It's beginning to look a lot like summer, and with the kids out of school and the warm, sunny weather, it's vacation time for many of us. But with fuel prices -- for cars, airplanes and all petro-based transport -- heading skyward (and not coming back down), taking a low-carbon vacation this summer will be a lot better for your wallet, and for the planet, too. What're the best ways to do it?
Stay close to home. There are probably more attractions than you realize within a couple of hours' drive of your home, and choosing these over more far-flung vacation spots will help minimize your greenhouse gas emissions along the way. And, if you're in or near a major metropolitan area or tourist town, chances are there are nearby attractions you haven't yet seen, or haven't visited in years. Check it out.
Wherever you go, travel low-carbon. If you choose a more distant vacation spot, pick the most environmentally friendly means of getting there. Planes emit the most carbon dioxide per traveler by far, followed by cars, then trains and then, finally, coach buses. That means if you can find a comfortable way of reaching your destination by bus or train instead of car or plane, do it.
Wherever you go, stay green. It's not always easy to find accommodations that match up with the green ideals you live by at home. Happily, there are an increasing number of resources available to help you stay green wherever you travel. Check our tips to find green hotels.
Return home with the things that matter. Instead of buying junky souvenirs and kitschy t-shirts that were likely manufactured thousands of miles from your vacation destination, seek out sustainable souvenirs that directly benefit the communities you visit: locally produced goods, crafts or jewelry made by local artisans, goods that support local green organizations or environmental groups and, of course, lots of photos (digital are best: no developing costs, no wasted film). See our tip on snapping photos to ward off sentimental clutter for more details on massaging your inner shutterbug.
Difficulty level: Moderate