The presents are bought and wrapped. Trees and halls are decked. Cookies and pies are baked. All that stands between you and holiday celebrations with your loved ones is what could easily be considered the worst part of the season: holiday travel. Unless you’re making the friends and family come to you this year, trekking somewhere by plane, train, or automobile—and all the associated traffic, delays, and waiting—is inevitable. You can, however, help make the traveling season a little easier on the planet. Here are some tips.
Consider your transportation options. If there’s any way to avoid flying, you should. Besides the lowered emissions compared to plane travel, taking a train is often more economical and relaxing than flying. Another upside: no pat-downs from a friendly Transportation Security Administration agent. If you must fly, look into buying carbon offset credits, which will run between $10 and $40, depending on the flight.
Planning a road trip? Before you leave, make sure your car is current on all its maintenance needs and that its tires are full of air—all of which will help ensure your vehicle maximizes its fuel efficiency on the open road. If you’re traveling alone, consider looking for a carpool buddy traveling to or near your same destination.
Sleep green. We know you’re psyched about bringing your new significant other home for the holidays. But you’re probably not looking forward to sharing that twin bed in your childhood bedroom. If you’re hoping to maintain your sanity, offer your room up to Great Aunt Myrtle in town from Fort Lauderdale and explore the green hotel options your destination has to offer. Look for locally owned lodging that features things like recycling, composting, and water conservation programs as well as eco-friendly buildings and amenities.
There are plenty of web resources to help you find a planet-friendly hotel, so let your fingers do the walking before you get to town.
If you’re looking for a less luxurious option, consider a hostel. The basic accommodations and shared-space setup encourage less waste and are easier on your wallet, too.
Planet-saving boredom busters. You can only listen to Myrtle’s story about her bus ride to Baton Rouge so many times before you go nuts. So make plans to explore some green extracurriculars. If you’re visiting a snowy place, grab a sled and head to the nearest hill for some good zero-emission fun. Bundle up and go caroling, or walk—not drive—through the neighborhood to take in the Christmas light displays. And don’t forget about those who might be having less-than-merry holidays. A day of volunteering at a local shelter or food bank is easy on the environment and good for your fellow man.