Eco-friendly Travel Tips
Most of us practice cutbacks like reusing our hotel towels, but what else can we do to be more eco-friendly travelers? Sustainable traveling also means conserving natural resources, supporting local cultures and making a positive impact on our destinations. Here are a few sustainable travel tips for more eco-thoughtful Tennessee trips.
What did I forget?
Have you ever had that feeling when you leave... what did I forget? Sustainable travel starts before you leave. Unplug appliances that won't be used, such as computers, chargers, televisions, video game players, and microwaves. This small, eco-conscious step can have a big impact on your home energy bill.
Think green before you drive.
Even if you travel in a hybrid car, the energy saving happens before you leave town. Take your vehicle for a maintenance check to increase gas mileage. Replace air filters, make sure tires are properly inflated, and recycle used motor oil and filter. Take the smallest car you can comfortably use.
Use online travel tools to plan and book your trip; when necessary, print out travel materials at home on recycled paper. Visit www.tnvacation.com to find complete travel tools for your next Tennessee vacation.
Aim low. Pack light.
Lightening your load is good for you and the environment. Traveling with less stuff and less waste pays off in less energy needed to transport you. Trim back on extra shoes and clothes. Make a one-page, basic checklist and tailor it for specific trips.
Be road ready.
Don't idle for more than a minute--turn the car off instead. Don't charge peripherals (cell phone, iPod, etc.) from the car battery unless absolutely necessary. It greatly reduces fuel efficiency.
Slow down, calm down, save gas. Slower speeds (55-70 mph) and less aggressive driving really boost gas mileage (between 12 and 31 percent!). Leave high speeds, hard braking and aggressive acceleration to stunt drivers. Set your cruise control (except in mountains) at the speed limit, and take it easy on those foot pedals.
Use alternative transportation.
Be creative! Research local energy-efficient transportation opportunities such as trains, buses, trolleys, boats, shuttles, biking and walking paths, and other means of public transportation. Having a car on the trip should not rule out other fun and interesting ways to take home a Tennessee memory.
Mingle with the locals.
Coordinate your trip to coincide with one of Tennessee's numerous festivals or celebrations. Not only are they fun, festivals provide a window into the culture and help to support traditional crafts and customs. Take home a memento of Tennessee crafts.
Experience Tennessee's rich culinary history at regional restaurants. Try slow-cooked barbecue and sweet tea, country ham and red-eye gravy, or a fine restaurant with locally grown meats, fruits and vegetables. Your time will be well spent with great food, tasty conversation, and you may make a friend along the way.
By definition, local produce is seasonal. Tennessee's three regions provide natural diversity for locally grown and farm fresh. This is a boon for biodiversity and your palate, since local crops are harvested at their peak of freshness and flavor. Small local farms are a valuable component of a community's character and agricultural heritage.
Reuse and recycle.
Take a reusable water bottle. Pack a reusable shopping bag to carry those wonderful Tennessee crafts and other purchases. Don't throw away disposables such as plastic cups, utensils and storage bags! Wash and save, as most will last many uses. After all, you wouldn't throw away your bicycle after one use.
Whenever possible, participate in the hotel or destination's recycling programs. Become acquainted with the local recycling program and sort your refuse accordingly.
Hit the switch.
One of the easiest ways to save energy at a hotel is to set the thermostat at a comfortable level when you are in the room and adjust accordingly when leaving for sightseeing. Turn off the lights and electronics when you leave. With one flip of a switch, you can be more energy efficient. Close the blinds or curtains in the summer; in the winter, open them to allow the room to be warmed by the sun.
Protect recreation sites, and take the initiative toward essential outdoor ethics. For instance, when camping, try using a camp stove instead of a campfire; use pre-existing campsites whenever possible; and avoid sensitive areas, such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands, and streams, unless on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage.
Take a brief bow.
Give yourself a pat on the back for helping to preserve and protect the serenity, excitement, color, and quality of "greenness" in the Volunteer State vacationland.