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Published on February 10th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

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Travel and Leisure: Make it Eco-Friendly!

shutterstock_114289738Traveling is a fun, adventurous way to explore new things and meet new people. Many people believe traveling involves a lot of expenses, and traditional ways of travel can harm the environment. Luckily, there are a number of ways to experience travel and leisure time that are not only more friendly to your pocket, but more friendly to the environment too!. Whether you’re heading south to find some tropical warmth during the winter season, or just going a few hundred miles away- these tips can help you be budget and environmentally friendly.

1. Use Green Transportation

Back in the day, traveling meant loading up the station wagon and driving straight through to wherever you were heading. Now we know that cars and planes have a big carbon footprint. But there are a number of other ways to get to where you’re going. Riding your bike is a very adventurous option for physically fit people who are going a few states or coast-to-coast. The number of cross-country bikers has increased dramatically over the last decade. Taking the train, sharing your car with other travelers and using public transportation as much as possible can help lower your environmental impact.

2. Environmentally Friendly Accommodations

While many hotels are working to lower energy consumption, the fact remains that a large hotel consumes way more energy than a local home. With websites such as airbnb.com and couch-surfing, finding local, small-scale accommodations is easier than ever. If you must stay at a hotel, find one that is actively lowering energy consumption. You can also request that the staff not wash your sheets during your stay.

3. Eat and Shop Local

This is true all the time, but especially when you’re visiting someplace new. Particularly, if that someplace new is a developing country. Imports have a deleterious effect on developing nations and island nations, supporting the local economy by purchasing local foods, staying at locally owned bed and breakfasts or hotels, and purchasing locally made crafts are all wonderful ways to support local economies and limit the environmental impact of importation.

4. Volunteer On Your Vacation

A great way to give more purpose to your vacation is to volunteer at the many eco-centers developing around the world. Eco-tourism and volunteerism is becoming more and more popular, especially in South and Central America. This gives you and your family a wonderful opportunity to experience a new culture, learn some new things and have a lot of fun being with local peoples.

5. Limit Consumption

While on vacation it can be easy to adopt an extra-consumptive mindset, using justifications like, “I’m on vacation, what the heck” or other vague reasons to be excessive. Keeping a limited consumption mindset is a great way to lower your overall earth impact. Fun is in abundance if you step outside of the consuming mindset, you can find a lot of service oriented ways to enjoy your vacation. And, if you want to save money, there are plenty of things to do that are free. Hiking, swimming, visiting local museums (on a free day) or just wandering through a new city are all exceptional ways to enjoy yourself without spending a dime or having any negative impact.

Traveling is such a wonderful way to experience the diverse world around us. It’s possible to do it without being destructive to the Earth. Following these tips can help you lower your overall carbon foot print and ensure budget-friendly, environmentally friendly activities for the whole family.

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