Summer means vacation and travel season. At Postconsumers, we think that vacations are an important part of life and in many cases can be worth the carbon footprint impact of taking them. After all, it’s vital to see, experience and understand the world around us. But some vacations are better (or worse) than others. We want to be clear – we’re not telling you that you shouldn’t go to some of the vacation destinations listed below. Where your spot on the Postconsumers scale is depends on your own comfort level.  However, knowledge is power. You may not even have realized how bad for the environment these vacation ideas are! Make your own decisions, but make them wisely. And to help you along, here’s our take on the five least eco-friendly vacation destination ideas around.

Theme Parks: That Is Just  A Lot of Consumption

If you’ve read any eco-travel articles on the Postconsumers website before, then you know that theme parks are one of our big no-no’s. As a general rule, any place that tourists will flock to isn’t going to be your most environmentally friendly option. Theme parks are a particular violator in many cases. Not only do they absorb all of the eco-impact of amusement parks, but they have even more unique construction and ongoing renovations to build newer and “better” items. Not to mention the massive emissions associated with all of the lights, shows and entertainment of your average theme park. In addition, theme parks are full of “food stops” that serve food in takeout containers that are rarely then recycled. It would actually take us an entire article to list out all of the ways in which an average theme park is harmful to the planet. Be careful with heading to one, and if you do try to negate some of the huge theme park carbon footprint by making wise decisions once you’re there.

All Inclusives: Over Indulgence Creates Waste

What’s that phrase about “if it sounds too good to be true?” All-inclusive vacations offer you the ability to get a lot of everything for what is usually a reasonably small amount of money. What’s the downside? Well, there are actually many, but if you care about being green the lack of eco-friendly practices in most all-inclusive scenarios is one of them. There’s a way that all-inclusive resorts keep their prices so low, and we all know that in most cases the green alternative is not the cheapest one. Also, at most all inclusives things like food and beverages are made in bulk. We’ve covered before how bulk production and purchasing can lead to a great deal of waste. As a general rule, if the cost is low and the quantity is high, there’s something unfriendly to the world going on there.

Cruises. Emissions and Waste Parties on the Water

In essence, cruises take everything that’s bad about a theme park and everything that’s bad about an all-inclusive and put it on a boat. So you get all of the same waste, over-consumption and emissions but with the added “benefit” of the extra emissions of running a boat with a thousand people on it through our precious oceans. People love cruises, and we confess that we also love the idea of sitting on a boat balcony for extended periods of time staring out into nothing but ocean. We also appreciate that cruises can help you see areas of the world that you wouldn’t see any other way. But there is a reality – and that reality is that there’s nothing eco-friendly about your average cruise.

Driving the Epic Cross Country Road Trip

We love the freedom of the open road, too. And remember that because this type of vacation is typically a solo vacation you have a lot of freedom to make things more (or less) eco-friendly. But there’s also a reality behind the solo road trip. Any time that you are driving a car long distances with only one person in it, you’re creating a huge emission carbon footprint. Would you consider taking trains or buses, which minimize the impact per person by using the law of diminishing returns? Consider it. We love a good road trip, just go into it knowing those emissions last forever!

Any Huge Event Driven Vacation – Mardis Gras, Conventions, Etc.

Another general rule you can assume to hold true is this: where there are big events designed to draw tourists to an area, there is a lack of eco-preparation.  There’s also a huge number of people who will be at these events, generating a gigantic amount of waste and typically without a great deal of recycling or other green options. Events are fun to attend – just be aware of the mark they leave behind.

In fairness, almost all vacation destinations are working to become more eco-friendly, as is much of the world. But you’ll still be behind the curve if you’re making your vacation destination any of the five above options.

Did we miss a vacation destination that’s just awful for the planet? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.

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Photo Credit: Rob via Flickr