Green Travel with Kids! Tips to Make Family Vacations Eco-Friendly

Earth Day is coming up this week on Friday, April 22nd. To help honor this important global event, I’ve put together a list of tips to help make family vacations more eco-friendly.

solage calistoga eco-friendly resort exterior

Solage Calistoga eco-friendly resort in Napa Valley, CA

Carry Portable Water Bottles

Admittedly, I’m bad about drinking tap water when I travel. Clearly, it’s not an option in some destinations, but amazingly, in places where the tap water is perfectly fine, we seek bottled water. Sometimes it’s a matter of taste, but more often this is simply a bad habit.

Hotels contribute to the problem by leaving bottled water around the room. Those bedside bottles make you wonder what they know that you don’t. Regardless, sightseeing is one of those times when everyone gets thirsty, so why not be better about carrying around lightweight, reusable bottles. For a family of four, this will save 4-8 bottles a day!

Recycle on the Road

Every hotel room should have a recycling waste basket in guest rooms, but few do in practice. I never throw bottles in the general garbage in hotels. If I have to, I’ll leave it sitting on the side of the waste basket in hopes that the housekeeping staff will find it easy to recycle the bottles.

Given time, it’s best to carrying the bottles to the nearest recycling trash can, even if you have to leave the hotel to do so. We should all fill out hotel comment cards noting the lack of recycling when this is the case.

What do airlines do with all those little bottles consumed on flights? I don’t know this answer but a quick Google query produced this CNN article about the sorry state of airline recycling. Until we can be sure airlines recycle, bring bottles off the flight with you (many terminals are good about recycling bins).

Take a Train Instead of Flying or Driving

Skyrocketing gas prices will help encourage families to opt for public transportation on vacation. The reality is train travel is not a viable option in many destinations. In places like Europe, it’s readily available and in many cases, much easier than driving anyway!

Do the math before you make final decisions about getting from place to place. Once you add in driving time to the airport, waiting around time, and transportation back into a city — you’ll find that taking the train is nearly equal to flying for those shorter trips.

Unfortunately, train travel in Europe can be very expensive for multiple travelers. Be sure and read my interview with Rail Europe about tips for finding the best deals for families.

Do Laundry Less

Clearly, when you have a crawling baby and toddler who is into everything, it’s much more difficult to have kids wear clothes two times before washing them. For older kids, however, things like dark pants and jeans can easily make it through a few wearings. Pajamas also fall into this category.

If my son is an example, he finds it much easier to throw everything that comes off his body into the laundry basket instead of folding them and putting them back in the drawer. Being on vacation is an excellent opportunity to enforce better habits.

Hotels make it easy to reuse towels. Engage kids in the process of reading those little cards in the bathroom and on the pillow to actively opt out of extra laundry.

el capitan canyon eco friendly resort santa barbara ca

El Capitan Canyon Eco-Friendly Resort in Santa Barbara, CA

Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations

More and more hotels are engaging in eco-friendly practices around the world. Even if you’re not traveling to Costa Rica or Africa where an eco-lodging is plentiful, you can find properties who focus on caring for the environment.

We don’t have a way to search for eco-friendly hotels, but writing this post is a reminder that we should add this. All things being equal, if you had an easy way to identify a hotel with eco-friendly best practices, you’d make decisions accordingly.

Favorite examples from our portfolio include Solage Calistoga in Napa Valley and Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito (outside San Francisco). Stay tuned for a post identifying a comprehensive list.

As much as I’m a fan of kid-friendly luxury hotels, I also love camping. Even if you are not a camper, your kids will love it! There is a huge variety of campgrounds with facilities to make it a little less dirty (showers for one thing) and properties like El Capitan Canyon outside of Santa Barbara where you can have a camp-like experience with hotel amenities.

National Parks like Yosemite have tent cabins that allow you to “camp” without as much effort. See my camping tips with kids for key things to consider.

Google Green and Eco Activities for Kids

More and more destinations have green activities for kids. I did a quick “kids green activities” Google query of Chicago and immediately pulled this site for the Chicago Botanic Garden … in San Francisco pulled the Living Roof on Go City Kids and so on. These are just little examples, but the bottom line is that with minimal work, you can easily come up with lists of eco-friendly yet interesting things to do.

Related posts from the Travel Blog Mob:

Celebrate Earth Day with Free Admission at a US National Park on The Vacation Gals

Spring is Here – Get Out Into the World – Or Bring it Home on Wandering Educators

Spring Break Travel Questions from Kids on Traveling with MJ

Go Skiing but Not on Snow on Spot Cool Stuff

Relevant Links:

Green Travel with Travelocity

3 Comments

  1. Teaching kids the value of green travel carries over into other aspects oftheir lives as well, I believe. Great post.

  2. Good tips! Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to leave your green ways back home! I love that you mentioned recycling on the go!

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