How to Plan an Eco Friendly Vacation

Seven Methods:Plan to travel lightPlan eco-friendly transportation methodsFind eco-friendly hotels and resortsPlan to live green at your place of stayPlan eco-friendly vacation activitiesSupport the localsMinimize your impact generally when traveling

Taking an eco-friendly vacation can help you to do your part to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is generally released into the air when vacationing, thereby reducing your pollution and global warming impact. Other considerations include saving resources, supporting local people's livelihoods and ensuring that your footprint is smaller than it might otherwise be if you took a vacation without considering these things.

When planning an eco-friendly vacation, it's important to begin with your methods of transportation and the places you stay, such as hotels or resorts that practice green living methods, such as recycling and perhaps even using renewable energy sources. Your destination is also key to your eco-friendly vacationing experience––by choosing a location in which you can participate in outdoors activities and other events that contribute to green living, you support the efforts of those countries and organizations trying to increase the eco-friendliness of their practices.


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    Keep it simple. Travelers who want to be eco-aware while traveling can sometimes feel that adding yet another layer of "to-do's" is overwhelming. Yet, responsible eco-travel is not difficult and is generally about being considerate:
    • Travel as lightly as you can
    • Choose transportation that minimizes your impact
    • Stay in accommodation that aims to minimize its impact on the environment
    • Choose vacation activities that are eco-friendly
    • Be conscious that your small actions do add up, such as unplugging your charger when it's done
    • Be considerate of the social impacts and support the local economy, interact appropriately with the locals and if possible, contribute to local environmental projects in some way.
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    Approach planning an eco-vacation as a fun exercise. There's no need to have a hair shirt mentality about eco-vacations. Eco-friendly accommodation and activities are now commonplace and often have very high standards. It's easy to find eco-travel opportunities using the internet, so you don't have to research the hard way anymore. And there is also a range of prices from budget to top end prices, so you can choose the price according to your available funds and still have a great experience.
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    Ask for assurance of quality before you go. Email and the internet make it easy to ask in advance for the qualifications or accreditation of places you want to visit and stay at. Prefer places that use the accreditation of independent auditors rather than simply stating "eco" in front of their services. Always check the labels to avoid green washing.
    • Check out The International Ecotourism Society at for more information on quality assurance of your eco-vacation choices. This site provides an interactive online directory to help you.

Method 1
Plan to travel light

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    Pack lightly. Lighter baggage from passengers reduces fuel emissions, plus it will enable you to avoid additional baggage costs, carriage costs and you'll have less things to worry about guarding and carrying. Some ideas to help you include:

Method 2
Plan eco-friendly transportation methods

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    Seek to travel as much as often as the average local does––by public transportation. It's even better if you can get to your destination using public transportation; trains and buses are a preferred method for getting around in many places of the world––traveling this way helps to reduce the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere.
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    Take direct flights or one-stop flights to your destination if you're required to travel by airplane. Airplanes emit more carbon into the air than any other transportation method, and is often more harmful to the environment due to pollutants being released at high altitudes. options.
    • Always prefer staying longer at your destination rather than making many air trips to different locations. If possible, avoid travel by air once at your destination––use other less fuel-intensive means once you're at the destination.
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    Use eco-friendly transportation methods upon arriving at your destination. Walking, riding bicycles, and using public transportation are ideal ways to travel green as opposed to driving a rental car or taking taxi cabs while on vacation.
    • Inquire with your hotel or resort to determine whether bicycle rentals, trams or shuttles are available to use throughout your stay.

Method 3
Find eco-friendly hotels and resorts

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    Choose hotels that practice green living techniques. Many hotels have become eco-friendly in which they provide non-toxic bedding, use renewable energy, use non-toxic cleaning products, and contain recycling facilities. Some hotels also insist on serving organic meals and using recyclable products. Online searches have made it much easier to find these places, and there are often books in the library that provide a round-up of green hotels and resorts around the world.
    • If it's not clear from the website or brochure information, contact hotels directly to inquire whether or not they provide green and eco-friendly accommodations. Generally this is a major selling feature now, so most will make it clear in their promotional materials.
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    Find eco-friendly hotels and resorts on the Internet. For example, a list of eco-friendly resort options is available on the "Boston Today's Mama" website which is provided to you in the Sources section of this article. Many blogs written by eco-conscious travelers will give you excellent insights into places to stay and might include recommendations.
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    Make sure that the hotel you will be staying at publicly advertises being eco-friendly and has a list of features and services that justify its being eco-friendly.

Method 4
Plan to live green at your place of stay

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    Practice green living while at your hotel, resort or other place of stay. In addition to staying at an eco-friendly place, you can do your part to minimize the environmental impact of your travel. Things you can do to help include:
    • Reuse bedding and towels. If the hotel offers this as a feature, be sure to do as instructed so that the items are not taken away by cleaners each day.
    • Recycle all products that are recyclable. If the place you're staying in doesn't seem to have recycling facilities, inquire at the front desk about where you can find them. Most green hotels and resorts will use in-room or nearby recycling bins to assist you.
    • Only charge as much as needed and then remove the charger from the plug. Once the charger indicates that your batteries have been recharged, leaving them in any longer is a waste of energy.
    • Wash your clothes by hand in your room or use an efficient local laundromat rather than resorting to dry cleaning services.
    • Switch off lights and appliances before leaving the room. When in your room, only use those lights and appliances that you really need to use. Perhaps you can open a window instead of turning on the air conditioning, or just use a bedside light instead of the overhead lights.
    • Treat water as the precious resource that it is. Use only as much as you need to shower/bathe and to clean your teeth and flush. If the hotel or resort is experiencing water shortages, follow the instructions for saving water as indicated by the establishment. Do your bit to ensure that other people can enjoy what you're enjoying.
    • Share books instead of buying new ones. Once you've read your book, leave it at the place of stay for the next traveler to enjoy. Many places now provide for this exchange of books, allowing you to pick up a new one for free to read as well.

Method 5
Plan eco-friendly vacation activities

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    Perform a variety of outdoors activities that let you see the destination and keep you fit as well. Being outdoors and taking hikes and walks around parks, towns, and in other natural elements will prevent you from having to use energy and other resources often needed for indoor activities. It will also ensure that you get to see the destination firsthand and feel a part of what the locals experience too.
    • Speak with a representative at your hotel or resort for guidance and recommendations on local activities you can experience that occur outdoors and that are eco-friendly.
    • Visit the "Independent Traveler" website listed in the Sources section of this article, then scroll down to the section entitled "Eco-Friendly Tour Operators." Every link within this category will take you to a company that specializes in eco-friendly tours around the world in multiple counties.

Method 6
Support the locals

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    Be aware of the social impacts of your travel. Social and environmental impacts are interlinked and it's important to be considerate of both. Observe the local ways and be respectful of them. Listen more than you talk and immerse yourself in the experience. It's beneficial to learn some background information about the culture, history, geography and beliefs of the destination you've traveled to. This will enable you to better appreciate what you're observing and will also ensure that you don't accidentally insult anyone. This is simply a case of being a "good guest".
    • Always ask before taking close-up photographs of people. It's courteous and in a world where cameras are everywhere now, it sets you apart as someone who acknowledges the dignity of your human subjects.
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    Support the local economy as much as you can. Eat at locally owned restaurants, patronize local activities such as farmers running horse-riding activities and indigenous people taking you on guided expeditions to see the land as they do and look for authentic locally-made souvenirs made from renewable resources.
    • Visiting farmer's markets and local grocery stores can help support locals while reducing your environmental impact.
    • Hire local guides wherever possible.
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    Participate in an environmental program that benefits your vacation locale. In some cases, depending on where you travel, you can volunteer for activities to improve the environment or that support local businesses.
    • Visit the "Earth Times" website provided to you in the Sources section of this article, then click on the link that reads "Eco-friendly vacations" within the body of that article. You will be re-directed to a website that features various vacation destinations and locales that provide green activities.

Method 7
Minimize your impact generally when traveling

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    Consider the many other ways that you might be able to minimize your impact when traveling and plan accordingly. Some of these ways won't be apparent to you until you are actually traveling, so be ready to adjust your approach as you go. A few of the things you might like to consider in advance include:
    • Avoid using disposable containers and items wherever possible. Eat at places that either have eco-friendly options or where you can use your own reusable container.
    • Take a bottle for your water and avoid buying bottled water where it is safe to do this. Where it is not safe to do so, at least see if it's possible to refill a reusable bottle at safe water locations. Only resort to bottled water where your health would otherwise be compromised.
    • Stay on walking trails, don't touch cultural artifacts and the like when told not to and use your common sense about preserving human and natural heritage.
    • Pack it in and pack it out. Never leave your trash anywhere than the appropriate disposal places.
    • Never buy plant or animal products that are endangered.
    • Consider offsetting your unavoidable carbon footprint. Choose a reputable carbon offsetting program to do this.


  • If you want to take an eco-friendly vacation similar to a "road trip," consider taking a scenic train trip cross-country or through a specific region. For example, if you live in the United States, you can take a scenic train trip vacation along the length of the Pacific coast or through the Rocky Mountains.
  • Subscribe to eco-friendly travel magazines, list serves and websites to gain more tips about eco-travel and eco-friendly vacations. Examples of eco-travel magazines and websites are "Green Earth Travel" and "Eco Tourismlogue." You can also go to your Internet search engine and enter keywords such as "eco-friendly vacation magazines" to find additional publications.
  • Pack eco-friendly items to take with you to your vacation destination to contribute to your green experience; such as reusable water bottles, rechargeable batteries, biodegradable toilet paper, and your own supply of shampoo and soap. Bringing these items will help cut down on landfill or sewage waste at your travel destination.

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