Long weekends are the perfect excuse to get out of town. Escaping from the daily routine of life and work is great for the soul, but long distance travel usually requires a fossil fuel-burning vehicle, and that’s hard on the planet.
If you’re planning to visit family or a much needed summer getaway, it’s important to remember the impact it travel has on your carbon footprint. The idea of waking up at home and falling asleep at the beach may sound tantalizing…until you realize how many climate change-increasing greenhouse gases it sends up into the atmosphere.
It’s not realistic (or healthy) to expect that you’ll stay at home this entire summer, but when you travel, there are steps you can take to make your vacation as low-impact as possible.
When You Fly
Did you know that you’d could drive a regular car for about a year before it equals the carbon emissions of a single trans-Atlantic flight? When you must fly, try to choose a direct flight, as the take-off and landing are the most carbon intensive portion of the trip. You can also choose to fly on airlines that are taking steps to reduce their fuel consumption, like American Airlines, Continental, or Virgin Atlantic.
And, as HelpSaveEarth.org points out, “if you wanna save a little CO2, use the airport lavatory before you board the plane, not the one on the plane, since the fuel used for every mile-high flush could run a car for 6 miles. Each lavatory visit emits 5.6 lbs of CO2 due to energy used flushing the toilet (airplanes use powered vacuums, not gravity like toilets at home).”
When You Drive
If you’ve got road trip fever, it might be tempting to load up the car with everything you might ever need, but don’t! Travel light and keep your tires properly tire inflated to ensure the best fuel economy possible. If there are items that you can rent or borrow when you arrive at your destination, leave yours at home.
Depending on the type of car you drive (and your budget) it might also be a good idea to rent a car. Many rental companies have started offering electric vehicles, hybrids, and other super efficient vehicles that will actually help you save money on gas.
When You Arrive
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, whether it’s Grandma’s house or a beachside hotel, do your sightseeing without the car. Rent bikes, walk or use public transportation. Many tourist destinations are specifically designed to be walkable.
Choose fun activities that can be completed under human power. Instead of renting jet skis, try kayaking; instead of dune buggies, try mountain biking; instead of the amusement park, go for a hike. Not only will you feel healthier at the end of the day, you’ll save money, reduce carbon emissions, and enjoy a more authentic experience that you’ll remember forever.
How did you celebrate the long weekend? Got green travel tips? Share them in a comment!
Image Credit: Flickr – Sister 72