So you want to go on a summer vacation, but you want to minimize your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, many of the most popular travel destinations out there – theme parks and tourists hubs – are anything but eco-friendly. Today, we’re giving five of our favorite alternatives to typical vacations that have a high eco-price.

Alternative One: The Obvious Choice of Camping Of course the first option we’ll lay out there is to get as close to nature as you possibly can – by camping in it. Just remember that camping has an eco-scale as well.  Just because you’re in a tent (or a camper), it doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily being kind to the planet. We have some eco-friendly camping tips, but there are some general rules that you can follow. Make sure you leave only footprints behind. Littering isn’t just bad for the planet, it’s also rude. Think about how you’re cooking and how many single-use disposable items you brought with you. Camping is a great alternative to other options, but like many things it’s really you who controls how eco-friendly it is.

Alternative Two: The Other Obvious Choice of an Eco-Lodge or Resort The second obvious idea is to vacation at an eco-lodge or eco-resort. We’ve previously discussed the pros and cons of eco-lodges or resorts (as well as given you a list of some of our favorites). When it comes right down to it though, travel to an eco-lodge or resort is just simply more eco-friendly than most other options. Yes, you will still be leaving your imprint on the earth – but you will be doing slightly less of it and you will also be voting with your dollar that the green practices of vacation destinations matter.

Alternative Three: Visit a City It may seem like nothing about visiting a city is eco-friendly, but that’s not necessarily true. When you break down the math of what ultimately reduces carbon footprints, being able to use public transportation, stay in a smaller area of space and maximize the efficiency of numbers are all good things. Trips to cities afford you all of these things – and there’s so much to do. See the historic areas of the city, take a walking or bike tour, visit museums, visit green spaces, eat in restaurants that are amazing. A city is just like a theme park except without the theme and usually with better artwork! You can even increase your eco-friendly score because most larger cities will have at least one or two hotels that focus on green and earth-friendly practices.

Alternative Four: Explore Local Treasures Most of us often think of vacations as something that gets us far away from our home where we can regroup and recoup from daily living. But stop for a moment and think about all of the locations that aren’t that far from where you live that you haven’t explored yet. We’re not talking about a staycation (though we’re fans of those, too). We’re betting that thirty minutes on the internet would likely yield all types of amazing things that are within a two or three hour drive of your home that you haven’t even begun to explore yet. When it comes right down to it, sustainability often equates to localization. The more you minimize the actual travel miles on your vacation, the more you minimize your carbon footprint.

Alternative Five: Do a Week of Volunteer Work For many college students, skipping traditional spring break vacations to spend a week with Habitat for Humanity or another global good organization has become the new normal (and we love it). But that doesn’t have to apply just to college students. It may seem as though this wouldn’t be a very relaxing vacation, but from what we’ve heard it’s entirely the opposite. How much time do you usually get to spend in your life building things with your hands? Not only will you feel invigorated after getting out and doing good work, you’ll feel empowered about the good you did for the world.

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