How-To Guide For A Greener Vacation

by on August 7, 2013 in Adventure Travel, Travel

How-To Guide For A Greener Vacation
Toulumne Meadows Lodge

Each year more than 100 million Americans choose to take a vacation with the average American spending thousands of dollars to visit faraway places over a span of a few days to a week. The environmental impact of our vacation culture has recently come to light with the advent of eco-tourism. Under this umbrella of travel, agents promise far-flung destinations focused on the environment and sustainable living. However, most Americans can still go on a leisurely, and also green, vacation by choosing destinations closer to home. The national parks system offers a more affordable and environmentally friendly option with 400 parks located in the United States. The closer it is, the less you have to travel which means a smaller carbon footprint. Here are additional ways to be an eco-tourist when visiting our national parks.

Michael Kirkland_Cuyahoga Valley NP

Choose a park that’s close to home.

The National Park Foundation allows site visitors to search for national parks by state. Live in California? There are 27 national parks located in the golden state spanning various landscapes and ecosystems, from desert to temperate rainforests. To reduce your carbon usage even further, check with your rental car agency or airline and inquire about carbon offset credits which allows you to make a donation to an environmental organization in the amount of your travel’s impact on the environment.

• Another way to travel greener is to respect local cultures, wildlife, and overall habitat. Respect park regulations regarding use of facilities and wildlife. As a general rule, try and leave the area better than when you got there. It’s also good to purchase items made or grown locally.

• Attempt to take a single, longer vacation rather than several short trips. It may require more planning, but it reduces carbon output related to transportation and allows you to purchase your items needed for your trip in bulk, reducing waste.

• Use water responsibly and respect the waterways when visiting a national park. Be careful not to release liquid contaminants and be wary of wasteful use of water. You may want to call ahead for special rules about personal hygiene products as chemicals in body wash, shampoo, and soap may damage especially sensitive environments.

An environmentally friendly lifestyle does not mean you must sacrifice pleasure and enjoyment. Planning a vacation to a national park can be an exciting chance to visit pristine wilderness and untouched beachfront in the United States while also giving you the opportunity to support local businesses and protect America’s natural resources. Ultimately, by visiting a national park, you are helping to ensure that some of the most beautiful areas in the world will remain for future generations.

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