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Travel green. Help save the planet. Easy.
Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Travel Green

The choice to travel green doesn't mean that travelers have to give up all popular vacation destinations and stay in a jungle treehouse. In fact, just about any vacation can be converted to a green experience if tourists are willing to make a few alterations to the travel plan. Here are a few travel green tips for environmentally conscious travelers to keep in mind while planning their next solo or family getaway:

- When choosing a hotel, there are several important things to keep in mind when attempting to travel green. Always ask the following questions before committing to stay somewhere. Does the hotel have a recycling program? Does the hotel allow guests to reuse towels and sheets instead of having them changed everyday? Does the hotel employ consumption reduction techniques such as energy-efficient light bulbs, alternative energy sources and low-flow water systems?

- Regardless of which hotel is chosen, it is important to help conserve energy and resources when you travel green. For instance, take shorter showers and don't leave the tap running when not in use. When leaving the hotel for any reason, make sure to turn off the air-conditioners, heaters, overhead lights and any other electric devices in the room(s). Bring reusable cups and toiletries rather than using the hotel's disposable ones. Make sure to take advantage of any recycling programs offered and to leave feedback for the hotel about how they could improve their green practices.

- As far as transportation goes, look at all of the options carefully and pick the one that will work the best but still allow you to travel green. If possible, avoid flying by taking a train or renting a hybrid car to reach the chosen destination. If hybrid cars are unavailable, take the smallest car available that will meet the needs of the group traveling. Once the group arrives at the vacation spot, try to use public transportation to get around, or simply walk and bike to get around.

- Many people forget to travel green while sightseeing, but it is possible. Check with local tour guides to see which ones are environmentally responsible. Generally, smaller sightseeing groups are better for the environment, so keep that in mind when choosing a tour group.
- If the plan is to go hiking, make sure that everyone sticks to the marked trails and that no one tries to feed the wildlife. It is also vitally important when you travel green that any trash is thrown away in the proper manner and that fires are only lit in approved areas. Make sure all fires are completely extinguished before leaving.

- Keep green travel ideas in mind while souvenir shopping as well. You can accomplish this by only purchasing local products. When consumers refuse to buy items that are shipped or flown in, they are supporting the local economy and making a statement about the importance of protecting our environment and choosing to travel green.

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