10 tips to greener, cleaner travel

Al Gore took a lot of heat for flying around the world promoting his plan to fight global warming. Was the environmental activist a part of the solution or just another part of the problem?

The reality is that travel is inherently un-green. We drive hundreds more miles than we normally would or climb aboard a jumbo jet to zip off to some destination, where we proceed to luxuriate in having someone else make the bed, clean the room and leave fresh towels every day.

But travel can be green, or at least greener, by following these tips:

  1. Print your Mapquest directions on recycled paper. Better yet, use a GPS to get you there and let the kids learn to navigate following the route on an old-fashioned reusable paper map.

  2. Pack your snacks in reusable containers.

  3. Bring a refillable water bottle and, unless the water at your destination is unsafe to drink, refill it regularly rather than buying and throwing away plastic water bottles.

  4. Turn off the TV, lights and air conditioning when you leave your hotel room. It will only take a few minutes to cool the room when you return.

  5. Repeat this motto: Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.

  6. Drive 55. It saves gas as well as lives.

  7. Pack light. Whether you’re flying or driving, the extra weight increases fuel consumption. Besides it’s easier to pull a small roll-aboard suitcase than lug a huge overpacked one.
  8. Shop and eat locally. Stay in a locally owned bed and breakfast (an increasing number accept children) and eat in restaurants that use locally grown foods and support the local economy.

  9. Think about ways to help. Consider bringing things you can donate to a local charity, particularly if you’re traveling to a place plagued by poverty, such as a Caribbean island. Maybe you can leave the books you finished reading or the summer clothes your kids will outgrow by next year. Ask the kids to come up with other ideas about how your family can help. They might surprise you.

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