As parents, we are often worried about how to combine traveling with kids and traveling in a way that is conscious of the environment. Here are some ideas for getting started on traveling “more green” with your family.
Planning Is Everything
The biggest key to travelling “green” is to have a plan. This means thinking ahead as to your needs and the needs of your family.
For example, if you don’t use plastic water bottles at home, why should you use them on the road? Each member of your family should carry a refillable water bottle with a good seal. You will have to empty the bottle to pass through security in airports (if you’re flying) but then you will be able to fill it up again on the other side. This saves money and the environment.
The same idea can be applied to food on the go. When you’re traveling, the kids will get hungry. Pack snacks in reusable containers. These will come in handy once you reach your destination as well and want to pack snacks for a day of hiking or lounging on the beach.
Make Conscious Choices
Something happens to us when we go on vacation — we suddenly want everything to be easier than it is at home. While travel is certainly an escape from the day to day, it doesn’t have to be an escape from making conscious choices. For example, consider how you use the kitchen in your vacation rental. Don’t fall into the trap of using paper plates simply because they are easy to clean up. Use the dishes provided and either get the kids involved in a sudsy wash up and wait for the dishwasher to be completely full before pressing start.
When stocking the kitchen, stop for a moment to question how your purchases effect the environment. What brand of dish soap are you buying? Is it friendly for the environment? Are you purchasing as much local, seasonal produce as possible? One great way to put the freshest produce on your table is to research farmers’ markets before you leave home. Visiting a farmers’ market is a fun and healthy way to spend a morning during your vacation.
One of the most difficult ways to be environmentally friendly is with transportation. Yet there are small decisions you can make that will make a big difference. If you’re planning a beach vacation, skip the jet ski ride in favor of kayaking excursion. Go snorkeling instead of jumping aboard a speedboat. These experiences are not only better for the environment, but will help your kids to slow down and appreciate their surroundings.
If you’re renting a car while on vacation, be aware of the type of car you rent and the type of fuel it requires. When driving your own car, choose the vehicle that is best for the environment and long distance journeys. When flying, there are many options for offsetting your carbon footprint that can be researched before leaving home. When traveling into a city, use public transportation instead of just hopping into a taxi. Research public transportation options in advance to ensure an easy transition upon arrival at your destination.
Give Your Kids an Appreciation of the World
The best way to encourage sustainability is to teach your kids about the environment. Travel allows your kids to discover marine life at aquariums or learn about where food comes from at farms. Take your kids apple picking in the fall or bring them to a dairy to learn about where milk and cheese come from. When kids are more engaged with the environment, they will be more likely to grow up and make responsible decisions.
With a few small changes, we can all travel in a way that is more beneficial for the environment.
About the Author
Laura Hoot has been writing professionally since 2004 and manages HomeAway’s Travel Ideas site. She also runs a household of three dogs, a cat, two chickens and a baby boy along with her husband. She’s written for USA Today’s travel site, GirlsGetaway.com , Cheapo Air, Travels.com, Trails.com, eFilmCritic.com, The Budget Fashionista, Travellogged.com and many more sites.