Traveling “Green” This Holiday Season

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, you might be making travel plans to celebrate with far-away relatives or maybe even ring in the New Year at a sunny locale. But hitting the road for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to throw your environmental concerns out the window entirely – follow these tips to travel green.

Ryerson University tourism and hospitality professors Rachel Dodds and Sonya Graci offer the following suggestions on sustainable travel:

· Before you make your final plans, ask your travel agent about the company’s environmental and responsible tourism policies. Be sure to support those who support responsible tourism.

· Ask your accommodation provider about their sustainability practices – do they support the local community? Do they have fair labor standards? Do they have an environmental policy?

· Flying is the most carbon-intensive way to travel. In fact, air travel accounts for 2 to 5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases. If possible, try to avoid flying or consider staying closer to home.

· If you have to fly, consider offsetting the carbon emissions. A number of companies, such as Westjet or Expedia, can help customers do just that.

· While on vacation, support the local economy by buying locally made souvenirs and eating at locally owned restaurants. Enjoy the local culture!

· Take public transit when vacationing. It’s a great way to see the town and strike up conversation with the locals. Plus, it will save you money, something everyone needs a little more of during the holiday season.

· Reduce energy consumption. Unplug your cell phone charger and turn off the lights.

· Conserve water by taking shorter showers. The average hotel guest uses over 300 liters of water per night. In luxury hotels, it’s 6 times as much.

If you intend to take an eco-friendly vacation this holiday season, consider the following resources to help make your trip a green one: Travelgreen.org, Responsibletravel.com, Ecoclub.com and Ecotourdirectory.com. To search for eco-friendly hotels and accommodations, try Greenhotels.com and Environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com.

For more tips on how to find eco-vacation destinations, or how to be a green tourist, visit: http://www.sustainabletourism.net.

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