Summer Travel Turns up the (Global) Heat

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Iceberg Lake, MontanaWith summer right around the corner, restless employees are eagerly scratching at the doors to get out of the office and slip into their fantasy vacations. One thing that we should all consider is the impact that our summer travel is going to have on the very places that we are dying to get out and enjoy.

Fortunately, some hotels and travel companies are getting the message and are making changes to help conserve and reduce impact. Several options exist to minimize your footprint on the road and in the skies this summer.

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  • Make the summer educational as well as exciting by choosing a volunteer or eco-vacation; Sierra Club, Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) offer enriching programs and truly unique experiences with emphasis on being good environmental stewards.
  • Stay close to home – some of the best places to visit may be right in your region of the country. Use this time to spend less time on the road or in the air and exploring your own area or community.
  • Purchase carbon offsets when you fly. Travel sites and airlines, such as Expedia and Continental let passengers purchase carbon offsets as they are booking their flights. Continental also has one of the newest fleets in the industry, making it a slightly better choice when booking travel. They have spent close to $20 billion in the past decade to reduce their emissions. Virgin Atlantic is another option if you are flying internationally – they are the first airline to fly using biofuels, which has drawn a lot of praise and criticism. From 1990 to 2000, greenhouse gas emission levels have doubled in the US and the UK.
  • Patronize hotels with eco-friendly practices and make sure that you let the hotel know that their environmental stewardship played a role in your decision to stay with them. Don’t forget to do your part by hanging up your towels if you don’t want them to be laundered. In the hotel industry, it is generally recognized that a towel on the floor will be washed and replaced, but hanging towels will be left. Linen reuse saves Marriott hotels between 11 and 17% of hot water and sewage usage.
  • If you are going on a road trip, take the car that gets the best gas mileage and has the lowest emissions. You can also rent hybrids or eco-friendlier cars just for the trip through Orbitz, which also offers eco-tourism packages or through a major rental car company, such as the Hertz “Green Collection” program.
  • Consider taking a trip on a train or cruising. Flying produces 19 times the greenhouse gas emissions of trains and 190 times that of a ship. Check out the Hot Deals section of Amtrak for some good economical options and a unique way to see the country this summer.
  • Pack your own meals and snacks. Not only will this save a little cash, but you can help reduce the 1.8 billion tons of trash that is created by fast food and quick service take out every year.

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