In honor of this month’s upcoming Earth Day, I’ve come up with The Sigma Kappa Jetsetter’s Guide to Being Green. As ecologically conscious as we may likely be at home, there’s something about being away that tends to make us forget to “mind our manners” when it comes to being green. Perhaps it’s the excitement of being on vacation, enjoying big, luxurious rooms and amenities. Or the exhaustion that sets in from being on the road for business that makes us too lazy to be mindful. Whatever the case, there’s no excuse not to be green wherever you are. Here are some super simple travel tips to be a little more mindful of the Earth we’ve been lucky to inherit:
While Preparing for Your Trip
- If you have a smart phone, check for the option to download a paperless boarding pass pilot. The boarding pass pilot will download the bar code straight to your phone, allowing the airlines to scan your phone instead of a ticket when boarding. According to TSA’s website, “As of March 2012, the pilot was operating at 110 U.S. airports with nine airlines: Alaska, American, British Airways, Continental, Delta, Lufthansa, United, US Airways and Virgin America.”
- Research for green hotels in the area you plan to visit. There are so many resources for booking hotels that are environmentally conscious. Here are just a few I found:
- Minimize the amount of paper you print out and carry with you. There are tons of apps available on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry phones to help organize your entire trip. They will keep track of everything from flight, car rental and hotel confirmation numbers and even have extra features like currency converters and real time flight status updates.
While On Your Trip
- Consider not renting a car. There’s no better way to get to know a new city than by traveling the way the locals do. Consider jumping on the subway or tram whenever possible. Not only is it so much cheaper and greener, but it’s also a great way to feel a part of the city you’re visiting. I remember winter train rides in Japan were so quiet, warm and peaceful. The Japanese people were very polite, all phones were switched to “manner mode” and telephone conversations were not allowed, a nice way to catch a nap after a day of touring or shopping. Australian train rides were usually the opposite- rambunctious, full of energy, and sometimes people pre-gaming right there in the train for the next footy match (Australian rules football). What a great way to experience a city! If you absolutely need a car while traveling, try to book a car ahead and request a hybrid vehicle.
- When you get to your hotel, make sure you are still aware of how much water you are using. This includes being conscious of how often you ask housekeeping to tend to your room and change out towels and linens. If you are staying for less than a week, follow the hotel guidelines for conserving the towels and linens in your room.
- If you don’t need or like the freebies in your hotel room (lotions, shampoo, soaps, etc.), leave them exactly where they are. Let the hotel staff save them for the next guest. If you keep them and use them, great. If you keep them and hoard them, consider donating your collection to a local shelter. I volunteered at a food bank that would also put together small care packages for the homeless, full of soaps and lotions, many times in the same small bottles we find at hotels. I had a friend who used to collect hotel items from everyone she knew and would help put together similar baskets for the homeless.
- When heading out for the day, be sure to turn off lights, TV, AC/heat just as you would at home.
- Use rechargeable batteries for your digital camera instead of disposables.
- While dining out, try to consume locally grown meats and produce.
We may not feel like we’re making a big difference when it comes to helping keep our planet green, but the key is to practice the little things because they surely make a big difference. Be mindful of the choices you make as you enjoy your travels!
This post was written by Janah Valenzuela. Contact Janah at email@example.com
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