Green Travel * How to Travel Green * Green Aircraft * Green Airlines * Reduce Carbon Footprint * Eco Friendly Lodging

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Travel Green - From Airlines and Hotels to Cruise Ships

green travel

One of the biggest benefits of going on vacation is what you leave behind, like work, stress and all the responsibilities associated with the "daily grind" at home. But like all your other values, your eco-conscious ways go with you. Even if you're traveling on business, it's an opportunity to incorporate your green-geared lifestyle into your professional pursuits. So travel like you mean it. Travel green! From where you stay, to how you get there, go with a green agenda in mind.

If you're open to destination and activity ideas, let help you plan the ultimate green getaway. Otherwise, you can plan eco-friendly trips yourself with the following green travel tips.

Reserve Green Lodging

There are a number of ways the hospitality industry can go green these days. Though you may be hard-pressed to find a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast that embraces all of the following practices, consider it a wish list of sorts from which to judge your lodging options:

  • Eco-friendly lighting, including CFL's, LED's, skylights and solar
  • Towel and linen reuse program, washing only by request
  • Organic cotton towels and bedding
  • Low-flow toilets, sinks and showers
  • Permanent liquid soap dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, lotion and hand soap instead of throwaway bottles and bars
  • Locally-sourced, organic food served in hotel restaurant
  • Landscaping that minimizes irrigation needs, such as xeriscaping
  • Salt water swimming pool instead of chlorine
  • Recycling program for plastic, metal and glass hotel waste
  • Composting program for food and landscaping waste
  • Alternative energy sources, like solar and wind
  • Furnishings and decor made from sustainable materials
  • Motion-sensor lights and electronics
  • LEED certification

If you have some particular lodging accommodations in mind, you can call ahead and ask about their eco-friendly practices. However, you have a much better chance of greening your travel by being open to the most eco-friendly hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts around. You can find lists of these on a number of online websites, where lodging is rated according to the preceding list of criteria, among others. The following sites are a good place to start:


Bottom line though, you can green your lodging no matter where you stay. Just like you do at home, conserve on water and electricity. Instead of using throwaway hotel soaps, bring your own bar and take it back home with you. As for towels and linens, request no maid service to ensure nothing gets laundered unnecessarily. Return to Top

Rent an Eco-Friendly Car

Whether you're driving to your destination or need a vehicle once you get there, go with an eco-friendly car. Both Enterprise and Hertz have hybrid options, though you can find fuel-efficient economy cars through just about any rental car service. Most importantly, stay away from SUV's which generate four times the emissions, and use four times as much gas, as hybrids. Return to Top

Use Public Transportation

Instead of renting a car in your destination city, use public transportation. It's the greenest way of getting around, and the best way of getting to know the town. Return to Top

Fly the "Eco-Friendly" Skies

green airlines

Of all the airlines, Virgin America seems to be the eco-friendliest. First of all, it's a newer airline with newer planes that are inherently more fuel-efficient. Virgin was the first airline to test biofuels and, in fact, donates a portion of its profits toward alternative fuel research. Each flight includes single-engine taxiing and cruise speed regulations. And Virgin is a member of the EPA Climate Leaders program.

Other airlines with green-geared initiatives are as follows:

  • American Airlines - adding to its fleet nearly 80 planes that burn 28 percent less fuel per mile, member of EPA Climate Leaders program
  • Continental Airlines - replaced most of its aircraft with more fuel-efficient planes, added fuel-saving "winglets," reduced emissions more than 75 percent thanks to changes to ground equipment, testing biofuels
  • EasyJet - installed new energy-efficient engines
  • Southwest Airlines - saves fuel by slowing down by 1 to 3 minutes per flight, created employee ride-share programs on the ground, added fuel-saving "winglets"
  • Lufthansa, JetBlue, Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand - all are testing biofuels

And always fly coach as first-class takes up twice the space and, in turn, generates twice the carbon footprint. Return to Top

Take the Train

For shorter trips, choose trains over planes. Trains generate 30 per less emissions than planes per passenger mile.

Buy a Bus Ticket

Though a bus may get just 5 miles to the gallon, when it's carrying 50 people, that's 250 mpg per passenger. In fact, a couple traveling by bus instead of plane can cut their travel emissions by as much as 55 to 75 percent! Taking the bus is even more fuel-efficient than a hybrid car. Return to Top

Cruise With Care

The typical cruise ship carrying 3,000 passengers generates 1 million gallons of hazardous toxic waste, and 50 tons of garbage and solid waste. As a result, cruising the high seas is the least eco-friendly form of travel. However, a number of cruise lines are making an effort to clean up their act, with green-geared features that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Holland America - low-flow shower heads and faucets, black water treatment system, environmental officers onboard each cruise, eco-educated staff, non-toxic green cleaning supplies, shorter routes that take into account tide schedules so as to maximize fuel, plug-in power at port
  • Celebrity Cruises (Solstice) - 216 solar panels, 7,000 LED lights, water filtration system, heat-transfer windows
  • Disney Cruise Lines - laundry facilities that utilize water generated by the air conditioning system, environmental officers onboard each cruise, non-toxic coating on hull to reduce drag
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines - new hull shape and propulsion system to maximize performance, new ice-makers that use 65 percent less water, updated generators
  • Lindblad Expeditions - sources local food, catches and serves sustainably harvested fish only, forum aboard each ship in which travelers can talk about environmental issues impacting the seas

So keep cruising to a minimum, only fly when the train or bus just won't do and if you're driving, make it fuel-efficient. And be sure to supplement all of this motorization with any tourist's most entertaining, educational form of travel - your own two feet. Return to Top