eco-friendly-travelWe try to live our lives at home fully aware of the waste we create and the energy we use. We recycle. We take short showers. We carry bags into local markets when we shop for our food.

Then we go on vacation to relax, soak in a hot tub, and drink milkshakes – or something a little stronger. We go by car. We go by plane. Somehow we go about now.

Road trips, in addition to racking up gas mileage, often involve fast food – and the containers it comes in. Fly on a plane and it’s hard to avoid the plastic cups flight attendants hand you with a smile.

So how, as environmentally-minded people, do we keep our carbon footprints down when we hit the road?

Here are a couple tips you might want to take into account as you prepare to head out of town leave for spring break and off-season.

Packing up:

• Turn your water heater off or down. Nobody’s using it while your away, so let’s save money and energy on your household’s base load.
• Turn your heat and/or thermostat down or off
• Don’t forget your to-go ware (water bottles, coffee mugs, silverware, etc.) They don’t take much room and will definitely come in handy.
• Pack yourself some snacks. It pays to plan ahead. Save money by not buying fast food and eat healthier.
• Going somewhere the tap water isn’t tasty? Bring a filter and cut down on bottled water.
• Don’t forget a re-usable grocery bag or two.
• Did you think about taking the train? Might cost a little more, but trains report the lowest carbon emissions per person –and you get great views.

Pre-flight check-in:

• Pee before you get on the plane. Flight mileage decreases the heavier the pee tank becomes. Help keep the mileage down and yourself comfortable.
• Check the air pressure in your tires to make sure you’re getting the ideal gas mileage.
• Take unwanted or unneeded racks off the top of your car.
• Refill your water bottle after you go through security.
• Gone for a while? Switch out your snow tires and save on gas mileage.

On the beach ( or wherever):

• Check out local specialties
• You can still take short showers. Indulge in a massage to relax instead.
• Get a room with a kitchen at least for a few nights. It will save you money and you may eat better by checking out the local goodies.
• Bring your to-go ware to restaurants when you venture out.
• Staying in a hotel? Re-use your towels and make sure they don’t get washed every day.
• There are plenty of ways to explore a new place without driving or taking jeep tours. Look into eco-friendly explorations and rent a kayak, canoe, or bike to look around.

The post-guilt factor:

Unless your plane or automobile was powered with renewable energy, there’s not a whole lot you can do about the fact that to leave Telluride, you have to use fuel. But, you can make yourself feel better and support technological advances by purchasing offsets. Options are available to donate to EcoAction Partners’ Green Fund and the Colorado Carbon Fund.

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Have a great  – and as green as possible – vacation!

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