Maybe it’s your New Year’s resolution or maybe you have been living “green” for awhile, but it’s safe to say that sustainable living is not just a fad. It’s a responsible life choice if we want to maintain our quality of life and the planet we call home. Sustainable living doesn’t begin and end with recycling and reusable grocery bags. If you’re truly going to live “green”, this should extend to your travel habits as well.
In fact, it’s even more important to pay attention to your waste while traveling
because oftentimes vacations lead to many non-eco friendly choices: unnecessary
plastics, more waste, one-use containers, etc. And if you’re traveling as a
family, that just means more waste in general. It’s easy to get in the mindset
of “I’m on vacation, but I do well at home”, but over the years this has added
Check out several steps you can take to plan a
sustainable and responsible family vacation.
1. Purchase Carbon-Offsets
for Your Flights
This growing trend is an easy way that
travelers can work together to reduce their overall carbon footprint, and a
flight has a big effect. Most forms of travel generate emissions in the form of
carbon, so to combat this, carbon-offset companies have created a formula to
calculate the emissions from your vacation. Then, these programs will match you
with a meaningful project that puts those carbons back into the environment –
for example, planting 100 trees in the Amazon. The fee you pay will ensure that
this project gets completed, thus completing the circle and helping cancel out
the damages your flight may have cost the planet.
In addition to helping the plant, most companies
utilize local communities to carry out the projects, which can play a big role
in the local economies you are visiting as well. You can check out Discover
Corps’ carbon-offsetting program here and
learn more about how this can work when it comes to travel.
2. Choose Eco-Friendly
Once you arrive at your destination, consider
biking, walking, or using public forms of transportation. Discuss with your
children the environmental benefits of using these forms of transportation
instead of renting a car. Check with your hotel as they may offer bikes and
have bike racks available for use. If you’re in a city, you may even consider
renting an electric vehicle.
3. Book a Sustainable Hotel
Many hotels are meeting the criteria necessary
to become eco-friendly. There are several guidelines a hotel must follow in
order to be labeled an environmentally sustainable hotel. Some
of them include: dependence on the natural environment, proven
contribution to conservation, and incorporating local culture.
Hotels around the globe are working to
conserve energy and water. This ranges from things like kitchen equipment to
linen and towel reuse programs. Other sustainable options hotels are offering
include toxic-free cleaning products, fresh local produce, and plastic-free
room keys. You can make an informed decision by checking out the hotel’s
website or calling the front desk to inquire about sustainable efforts.
Talk to your kids about the efforts a hotel is
making to stay green, and explain to them the importance of conserving
resources. They should know why they’re reusing towels, and why it’s important
to take shorter showers and turn the water off when brushing their teeth. If
they understand the why, they’re more likely to make good choices.
When packing for your trip, consider bringing
along reusable bags, food containers, and water bottles whenever possible. When
you are planning out your day, think ahead and pack some snacks to eliminate
purchasing plastic convenience items (because with kids, you know you’ll need
snacks!). If you do have to purchase plastic, consider reusing it or recycling
it on your own if you are unable to find proper receptacles. If you are dining
out, consider asking if they have paper straws instead of plastic (you would be
surprised how much of the world is adopting this), or bring along a metal straw
if preferred or if your children need one.
5. Book an Organized Tour
Oftentimes there is little planning or thought
given to the lasting impacts of tourism to a destination. Mass tourism can have
negative environmental, economic, and social impacts to an area. Find a travel
agent or a sustainable travel company that
specializes in eco-friendly tourism. They can help you book a tour that focuses
on social responsibility. It isn’t always easy to navigate, so letting someone
else do the work for you is usually a great way to go that can also be
cost-effective for a family.
Another component to consider is voluntourism.
These tours are a great way to give a hands-on experience for your youngsters,
all while leaving a lasting impact on your destination of choice. Take advantage
of a great learning experience as well as an opportunity to educate your family
on social responsibility, volunteering, and being environmentally conscious.
As tourism continues to increase, it’s more
and more important that we become conscientious travelers. Traveling with our
environment in mind can support local communities and conserve cultures and
habitats. Taking a few extra minutes to think about your impact on the world
can make a huge difference, and following the steps above can really make a
difference when it comes to preserving your destination of choice. You and your
family can also make a pledge to travel better.
Learn to leave a lasting impression and less
of a carbon footprint, and then instill these values in your children so that
the generations to come know and understand the importance of conserving
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Marketing Manager
for Discover Corps,
an organization offering Vacations with Purpose for families and friends
across the globe. An adventure lover herself, Amanda believes sustainable,
responsible travel can change the world. Connect with her for content marketing services at