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You’ve finally secured your time off from work and picked a destination. Now all you need to do is make your last preparations. You don’t want to just pick the most “budget” option out there. No, this time you want to make sure you go the route of sustainable green travel. Your only problem is that you’re not sure where to begin.

Don’t worry, choosing to “go green” and be eco-friendly as you travel is actually a lot easier than you might think. You don’t have to sacrifice comforts or miss your favorite destinations. What it really only comes down to making different, conscious choices. The list below will help get you started as you put the final touches on your next vacation.

1. Vehicle Efficiency Is the New Black

Just by cutting out one long-distance flight and traveling by car, you’re already reducing the impact of your carbon footprint. Take a step farther by making sure you pay attention to fuel efficiency and choose a hybrid for your overland travel. Research what the best green cars are out there right now, and plan yourself a great route to take full advantage of your road trip.

Get a little quirky by picking random places to stop along the way. You never know what kind of gems you might see or what unforgettable experiences you might have.

2. Support Locally Sourced (Your Stomach Will Thank You)

When we talk sustainability, eating and drinking locally is the way to go. You’ll offset the transportation costs of products brought in from a distance, have a guarantee of fresher and more ethical produce and you’ll boost the local economy as well. It’s a way of creating a symbiotic relationship between the residential community, businesses, and the tourism industry. Still not convinced? Here’s another ten reasons why you should.

3. Do Your Homework: Look for Green-Loving Lodging

What does a “green hotel” actually mean? It’s important to understand what it is you are looking for in an eco-friendly overnight stay. Many times people get confused with “greenwashing” from establishments that claim they are eco-friendly, but really aren’t. Know good examples: Eco Pampa was the very first environmentally responsible hostel in Buenos Aires.

One of the great things about looking for eco-friendly lodging is that you have amazing options available to you that can involve community projects, home stays and complete cultural immersion. It’s a serious experience for the avid traveler.

4. Use Fair Trade and Reef-Friendly Products

Many times we don’t think about the chemical additives that are contained in products like soap, detergent, facewash, or sunscreen. These types of materials can be severely damaging to coral reefs — which is exactly the opposite kind of effect you want to have on your green holiday. You’ll want to make sure to choose biodegradable, reef-friendly products instead.

The same can be said for choosing products that have the fair trade status. More than half of all fair trade products are grown organically, and by buying them you’ll also support living and fair wages for poorer economies — which are more sustainable over the long-term. Try to stay away from plastic disposable water bottles to eliminate waste, and carry your own trash bag to avoid leaving behind unnecessary waste.

5. Take a Bike or Public Transport

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, consider parking that car and getting on a bike or utilizing public transport. You’ll avoid regular traffic while simultaneously minimizing your carbon footprint. Plus, you’ll end up learning how to navigate the city easier — most likely finding hidden jewels down tiny streets.

If you really want to get serious about cutting down on carbon emissions and going green, you might even want to consider taking a cross-country road cycling trip. You’ll get yourself out in nature, meet locals and have the freedom of stopping whenever you choose. Talk about an adventure!

These are just some of the simple changes you can do to make your next holiday a little less stressful on our planet. You’ll impact the lives of local communities and economies, as well as have a great experience of your own. Sustainable travel isn’t a difficult decision. It boils down to taking just a little extra effort to see how you can be a more responsible tourist.

Megan Nichols

Megan Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols enjoys writing about environmental issues and other science fields on her blog, Schooled By Science. When she isn’t writing she loves going on hikes and stargazing.