Summer is the time for travel. Whether you’re in the mood for a sandy beach, a peaceful lakeside retreat, or a desert oasis, you can make any summer vacation more eco-friendly and green.

Eco-friendly travel begins in the planning. If you are willing to do your homework first, you will save time, money, and reduce your environmental impact later.

Green Accommodations – Choose your destination wisely and remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints wherever you decide to go.

  • Look for hotels or bed & breakfasts that make a commitment to eco-friendly practices. Environmentally friendly certification and memberships in green industry associations – such as Green Seal or Green Leaf – are more significant due to the requirements that must be met.
  • Consider how you will be getting to your destination. Traveling close to home reduces the environmental impact, as does carpooling to fill the car. When possible, take the train or bus. If you must fly, fly non-stop and book e-tickets to reduce paper waste.
  • Know what transportation options will be available once you reach your destination. It is best if you can choose accommodations that are close to public transportation, within walking or biking distance of places you will visit during your visit, or both.

Pack Lightly And Green – Packing lightly, yet wisely, ensures that you will have everything that you need without the excess waste and weight. The heavier your luggage, the more energy your mode of transportation will burn. Pack items that are reusable to reduce disposable waste.

  • Clothing can be worn at least twice. Pack clothing accordingly.
  • Plan ahead for reusable beverage and food containers. Pack stainless steel water bottles for every member of your party and a thermos for every coffee and tea drinker. Snacks for the trip should go into reusable containers that can be used throughout the vacation.
  • If your vacation plans include shopping, cloth totes will come in handy. These can also be used to take toys to the beach or towels to the pool.
  • Toiletries will ideally be packed into reusable containers. If you don’t have them, buy the travel size to reuse on the next trip.
  • Remember the rechargeable batteries and chargers for cameras and phones.

Home Preparations – Preparing your home before you leave will help to conserve energy, but will also save you money.

  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances. Even when turned off anything that recharges, electronics in particular, will still use energy.
  • Turn off all the lights and put outside lights on timers so that it appears someone is home.
  • Adjust the thermostat. Turn it down to 50 degrees in winter or up to 85 degrees in the summer.
  • Turn your water heater down to the lowest setting.
  • Put your mail and newspaper on a vacation hold.

Eco-Friendly Driving Tips – Following a few simple tips will reduce your fuel consumption, save you money, and reduce your carbon footprint while you’re on the road.

  • Improve your gas mileage by 3-4% by keeping the tires inflated.
  • Slow down. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, reducing your speed from 65 miles per hour to 55, saves you 10-15% in fuel consumption.
  • Since you have already packed lightly, you will be saving up to 2% in fuel consumption. Make sure to unload everything once you reach your destination if you plan to do more driving, so you aren’t carrying around any extra bulk.
  • Avoid excess idling. Turn off the engine if you will be stopped for a long period of time.

Eco-Friendly On Vacation – It is easier to be eco-conscious in your own home, but in unfamiliar surroundings it might be more difficult to maintain all your green habits. Use the resources available to keep green living a priority, even while living the good life.

  • Ask about the green practices in use and how you can participate when you check in. For some hotels this may be as simple as passing on the turn down service and reusing towels and linens. Others may have more substantial programs that will be available.
  • Conserve resources as you would at home. Turn lights and water off when not in use. Avoid creating unnecessary waste and
  • Green your transportation. Use the hotel’s transportation services with other guests. Explore the local public transportation. Walk, bike, and other human-powered modes are great for your health, as well as the health of the environment.
  • Green your food. Choose local and organic food whenever possible.

Above all, get out there and enjoy this beautiful land we have available to us to explore. The more connected we are to our natural world, the more apt we are to want to protect it by making some of these small changes in our summer travel plans.

Brenna Burke is a mama of three trying to live a green life, pursue greater health and well-being for her family and the planet, and teach her children well – all  while always seeking the best tips, insight, and fun for those wanting to go a little greener. Brenna blogs at www.almostallthetruth.com.