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A Beginner’s Guide to Eco-Friendly Vacation Planning with Kids

Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Olexandr Panchenko

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Can traveling be fun with kids? Can you relax during your much-awaited vacation on a Caribbean island with toddlers? Well, some might say no, but I say yes.  It all depends on what you value in your vacation. In my case, if you’ve enjoyed your vacations as a kid, chances are that you’ll also enjoy traveling with your family.

Traveling not only can expand your mind, it also promotes understanding and respecting other cultures. It also applies to your children. After all, your children won’t be fully able to grasp the interesting facts of other world cultures without seeing or experiencing them first hand, regardless of how much they learned in their classrooms or home tuition. Unfortunately, traveling irresponsibly can also some adverse effects on Mother Nature. So, it’s important that we minimize our carbon footprint to protect the environment.

What is Green Travel?

When it comes to vacationing, it seems many folks are emphasizing on green travel. So, what does it mean in broad terms? In short, it refers to responsible travel a practice that creates the least impact on the environment, society, and the economy as a whole. Some also refer it to as eco-tourism, which usually means traveling or vacationing responsibly especially in natural areas such as the Arabian Desert or National Parks.

For the sake of this article, we will focus on eco-friendly vacation planning.  Below we’ve put together a guide on how to plan an eco-friendly vacation. Let’s get started:

Things to Do Before Packing and Leaving Home

  1. Your eco-friendly vacation starts before you even start traveling. So, follow these steps before packing and leaving:
  2. Pack light and travel, that what I have been telling everyone embarking on a vacation. The more weight the cars, buses, trains, bikes, and planes have to carry, the more fuel they use, and the more pollutants are released into the atmosphere.
  3. Use water bottles and shopping bags that can be reused and if you’ve already had one lying around in your home, use it to carry your stuff. It will help you reduce your spending on wasteful packaging.
  4. Recycle anything you’ve bought for travel purpose if possible. This may include the cardboard packaging of your new phone charger or binoculars.
  5. Turn off or unplug all of your lights and electronics. Also, turn down the thermostat. Nobody will be staying in your house or room while you’re vacationing. An empty hose or room doesn’t need to remain heated. Doing this will not save you some cash on the electricity bill, but reduce your energy consumption as well.
  6. Suspend your newspaper or magazine subscription during the entire vacation. There isn’t anyone to read your newspapers.

Things to Do When You’re Traveling

Airplanes have been used as scapegoats by environmentalists for the biggest polluters, but actually, they’re the smallest polluters in terms of pounds of CO2 emitted per mile.  The worst carbon offenders are first-class jets and SUVs, which emit more of CO2 into the atmosphere per mile. Read on what you can do:

  1. Buses are the best option all around. Bus rides aren’t fun, can be boring, and there may be a chance you might contract some kind of infectious disease from the person next to you. But that’s a risk you’ve while using on public transportation, but it will cut carbon emissions nearly in half.
  2. For short trips, try taking the bus or the train instead of flying. This applies to both couples and single travelers.
  3. If the train or bus is out of sight, renting a car is a sensible choice. Try using a small car or a hybrid if it’s available.
  4. If traveling by air, use direct routes if it’s possible. Planes use the most fuel during takeoffs and landings, so if you fly directly to your destination, it will use less fuel.

Keep it Green during Your Stay:

Whether you’re staying in a hotel or using AirBnb, follow these steps to minimize environmental impact.

  1. Stay in a green hotel. You can find out whether a hotel has high environmental ethics by visiting their website or calling them and asking questions like is the hotel owned locally? Are the staff locals? Does the hotel have a recycling program? How does the hotel reduce its energy usage?
  2. When staying the hotel, keep your showers short, don’t flush unnecessarily, and shut off the taps while brushing your teeth. Don’t wash your sheets or towels unless it’s a necessity. Also, turn off the TV, lights, air-conditioning or whatever before you go outside.
  3. Walk whenever it’s possible or use public transportation or rent a bicycle. If driving, don’t drive fast and avoid starting and stopping your car frequently.
  4. Buy meals, foods, and other products from local vendors. Try to eat local or organic foods or include them in every dish. While shopping, use bags that can be reused or recycled to carry items.

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