Although in recent years hotel chains have become more conscientious about carbon emissions, large hotel chains generally amount to large carbon footprints because electricity and water are used in high quantities. Even those cute tiny shampoo and conditioner bottles are quite wasteful when you consider the huge amount of plastic that goes into their packaging and how often they’re thrown away half-used. Choosing alternative lodging options can spice up your vacation and help ease the burden on the environment.
1. One awesome way to go greener while traveling is to stay on a sustainable farm when you reach your destination. There are great programs that will let you stay at farms in destinations like the Virgin Islands, South America and Ireland. Your vacation will involve a little bit of elbow grease, but in return for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the knowledge that your trip will not be taken at the planet’s expense.
2. Camping is another way to conserve while traveling. It’s a great way to practice your wilderness skills and feel closer to nature. Camping is inexpensive and will give you an opportunity to enjoy outdoor sports and recreation like kayaking and hiking. The US has an abundance of beautiful natural resources to discover, with 58 designated National Parks throughout the country, many of which offer areas for camping.
Usually, you can choose from different degrees of “rustic” while camping. With a little searching and an adventurous spirit, you can find something that you’re sure to enjoy, whether you prefer campsites with running water and electricity or backwoods camping.
3. You could also choose a hostel stay to avoid lodging at a high-consumption hotel chain. Hostels are an international travel staple and are increasingly becoming more available in the US. Because this type of lodging facility is generally smaller, their carbon footprints will logically be smaller as well.
The culture surrounding hostel stays also facilitates sharing and recycling. Most rooms are shared, with several guests bunking together, meaning more efficient use of resources. Hostels are usually less expensive than hotel rooms, and the social nature highly encourages making new friends.
4. Another greener traveling option is Couchsurfing. This is an online community of both travelers and hosts from around the world. You can create a profile for yourself and then search for and connect with people who will let you stay with them at your destination. Hosts and Surfers alike can review one another on their online profiles so that future participants can have a sense of what potential hosts and surfers are like.
Staying with locals at your destination gives you the advantage of hosts who knowledgeable about the area. The Couchsurfing community also organizes activities for members. By Couchsurfing, you can avoid high-consumption hotel chains and conserve by sharing resources with new friends. As if Couchsurfing doesn’t sound awesome enough already, it’s usually totally free to stay with hosts.
Step out of your comfort zone and try something new on your next vacation. Using an alternative lodging option can save you money, make you some new friends and make traveling gentler on the planet!
About the Author: Ally Levise is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy and a writer/waitress extraordinaire currently residing in Longmont, CO. She enjoys cooking, reading, hiking and her role as dog-mom to a mischievous adopted pup. She durrently writes for GreenJoyment and other sites online.