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How to Travel Greener – Earth Day Travel Tips

Jamaica Plain 3

What a world!

It’s Earth Day today — a holiday I once passionately cared about. Still one of my most fond memories as a kid growing up in Texas was attending an Earth Day celebration in Austin where I got a baby evergreen tree. I went home and planted it in my backyard. The tree, smaller than 12-inch ruler when I planted it, eventually grew up to be much bigger than me. This tree is one of my defining moments of my childhood (until the day it died by some fungus/bacteria—ooops!).

Still, in Boston, my other hometown, Earth Day was always a celebration. One of my favorite radio stations, 92.9, puts on an annual EarthFest around the date. Vendors sell bio products and hawk earth-friendly things. Then there’s the outdoor music concert. EarthFest often coincides with the first days of warm weather in Boston so it was always one of my favorite springtime things to do in Boston.

But nowadays, thinking green is often farther down my list of priorities. It’s something I’m not proud of, but it seems that with age, comes less concern for the environment. I’m no scientist and I can’t back that up with any facts, but I believe as children we somehow feel a bit more connected to the world. With age comes too many more responsibilities, and too many chances to overlook the earth we stand upon. The Christian Science Monitor even published a story on making Earth Day, not just not just Earth a priority again.

Sun & Sky, Om Beach

How I plan to travel greener

Here are a few of the things I’m going to do to remain aware of this Earth of ours, a manifesto of sorts.

  1. Use water efficiently
    That means not running the water while I brush my teeth, taking shorter showers and, importantly, not requesting my linens and towels to be changed in my hotels during short stays.
  2. Recycle more
    Luckily I live in Germany where recycling is a huge part of the culture. Sorting my trash is often a nuisance, but it’s worth the slight hassle. When traveling, I’ll pay attention to where I throw out my plastic water bottles (which I already try to avoid using when possible).
  3. Print less paper tickets
    Having a smartphone comes in handy here—airlines, buses & trains increasingly accept digital tickets which helps you and helps the environment.
  4. Unplug my stuff
    This is something I have Alex to thank for. He always unplugs his appliances & electronics when leaving home. I need to make sure to unplug my lights and other electronics when I’m not at home, and not in the hotel either.
  5. Buy more locally produced products
    This is something I’m already doing when traveling, but need to do when at home as well. I often prefer the locally made souvenirs because then you’re supporting the local economy, but you’re also supporting the environment as there is fewer pollution involved in import/export.

The Environmental Protection Agency already has an extensive list of environmental-friendly travel tips. I highly recommend that you read them before your next holiday! But here’s the gist:

Look for hotels that encourage guests to use less water or energy. Hang up your towels to dry so you can use them again. Use the sheets more than a night or two. When you go out, look for local foods and souvenirs to reduce transportation. Before you go, unplug your computer, DVD player, and other electronics, and turn down your thermostat.

What are you doing to keep our planet green?

  1. Driving less and biking more, teaching my toddler to turn off the lights when she leaves a room; loving the little piece of nature we can control (our backyard), and unplugging whenever I can! :) Great post!

    • Adam says:

      Thanks Kiera. Biking more is definitely one of the things I do here in Berlin. I like the way you word “loving the little piece of nature” – that’s so important!

  2. OCDemon says:

    I just picked up a bottle of biodegradable no-rinse body wash and now I never have to shower ever again. Plus it smells exactly like baby wipes. Look out, ladies. Prepare to be amazed.

  3. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

    I like your approach Adam! Little things count! I think more overland travel instead of flights will be my method of travelling greener. Just need to get out of NZ first!

  4. Julika says:

    I couldn’t agree more! And I would also add Fly less! Not as in not fly at all, but look for alternatives. Especially in Europe you don’t have to fly to get somewhere — traveling by train is so much more eco-friendly and also a wonderful way to see more of a country! New train companies like Thalys even serve seasonal organic food on their trains! And traveling by bus is often even way cheaper than flying too (e.g. I paid 70 €uros for a return ticket from Cologne to Paris!).

    • Adam says:

      Hey Julika, Thanks so much for the tip about Thalys – didn’t know that they served organic food but I love that idea!

      Bus travel is definitely my preferred method in Europe – it’s often the cheapest.

  5. Rob Danforth says:

    Happy Earth Day – I try to stay green when I travel. There’s one Miami Lakes spa that is quite eco friendly from what I can tell. Hopefully, I can get an accommodation the next time we visit.

  6. I rarely hear much about Earth Day anymore, which is a shame. I tend to be a fairly green traveler, although I could definitely do #3 and #4 more.

    • Adam says:

      Yes I think it’s sad how little we seem to honk about our environmental impact – especially among travel bloggers.

  7. Beth Groffman says:

    I rarely hear about Earth day anymore. Sad. But we definitely recycle more now than we ever did and I am trying to be more aware of water conservation especially since water is such a factor in Texas. Nice article Adam.

  8. The beauty of cartography in our digital era says:

    […] to nature. There are plenty of companies and services which provide recycled paper products. This Earth of ours is important, and recycling is an important part of maintaing a well-designed […]

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