Holiday season doesn’t just mean gift-giving and navigating your way through the consumer and environmental concerns of that tradition. For many, it also means that it’s time to travel to see friends, families and home. We know that the debate on whether eco-travel is really eco-friendly can get heated, but we also know that the reality for many is quite simply that the holiday mandates travel. After all, the world is not as localized as it once was, but holidays are still considered to be a time when it’s meaningful and important to be near your family. With that said, if you’re planning to travel this holiday season, here are the “must-do’s” if you want to try to be kind to the environment.

Avoid Single Passenger Travel.

This is a nice way of saying “Don’t get in your car and drive by yourself for a very far distance to visit friends and family.” Is the emission footprint of a bus, plane or train massive? Yes, of course it is. But when you per capita it out (especially with the notoriously cramped interior of airlines these days), you’re almost always going to still be creating fewer emissions than if you had driven your car by yourself. Of course, looking for ride shares and carpooling opportunities is also a great solution – but be careful out there!

Avoid Travel-Size Products.

We know that everybody wants to avoid having to spend another $25 to check a bag on an airplane, but think for a moment about the long-term cost of millions and millions of tiny plastic bottles of airline travel approved sizes of toiletries. Just don’t do it! We recommend buying a small set of reusable travel bottles and then filling them each time you travel from your larger containers. We understand the necessity of smaller, travel-sized containers. But we can all be smarter about how we manage these.

Staying in a Hotel? Make a Green Choice.

Perhaps you’re traveling home and staying with friends and family. After all, who doesn’t love to couch surf? Well, the reality is that lots of people don’t like to couch surf and would enjoy their trip far more if they had their own personal space to get back to. That’s why hotels are often booked around holiday time! We’ll be honest that we are often “those people” who go home to visit our family but then stay in a hotel. After all, there can be such a thing as “too much family time.” But if you are booking a hotel, do your research first. There are just as many affordable hotel options these days that prioritize green and eco-friendly practices as there are ones that don’t. And with a little bit of internet research you can usually make a better decision and choose one that’s at least making an effort to care for the planet.

You can also make choices once you’re actually in the hotel that help to minimize the eco-impact. Take advantage of programs that allow you to bypass having your linens laundered every single day. Don’t open the small hotel size products. Don’t be more liberal about heating or air conditioning than you would be if you were at home. Use it as your personal space, but not an excuse to suddenly participate in bad habits.

If Your Holiday Travel is Vacation Travel…

Not everybody’s holiday travel is to the old homestead. For many, because there’s built in time off during the holidays (and in some cases because they’d like to escape cold and brutal weather), holiday travel is about getting your vacation on. But that can be more eco-friendly, too.

Avoid These Vacations: We’ve compiled a list of the least eco-friendly vacation options. Some of them may seem “winter tempting,” but  you want to avoid them if at all possible. By which we mean avoid them if you want to be responsible about eco-friendly holiday travel at all!

Consider These Vacations: There are literally hundreds of eco-tourism destinations out there. Yes, you’ll absorb carbon footprints getting there, but you’ll do less damage and experience something more unique once you arrive. We can’t summarize all of them for you, but we do have a list of our favorite eco-travel destination ideas.

Practice Responsible Leisure Travel: Some of the generic holiday travel tips we’ve pointed out in this article still apply to leisure travel, but there are plenty of other small leisure travel choices you can make in order to be more eco-friendly. Here’s our list of the best ten tips.

There’s a Certain Carbon Footprint to the Holidays

Unless you are simply not acknowledging or participating in the holidays, there’s almost always a slight uptick in your carbon footprint. Between more food, gift-giving, travel, entertaining and the good habit “slippage” that can happen during busier or more stressful times, you should allow yourself some room to not be as diligent as you are the rest of the year. That said, there are always easy and simple ways to control the size of your consumption and waste. These travel tips should get you started!

Did we miss a tip to make holiday travel more eco-friendly? Tell us about it using the social media channels below.

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