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How to Travel Carbon Light - 3 Steps to Lowering Your Travel Carbon Emissions

Jul 23, 2008
We should all be concerned with Global Warming and each do what we can to reduce the amount of CO2 released into our atmosphere. There are three steps you can use to lower your impact while traveling; using carbon offsets for travel to your destination, choosing carbon light accommodations, and paying attention to how you move about your destination.

Air Travel Carbon Offsets

It is difficult to get around the emissions that the airplane produces while shuttling you to your destination. Currently the best option is for you to purchase a carbon offset. There are numerous non profit organizations that use the money from your carbon offset donation to aid in the development of sustainable energy sources such as wind power or solar electric generation. Other carbon offset programs plant trees to soak up the carbon produced during your flight. Carbon offsets are not that expensive either. A carbon offset calculated on Carbonfund.org for a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Paris would be only $11. Of course carbon offset can also be used for any travel mode that produces carbon emission be it by car, train, or ship.


A potentially less polluting lodging option to consider is a vacation apartment or home. When you stay in a vacation rental you are in control of the energy use - just as you are in your own home. Hotels use a tremendous amount of energy for heat, air conditioning, daily linen changes, and all the other services they offer. Your vacation rental will not be consuming huge amounts of electricity 24/7 365 days a year as the hotel does. You can conscientiously limit the amount energy you use by turning off the heating or Air conditioning while you are out visiting the sights. You can use the linens and towels just as you do at home.

Of course we all love to eat out and enjoy the cuisine of the region we are visiting but restaurants also use and waste large amounts of energy contributing to CO2 emissions due to climate control and keeping the kitchen and dining area ON constantly. With a vacation rental you do not have to eat all of your meals in restaurants, with your own kitchen available you can fix some of your meals further lowering your energy use and carbon load. Buying local produce at farmers markets will even further reduce your carbon footprint. Locally grown produce produces much less greenhouse gases due to shorter transportation distances.

Renting a vacation rental in a foreign land is not difficult as you might think. One can find excellent online reservation sites to book directly with the owners such as slowtrav.com or greatrentals.com. If you would like a little more help there are numerous agencies that know the properties well and can assist you in finding the best rental for your needs.

Destination Transportation

While visiting your destination of course the cleanest way to get around will be to walk, bike, take the bus, street tram, or use the metro trains in the cities. In larger European cities such as Paris or Berlin you can take advantage of the street bike rental programs. Bikes are parked throughout the city ready to ride with the swipe of a credit card. Bike to your destination and simply lock the bike up and you are on your way. Not only will you be doing the planet a favor but you gain the potential for discovering a unique sight or connecting with the locals when you are not trapped inside a car or taxi. If your accommodations are not located near public transportation and you must rent a car you can minimize the carbon emissions by requesting a Diesel vehicle. In certain destinations you can even rent Hybrid vehicles which of course reduce the carbon footprint even further.

We can all make a difference to help clean our air and reduce global warming emissions by the choices we make when we spend our money. We hope you find these ideas helpful for planning your next trip so that you can travel carbon light.

Self service bike rentals:

Paris http://www.velib.fr
Berlin http://www.callabike-interaktiv.de/kundenbuchung/

Carbon Offset programs:

Green Tagshttp://www.greentagsusa.org
GoZero http://www.conservationfund.org/gozero
Climate Carehttp://www.climatecare.org/
Treeflights http://www.treeflights.com/
Carbon Footprinthttp://www.carbonfootprint.com/

Vacation Rentals:

Slow Travelhttp://www.slowtrav.com
Great Rentalshttp://www.greatrentals.com
About the Author
John Spillman is the co-owner of Drawbridge To Europe, Inc. and a specialist for vacation rentals in Paris.
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