5 Tips for Traveling with a Smaller Carbon Footprint

5 Tips for Traveling with a Smaller Carbon Footprint
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David Masters / Foter / CC BY

Being aware of the environment is a good thing. There are tons of ways that you can personally reduce your carbon footprint and do your part in protecting the environment. Arguably the worst environmental damage comes from the huge amount of travel people do. While planning your next big trip, keep these five tips in mind. All of them are good ways to reduce your negative impact on the environment.

1. Method of transportation
The very first thing to consider is the method of transportation. Flying and driving are the two most impactful methods. If at all possible, travel by train, bus, or some other form of ground-based public transportation. If you choose to fly, do whatever you can to make the flight affect your carbon footprint less. For example, use the bathroom before the flight and sit in economy class. Many airlines offer programs to help you offset your carbon footprint. If traveling by car, avoid any traffic and attempt to maintain a good MPG.

2. Hotel room
When you arrive at your location, there are a few things that you can do too. Whenever you are not using them, turn things off. This should go without saying, but leaving on the AC/heat or lights can easily waste a ton of energy. Most hotels have programs where they encourage guests to hang their towels up after use so housekeeping does not needlessly waste water cleaning them. Reuse your towels once or twice, and you will save a lot of unnecessary water and energy usage. When considering hotel locations, find the closest location possible to your final destination. In addition, do some research on greener” hotels. They exist in many popular destinations and may drastically reduce your footprint.

3. Consider your destination
Where you are actually going is always important for the trip, but carefully take into account a few factors before deciding. How much time will be spent driving around in a rental car? Can you walk anywhere? Is it a location that tends to waste energy (like Las Vegas)? Consider these questions, and make your travel decisions carefully. Always be considering your carbon footprint.

4. Purchase carbon offsets
Carbon offsets are basically a way for people to fund environmentally important projects to help offset the amount of damage they did personally. Many airlines offer carbon offsets.  Some quick googling will show sites like carbonfund.org and nativeenergy.com. On these websites, you can purchase “carbon offsets.” What you need to know first though is how much you actually would need to buy.

5. How to be aware
Be aware of what you are doing. There are a lot of online calculators to help you keep track of your carbon usage, but log it yourself too. Bring a travel log and write down all of the things you think affected the environment. When you return home, calculate it and purchase carbon offsets. Even if you don’t choose to purchase offsets, being aware of your habits will help with the amount of damage you may do.
Traveling is fun and many people will be doing a lot of it this summer. You may be just one person among billions but doing your part for the environment is still important. Be aware of your carbon footprint while traveling and in other parts of your life. Take steps to reduce that footprint and you will have done your duty to keep Earth clean.

About the Author
John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save with tips on everything from how to reduce your carbon footprint to the best high interest cd.

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