Sun-sational Tips for a Sustainable Summer Vacation
If you already live a sustainable lifestyle, why would you take a vacation from it when you’re actually on vacation? If you’re ready to add some R & R to your reduce, reuse, recycle routine, here’s how to get away without breaking away from your green lifestyle.
When choosing a vacation spot, look for a destination that focuses on conservation, like a state or national park. California alone has 280 state parks (with 15,000 campsites) with forest, desert, lake, and beach landscapes. Vacationing in nature provides the perfect way to unplug and serves as a bold reminder that when you’re living a green lifestyle, you’re protecting our beautiful planet.
For those who’d prefer a getaway with more amenities, consider booking a room at an eco-friendly hotel or resort. National Geographic has a catalog of unique hotels around the world that specialize in one-of-a-kind sustainable experiences. A simple Internet search can also be helpful—features to look for might include electric vehicle charging stations, bike rentals, biodegradable hotel key cards, water and energy conservation measures, soap and shampoo dispensers, farm-to-fork menus, and/or a less-waste spa. Choosing a location that is centrally located and easy to navigate on foot, by bike, or by public transportation is a great way to keep your vacation air clean.
Claiming Your Baggage
What you pack for your trip is key—the lighter your bag, the less energy you use to get it to your destination. Packing clothing you can wear multiple times in different ways will make getting ready a whole lot easier, save space, save money since you don’t have to pay extra baggage fees, and allow you to keep tabs on your luggage at all times. See if you can stay away from packing items in plastic bags, and try separating clean clothes and shoes using a fabric pouch instead.
Clean, Green, and Pristine
It’s important to pack eco-friendly toiletries. Sure, most hotels have those adorably convenient mini shampoos, soaps, and lotions, but if you’re not keen on the plastic waste or you’re not staying in a traditional hotel, bringing your own toiletries is important. Start with a shampoo bar! Similar to bars of soap, a shampoo bar is meant for your hair and is a great, and often package-free, way to keep your locks squeaky clean while reducing waste. Don’t stop at a shampoo bar—bring your own bar of soap (or use your shampoo bar for your body), reusable razor, and bamboo toothbrush (a more sustainable and biodegradable option). Try storing your items in environmentally friendly carriers like a soap tin, small jar, or fabric pouch.
Skip the Souvenirs
It’s so fun to bring home a little trinket of your fun-filled trip, whether it’s for yourself or for a loved one, but consider how many items you’ll bring home and where they’ll end up. An alternative would be to send an email or post photos on social media to let people know about your amazing trip. If you just can’t avoid purchasing a souvenir for your best friend or grandma, find something that is high-quality (it won’t wear out easily and end up in the landfill), locally made (less energy for travel), and meaningful (so they won’t just let it collect dust or toss it in the trash).
Keeping Yourself Busy
If you’re an active type of vacationer, find out if there are things you can do that align with your green lifestyle. A popular trend among travelers is do-good activities like a lake cleanup boat ride, saving sea turtles, or taking care of your favorite hiking trail. It’s the perfect way to show your love to the planet, see the local scenery, absorb local color, and feel good about what you’re doing. And keep in mind, the activity doesn’t have to take up your whole holiday—you can still take time to rest and relax.
Half the fun of getting out of town is sampling the local cuisine! Finding a restaurant that serves locally sourced food is a great way to support surrounding farms and businesses. It’s also an excellent way to cut down on fuel and emissions that come from shipping non-local foods. Try the coffee in Seattle, the gumbo in New Orleans, the barbecue in Texas, the lobster in Maine, or the sourdough in San Francisco!
Before You Go
Before you pack up and hit the road, make sure to prepare your home for your absence. Aside from securing your home, turn your thermostat to “away” temperatures so you won’t be wasting energy on heating and air conditioning that you won’t be around to enjoy. Some recommend turning your thermostat to 85 degrees when you’re gone in the summer and 60 degrees when you’re gone in the winter. Ultimately, you need to decide what you’re comfortable with, especially if you have pets or plants that could be affected by the temperature changes. A smart thermostat with an app linked to your phone might be a good option, and many utility companies provide discounts and rebates. Also, don’t forget to unplug any unnecessary appliances that could suck up a bunch of energy. Finally, have the post office hold any of your mail, or better yet, put a stop to unwanted junk mail and paper bills by opting out.
Now, have a wonderful, fun, safe, rewarding, and eco-friendly vacation wherever you end up on the globe!