Traveling with kids can be a joy (and this is where the parents chime in to point out that it can also be a nightmare). It’s also an important part of bringing up kids who are aware of the world around them and have been exposed to and stimulated by different locations, opportunities and even cultures. But often times the vacations that your kids want to take the most are some of the least eco-friendly vacation options available (think cartoon theme park). And as any parent knows, once your child gets an idea that he or she wants to go somewhere, it can be a battle to talk them out of it. What’s our advice? Don’t give your child a chance to want to go to an eco-disaster location by instead keeping them constantly excited about other, more planet-friendly options. What might those options be? Here are some of our top picks.
Are You a Camping Family? Maybe You Should Try It!
As much as many on the Postconsumers team love camping, we’re going to begin by admitting that it’s just not for everybody. For some people, there truly can be a thing such as being “too close” to nature. And after all, vacation is supposed to be about relaxing and enjoying yourself. But camping is obviously one of the most eco-friendly vacations that you can take, and it also educates your child about nature and gives him or her an appreciation for natural environments. If it’s the adults who hate camping and the children who seem enthusiastic about it, we’d recommend a cabin or a nature lodge as a nice middle ground. Sure, you’re giving up your luxury bathroom, but don’t marshmallows over a fire sound better than brunch with a fake princess?
Pro Tip: Not all camping trips are good for the planet. We have tips on keeping camping eco-friendly.
Beaches are a Surprisingly Eco-Friendly Trip
It might seem counterintuitive since so much consumerism has been built up around beach tourist communities, but on the scale of least to most eco-friendly vacation destinations the beach actually ranks quite high. For most of the day, you’ll be lounging, swimming or hanging out in a purely natural environment. What you choose to indulge in from the consumerism sphere once you leave the beach is a choice that’s entirely within your own control. Think less “Jersey Shore” and more beautiful waters and an understanding of the ocean. It’s also a perfect opportunity to teach children about why ocean conservation is so important.
Pro Tip: Beach and pool season bring an entire array of consumer traps you’ll want to avoid.
Show Your Kid The Best That Cities Have to Offer
Almost every major city in the United States (or for that matter the world) has a huge list of destinations that children will enjoy: museums, science centers, parks, theaters, aviaries, aquariums and even (humane) zoos. It may at first seem counterintuitive that we’re suggesting visiting a city as an eco-friendly alternative, but the truth is that cities offer a range of ways in which they’re more eco-friendly than your average cruise or theme park. Because the geography is condensed, you’re minimizing actual fuel miles (and you can minimize them even more by using the robust public transportation that many cities have). Cities also have economies of scale, so the actual boot print of resource transportation such as food for restaurants is reduced.
Go Big and Travel to an Eco-Destination
Eco-travel, with both its pros and its cons, has actually become a vibrant industry in the last decade. Yes, we will certainly concede that any time something becomes a vibrant industry you’ll need to look out for marketing traps. However, overall it’s fantastic that there are now a number of destinations that you can travel to where green practices and philosophies govern everyday operations. We will concede immediately that often these destinations are going to be more expensive and involve longer travel than more common kid-friendly destinations. But the fun your child will have as well as the cultural and environmental exposure that he or she will get will make it worth it.
Pro Tip: Stumped on an idea of where to go? We’ve compiled our favorite eco-travel fantasy destinations.
State and National Parks: Help Government Preservation and Keep It All Eco
From smaller state parks to the large swaths of land in the federal national park system, a stay at a state park lodge is a great eco-alternative for kids. In addition to being surrounded by nature, most state parks have daily educational activities for both children and adults. You’ll also be able to encourage physical fitness on trails and climbs. And, perhaps most importantly, you’re both supporting and raising a child who will internalize national preservation programs and the legislation and budget decisions that keep them going. No matter where you live in the nation, there’s likely a state park within easy driving distance. Educational plus environmental? State and national parks are certainly a great vacation destination when kids are involved.
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Photo Credit: zman z28 via Flickr