7 Smart Eco Vacation and Travel Planning Tips

With a few feet of snow out my front window, now seems to be the time of year everyone is planning a vacation to somewhere warm. I love a good vacation, and at Re-Nest we've written a number of articles on how to prepare, travel, and return from a green vacation. Here are few key areas you can reduce your impact while enjoying a break:

1. Prepare your Space Before you Leave: Allison came up with 6 great tips to help reduce the footprint of your living quarters while you are away. They include turning down your thermostat, turning off your water, using light timers, unplug electronics and appliances, turning down your hot water heater, and having someone shovel your driveway and pick up your mail and papers.

2. Packing Light and Smart: Adele compiled a list of 4 great ways to travel light this summer. Her tips include starting with the right bag, bringing multi-purpose items, planning to wear clothes multiple times, and seeing what your destination may provide so you can pack less. With the rising cost of luggage, this can also be a great money-saver. Rachel came up with a great list of specific items to bring with you as you book it to somewhere new. It includes reusable bags, water bottles, solar chargers, reusing travel size toiletry bottles, and your lovely bicycle.

3. Transportation: To, From, and During Your Stay: With new investments in rail lines across the US, Amtrak may be a relaxing option to the airport hustle and bustle to get to your destination. Sarah Rae came up with some great green vacation tips including carpooling, using public transit, and renting eco-friendly vehicles (if necessary) during your vacation. If you aren't able to bring your bicycle with you (about $50 to check on an airplane), then consider traveling to a city that hosts a bike-share program. If you are a carbon offsets fan, vacation is a perfect time to add up the miles and invest.

4. Eating Deliciously Local and Sustainable Food: Amber's dedication to eating sustainable food helped inspire her list of tips to keeping up those good eating habits no matter where you end up. She recommends asking locals for tips, researching before you leave (we recommend the Eat Well Guide), reviewing local publications once you arrive, and finding out if and where the Farmer's Markets are in town.

5. Screening Your Shelter: With all of the Green House Tours, we have thrown in a place or two where you can stay yourself! When looking to find an eco-friendly place to rest your head try walking through this list of 9 questions to determine the eco-friendliness of the hotel. Other options when traveling include WWOOFing, where you stay and work on organic farms while traveling, going on a service trip, and the great option of a 'Staycation'.

6. Distance: If you are opting out of a Staycation, then you may want to consider visiting one of SustainLane's top green cities. The front runners include Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Philly, Oakland, and Baltimore. You can page through their database to learn more about potential cities to visit, and some of them may be closer than you think! Another great resource is the Green Vacation Hub to find listings worldwide.

7. Memories: Shot glasses, keychains, and teddy bears can fill up a bag pretty fast. Re-thinking how we remember our vacation can free up space in your bag, your home, and your wallet. Pictures are the greatest souvenirs you can bring back because there are a million and one ways to creatively display your vacation photos. So you can reduce the "stuff" and increase the tangible memories for you and your family.

Any other suggestions out there?

And for the tech-loving individuals out there, don't worry there is an App for this.

(Image: Flickr member Avrene licensed for use under Creative Commons)