I have to admit I'm pretty boring when it comes to travel. I don't like the idea of busy vacations and endless travel. While there are places I'd like to see, the travel part just doesn't appeal to me. For me, a vacation in Orlando would be a nightmare, although we did do it once. To spend long days and nights at amusement parks is not my idea of a vacation. And, of course, flying has become such a hassle, I want no part of it. Between figuring out what you can pack, how much you can pack and paying extra if you pack too much only to arrive at your destination without your luggage anyway...not my idea of fun. Certainly not my idea of relaxation.
Then there's the driving option. I used to enjoy that, but let's face it: there seems to be a whole lot more idiots on the road these days. It's hard to enjoy a drive across the state, much less across the country! And that's not to mention the cost at the gas pump and the ongoing oil crisis we're facing!
If I had my way, I'd travel by train as much as possible. I love riding the rails. Traveling by train is a greener option as well because trains generate less pollution than cars and, according to Joseph R. Provey and Owen Lockwood in The Little Green Book, they "produce about two to three times less CO2 per person per mile than planes generate." They also point out that "according to some estimates, emitting CO2 into the upper stmosphere -- which planes do -- does more than twice the damage of the same amount of CO2 emitted at ground level." I'm sold. Put me on a train.
Regardless of how you get there, here are some other eco-friendly tips when it comes to vacations:
Before you leave home, invest in some timers for your lights, particularly your outdoor lights. That way you don't have to leave your porch light on all the time, which in addition to being a waste of money and energy, also is an invitation for burglars, since it's an advertisement of your being gone.
If you have a family member or friend traveling over to your house to pick up your mail everyday, consider putting a hold on it with the post office. This will save gas for the person taking care of it for you. Oh, and make sure you cancel your newspaper subscription for the days you're gone. Paper's a major waste issue in the landfills, so save a bit and keep the burglars guessing.
Pull the shades down or close the drapes before you go, which will keep your home cooler (or warmer in the winter, thus cutting back on the energy used to heat your empty house). If it's hot when you return and you turn on the AC, it won't take as long to cool down the house. If you choose to leave the AC on while you're gone, at least turn the thermostat up to 85 degrees (or down to 50 degrees in the winter). At our house, we rarely use the AC, so we have it turned off when we leave, no matter how hot it may be. Up until this year, we always had birds in the house, so we had to leave the heat turned up a bit for them. Now that the only pets we have are furry kitties, we're confident they'll be warm enough in the winter...and as long as the summer's not too hot, they'll be okay then, too.
One more thing you want to do before you head out the door for a few days or weeks...unplug, unplug, unplug!! Other than your refrigerator, of course, there's no reason to keep your appliances plugged in. By unplugging your TVs, office machinery, washer/dryer, etc., you'll be saving money and energy.
So, maybe that's enough for now. Ways to be green at home when you're away. Whatever you do this summer, and whatever mode of transportation you choose, enjoy your vacations. Rest, relax, revive and remember it's up to you to preserve your little corner of the earth. Someday, future generations will appreciate you for it.
Keeping it green,