The weather is warming up, which is a great reason to get outside and explore the world. If there are children in your life, you know that summer break can mean bored, restless kids with too much time on their hands and not enough to do. As a result, many of us plan a classic summer vacation that will enable us to see the world — or at least our state — in order to keep the kids entertained and see amazing sights that sadly may not be around much longer. But just taking the trip can have an impact on the earth we are working so hard to preserve for our future generations! If you drive or fly, you might worry about fossil fuel consumption. If you trek into nature, you may stress about negatively impacting the ecosystem.What a dilemma! Here are our tips for planning a fun, sustainable vacation that will be memorable, but not leave a big impact.
Bicycle Touring, also known as cycling vacations, involves, well, biking. They are self-contained cycling trips across long distances that prioritize pleasure and adventure over commuting or sport. Bike tours can last for a single day, or be multi-day adventures. You, your family and/or group of friends can go alone, or join a group on a pre-planned bike tour through companies like Backroads. You can gain information on finding tours, needed gear, and what to expect from rides. Whether you start from home, travel across the U.S. or abroad, with a bicycle tour, one thing is for sure – you won’t feel like you’ve spent your summer doing nothing!
Ecotourism is a form of tourism that involves visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed areas. It is intended as a low-impact and small-scale alternative to big business commercial tourism. Over the past three decades, ecotourism has increasingly become an environmental movement, as it offers travelers a glimpse into the human impact on the environment, and focuses on flora, fauna, and geography over activities and consumption. If you go the eco-tourism route, be sure to choose a responsible company, and not one that has been “greenwashing” to attract more customers. The International Ecotourism Society is a good resource for finding responsible organizations and programs.
If you want to relax, but don’t want to travel, plan a staycation where you stay at home and participate in leisure activities within driving distance. Instead of driving to the beach for a week, bike to the pool for a day of swimming. Spend a day at the zoo, and learn about the animals and their natural habitats. You can visit a museum, take a hike, play in a park, fly a kite, or do arts and crafts. If your day outside gets sidelined by rain, plan a day of movies — whether at a theatre (matinees cost less) or your home. You could even plan a movie marathon of a movie series (the Back to the Future series is a favorite of ours) or watch a string of movies featuring the same actor. If you have kids, give them a list of options and have them assist with the planning. For one week last summer, my family planned a combination staycation/local vacation. Read more about it here.
Why drive 500 miles to a specific beach or other popular vacation destination when you can take a local vacation within 100 miles of your home? Instead of hitting destinations that are often overcrowded and come with plenty of lines, choose a less-popular, but just as nice destination closer to home. Travel smart, not far. And if you feel guilty about putting carbon into the air, consider purchasing carbon offsets. Carbon Fund encourages us to plant trees to offset the carbon we put in the air via driving, flying and our every day activities. They will help you calculate your carbon footprint and then purchase trees — which somebody else plants! — to offset your carbon emissions. This is something I like to do whenever I fly.
Whatever you decide to do this summer, keep sustainability in mind. If you travel, try to stay in a place with easy access to public transportation — and then use it! If you stay home, go outside and get away from your electronics. If you decide to trek into nature, remember the old adage: Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. But most of all, have fun!
Latest posts by Lori Hill (see all)
- How I’ve Survived — and Thrived — at the CCAN “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge - January 18, 2019
- Healthy Halloween Treats - October 24, 2018
- Why You Don’t Need Solar Panels to Enjoy Solar Energy - October 12, 2018