It’s Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial marker of the beginning of summer. For many Americans, that means the start of weekend getaways and the planning of long anticipated summer vacations.

That in mind, here’s 31 tips to help make those travel plans greener

 Go Greener

1.Before each trip work out the size of your carbon footprint (TerraPass and CarbonFund have calculators) and purchase carbon credits to offset your footprint.

2. Consider packing lighter, bring eco-friendly clothing, and download digital guidebooks.

3. Walk, bike, and take public transport where possible.

4. If driving long distance, consider renting a hybrid vehicle.

5. A significant percentage of an airplane’s carbon emissions happen at takeoff and landing, so aim to book non-stop flights.

6. Take a train, especially in Europe. There are often a quicker alternative to road and air and produce less carbon emissions.

7. Book flights only on airlines that have good green policies..

 

See Greener

8. Consider a volunteer vacation – a great way to give back and also help the environment.

9. Use environmentally responsible tour operators and aim to go on tours that offer smaller groups that make less of an environmental impact.

10. Incorporate ‘car free’ days into your trip and explore destinations by foot whenever possible. For longer treks, consider a bike or even a Segway.

11. Leave only footprints, stay on marked trails when hiking, and keep a safe distance from any animals you encounter

12.Don’t buy any souvenirs that are made from scarce natural resources or endangered animals

13. Focus more on bringing home memories, photographs, and experiences than physical things.

14.  If you must buy souvenirs, buy from local traders and small independent stores.

15. Instead of quickly moving from destination to destination, aim to stay in one or two places longer. You’ll use less fuel and it’s fun to live like a local for a while.

16. Use greenmap.org to discover what’s green in the city you are visiting

Eat Greener

17. Support local traders/farmers by visiting farmers’ markets and eating locally produce foods.

18. Many takeaway places only offer plastic utensils, so carry your own travel fork, spoon and knife to avoid having to use them

19. Eat only local foods to avoid carbon footprints on imported foods.

20. Pack an eco-friendly cotton tote bag to load up with fresh food bought at the local farmers’ market.

21. Avoid packaged foods by buying fresh.

 

Drink Greener

22. Avoid buying and throwing away bottles if possible by bringing your own  water bottle and water filtration kit

23. Visit eco-friendly wineries and breweries and drink organic beer or wine.

24. Carry a re-useable travel coffee mug

Stay Greener

25. Find green hotels through sites such as Green Hotel Association, Travelocity’s Green Hotel Directory, and Trip Advisor’s greenleaders program.

26. Conserve water during your stay by keeping showers short and turning off the water while brushing your teeth.

27. Reduce the amount of energy you use by turning off AC, heaters, lights, and TVs when you leave the hotel room.

28.Opt not to have the sheets and towels changed every day during your stay.

29. Consider staying at a working farm or vineyard – many offer accommodation and the opportunity to connect with an area’s agricultural heritage.

30. Recycle, recycle, recycle. And if the hotel doesn’t recycle, consider taking any empty bottles home or find a another local business that does recycle.

31. Bring and use your own toiletries rather than the miniature soaps and shampoos provided by hotels. The packaging surrounding these toiletries produces a huge amount of waste each year.

Happy green travels.

(photos @Liz Lewis)

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.