Well, it’s March and I finally feel like we’re settling into a routine with our family’s goals for reducing our carbon footprint. Although I know I could always do more, my shopping bags are loaded with reusable containers for the grocery store, I never leave home without my travel mug (because – coffee!), I’m really trying to stay away from all plastic, and contacting my representatives has become a weekly ritual. Things were humming right along, that is until we went away for the weekend recently. (See Lily’s post on her family’s recent experience traveling as well).
Traveling with two young kids is not easy – it takes a lot of patience and a lot of crap to get a 3 1/2 year old and 1 year old packed and ready for a trip. Frankly, it was nothing short of a miracle that we got everyone in the car, fit all of our stuff, and made it to the airport on time to pick up my mom before heading south for my cousin’s wedding weekend (which was awesome, btw).
It was just a weekend away and we didn’t go far (although you’d never know that by the sheer volume of stuff we brought!) but I definitely learned a few lessons about being green while traveling. Just like how I tend to eat lots of junk food in the name of “vacation”, it was just as easy for me to forget our zero waste goals. Believe me when I say I probably did a lot more wrong than I did right this time around (let’s just say there may have been styrofoam involved). BUT, I am all about learning from my mistakes, so here are my goals for next time we travel. We’re heading to Florida to visit Mima in a couple of weeks, so I’m starting to plan now. I hope some of these ideas can be useful to you, too.
- Do your research
- Choose eco-friendly and sustainable destinations, travel companies, tour operators, etc.
- Make lists. And more lists. This is the only way I remember anything these days.
- Choose eco-friendly transport options
There’s a lot of info out there about how air travel is (usually) the least green mode of transport. Our recent little road trip had 5 of us stuffed into our Honda CRV so we definitely maximized the carpool possibilities there! But air travel simply can’t be avoided for cross-country trips like our upcoming one to Tampa, Florida. (Just for curiosity sake, Google maps says the trip would be 43 hours by car, 2 days 22 hours by greyhound bus, 246 hours by bike. Um, no thanks.)
- At your destination, walk, bike, carpool, and/or use public transportation as much as possible
- Choose lodging options that use eco-friendly practices including sustainable building materials, eco-friendly cleaning products, recycled paper goods, water and energy conservation, local food, natural toiletries, etc. Or even better – go camping!
One of our local independent hotels, Inn Marin, is a great model for this!
- Explore local farmers markets, shops, products, specialties, and foods
Locally produced goods have a smaller footprint and they make great souvenirs. Plus, I do love any excuse to try the local wines of any region.
- Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags, containers and utensils for food, water bottles, and travel mugs. (If you forget and need to use disposables, keep them to reuse throughout your trip).
- Bring your own snacks and food for cooking if you’ll have access to a kitchen
How do you stay “green” while traveling (especially with kids)? It’s harder than at home, but with some planning, it is definitely possible.
More green travel ideas/tips/resources: