Summer means travel season – and that may or may not mean a big carbon footprint going along with your vacation. At Postconsumers, we believe in travel and vacations. But knowledge is power, so it’s also important to understand where you can unfortunately add (in some cases dramatically) to your carbon footprint when you take a summer vacation. Today, we’ll be covering all of the ways you may be leaving a big footprint when you travel. Check back later in the month for our best tips for reducing your summer vacation carbon footprint.

Add It Up One: The Getting There is the Hardest (and Most Polluting) Part

Staycations are amazing and can be a great time, but most of us desire to get out and see the world and things we’re not used to for a vacation. Not to mention that sometimes it’s hard to truly feel like you’ve disconnected and can “check out” unless you put some distance between your hometown and you. Unfortunately, unless you’re planning to walk to your vacation destination, you’ll by default be applying “travel miles” to your carbon footprint. Planes, trains, cars and boats all add to your carbon impact. In fact, when it comes to vacations, they’re often (but not always) the biggest culprit of carbon footprints left behind.

Pro Tip! You can’t do much about the carbon footprint you create getting to your destination – travel is travel. But you can make better choices at your destination. Walk, take bike tours or look to public transportation to reduce your travel carbon footprint.

Add It Up Two: Holy Hotel, Batman!

Not all vacations can involve a tent (and even if they did you may be surprised how impactful camping can be to the environment). But hotels can create massive carbon footprints. Just think it through. First, there’s all of the energy running because nobody thinks of temperature or energy conservation when they’re in a hotel (so let’s think of it). Secondly there’s all of the water being used not only for guest showers but also for laundering all of the guest linens. Even if you just took those two things alone the carbon footprint of participating in a hotel stay are massive, but there are lots of other little things. Constantly running televisions, fountains in lobbies, it all adds up!

Pro Tip! Most hotels these days give you an option to not have your linens changed and laundered daily. Take that opportunity! You wouldn’t use clean towels and sheets every day at home, so why do it on vacation?

Add It Up Three: Food Waste

We don’t know why it is, but people tend to waste more food while they’re on vacation. We’ve often speculated that it’s because the types of places where you eat and drink while you’re on vacation tend to serve things in very large portions. Add to that the fact that, typically, on vacation you’ll get more take-out food that obviously uses more take-out packaging and it’s a perfect storm for both food waste and a bigger carbon footprint due to food.

Pro Tip! If you’re driving, pack a cooler full of healthier and less packaged snacks before you leave. You’ll eat better, waste less and save money.

Add It Up Four: More Stuff! More Stuff!

We understand that it’s nice to bring a memento of your trip home with you. But there can be a massive impact of carbon footprint associated with many typical souvenirs. Think about how many of them are manufactured and purchased in ways similar to the environmentally destructive practices of big box stores. It’s true that you may not visit the souvenir shop at a location as often as you visit your local dollar store, but when you add up all of the people who buy anti-environmental souvenirs “just one time,” the impact is significant.

Pro Tip: We actually have lots of pro tips for great trip souvenirs and mementos that don’t hurt the planet. See them here.

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Photo Credit: Rainer Hungershausen via Flickr