobile home why not try your own version of a staycation this summer? You might find that it is less hassle and more enjoyable than venturing abroad.

Image Credit – Davido~O, RV at Redrock Canyon State Park