Is it possible to travel green as a family? Yes, with a little forethought and some ongoing awareness.
Here are some tips for lowering your carbon footprint on your next vacation.
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1. Pack light. Every extra pound uses more fuel, whether you are flying or driving.
2. Reuse those towels. Virtually every hotel asks travelers to hang up towels they are willing to reuse. Just say yes to reusing towels.
3. Turn off the lights. You do it to save energy at home, where you pay the electric bills. Do it on the road, too, and help the hotel reduce its unnecessary energy use. It won't save you money, but it could help save the ozone layer.
4. Turn off the A/C. When you leave the room, turn up the air conditioning or, better yet, turn it off altogether. (See No. 3 above.) It will help the environment and you and the kids won't freeze when you return to the room dripping wet from the pool.
5. Stay on the walkway. It's good advice whether you're hiking in a rain forest or walking down the street. Walking in the vegetation can damage the growth and kill the plant, animal and insect life that lives there.
6. Shop and eat locally. That can mean choosing to stay in a locally owned bed and breakfast (there are some that accept children) rather than a big resort owned by an anonymous corporation, or looking for a restaurant that uses locally grown foods and supports the local economy.
7. Think about ways to help. If you're traveling to a place plagued by poverty, such as a Caribbean island or Third World country, look for a local charity before you head off on vacation. Consider adding a visit to the charity to your vacation itinerary to help your children see how other children live. Then ask the kids to come up with some ideas about how your family can help. You might be surprised at their ideas.
Cindy Richards is a veteran travel writer and editor-in-chief of TravelingMom.com, an online family travel magazine.