Plan Your Eco-friendly Vacation
The lights are on, but no one’s home. Your appliances are plugged in even when they’re switched off.
You think natural fibers are found in cereal.
And instead of a compost heap, you throw your trash in a plastic bag to be hauled off by a gas-guzzling dump-truck.
Admit it. Your carbon footprint would put a Sasquatch to shame.
Share a ride
Going green takes some planning, so why not start with transportation? It wouldn’t make sense to start off green getaways by flying in a jet that burns a gallon of fuel per second. So why not plan a road trip? One option is to buy a bus ticket and share a ride with a bunch of strangers. With all the stops, however, it may take days to reach your destination. Another alternative is to hitchhike; but this could result in the loss of a precious natural resource: you.
A better idea is to invite your most granola friend and get her to drive everyone in her brand new hybrid. (Captain Obvious says other fuel efficient cars will work as well).Try rolling down the windows instead of blasting the AC for a more frugal ride. Besides the obvious benefit of conserving energy, carpooling allows bonding time that will set the tone for the rest of your trip.
A yurt can’t hurt
The Green Movement has inspired several vacation rentals that are off the grid, meaning no energy lines (electricity, gas, sewer, and water) flow in and no lines flow out. This shouldn’t hamper your house plans, however, when self-sufficient rentals harness energy using alternate methods, like solar and wind power.
A popular type of green lodging is a yurt, a portable shelter borrowed from the Central Asian nomads. Today’s Western yurts are round, semi-permanent, self-sufficient shelters that are built for even the worst weather conditions. (Note: Choose a yurt in the backyard of a really nice house owned by really nice people. That way, if a hurricane hits, help is just a holler away). Most likely, you’ll be safe, as yurts are designed with durability and safety in mind.
Consider California, a destination popular with green vacationers. Check into a secluded mountain yurt in Santa Barbara. It sits on a large family ranch near a creek and waterfall, ideal for hiking on clear days. You’ll feel refreshed in the mountain air while sitting on the large deck that surrounds the eco-shelter. In fact, this yurt is so luxurious you’ll forget you’re off the grid.
Or how about New York? While the Big Apple may not be an eco-paradise, there’s hope upstate. Escape the smog and concrete and head for the Adirondack Mountains, where a back country yurt on Gore Mountain can easily accommodate eight people. Spend the days fishing in Minerva Lake and the nights stargazing underneath the northern sky.
Other green scenes worth digging into:
Away from the city, your SUV, your Blackberry and daily news feeds, it’s easy to get back to a more natural way of life. But getting back home isn’t a ticket to forget what you practiced on vacation. The true test will be whether you can maintain a greener lifestyle after returning to your urban apartment.
While going off the grid may be too extreme for some people, recycling and conserving water and fuel, can be easily incorporated into your routine. After a while, you won’t have to travel to places where the grass is greener. You’ll find it in your own backyard.