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How To Minimize Your Carbon Footprint While Traveling

How To Minimize Your Carbon Footprint While Traveling

After a few years of staying close to home, travel is back in full force, and we couldn’t be happier. Exploring different places enriches our lives and allows us to connect with and appreciate other people and other cultures. As rewarding as travel is, unfortunately the carbon emissions from our trips can contribute to the effects of climate change. Still, there are things we as travelers can do to offset and reduce the environmental impact of our wandering — here are just a few tips for more sustainable travels.

Travel by Train (or Bus or Car)

Train passing Morant's curve at Bow Valley in autumn in Banff National Park.
Credit: i viewfinder/ Shutterstock


The airline industry is responsible for nearly 3% of global CO2. Planes use the most fuel (and thus have the highest carbon emissions) during takeoffs and landings. This means that shorter flights are considerably less efficient than long-hauls. And by the time you calculate the time needed to ensure a comfortable buffer with security, etc., at the airport, another mode of transportation may actually be quicker. If you’re traveling solo for a 200-mile trip, driving can actually emit more carbon (per passenger) than hopping on a plane. But with four people in the car, you’ve definitely made the carbon-smart choice. (If you do fly, choose non-stops when possible.)

Trains and buses are even more efficient, and offer a relaxing way to reach your destination. Enjoying the scenery (and maybe a cocktail) from an observation car or reading a book from a comfortable bus seat beats standing in line at security or fighting traffic any day. European favorite FlixBus has expanded routes in the United States and Canada, offering eco-friendly and affordable service with comfy seats with power outlets and fast Wifi. Greyhound is also upping its game and both offer perhaps a bus’s best selling point: no middle seats!

Pack with Purpose

Closed suitcase with folded clothes, sunglasses, and sandals on top.
Credit: JennyLee_Lariviere/ Shutterstock


Save your sanity and the planet by packing lightly and efficiently. Less luggage means less fuel is required for your belongings to make it to your destination — along with saving your back and additional baggage fees. Although it does involve planning in advance, a comfortable, practical capsule wardrobe in matching colors and hand-washable fabrics will require little room. If you’re traveling to a region where people may appreciate some items in your wardrobe, donate them at the end of your trip and use the reclaimed room in your suitcase to bring home souvenirs.

Single-use plastics take a huge toll on the environment, both in their manufacture and in the waste they leave behind. No traveler should be without their own water bottle, and bamboo utensils (including a reusable straw) are perfect for reducing waste and impromptu picnics. When possible, bring your own shampoo and toiletries in small refillable containers. And if there’s sunscreen involved, please ensure that it’s reef-safe.

Avoid Overtouristed Destinations

Canal lined with boats and people walking on sidewalks.
Credit: Yasonya/ Shutterstock


Except for the occasional music festival or sporting event, crowds are rarely any fun, and less-so when you’re on vacation. Overtourism has many negative consequences, be it on fragile environments, historic landmarks, or reduced quality (and increased costs) of life for locals. Governments and residents are starting to fight back, and thoughtful travelers have stopped “going for the ‘gram” and begun planning their trips more mindfully.

Ecotourism isn’t the only way, and it’s important to be aware of “greenwashing.” Although they’re often demonized, large resorts can often be more sustainable than individual lodgings that may lack infrastructure while driving local residents away from previously affordable housing. Timing your travel is important to consider, as well. If you must see Venice, visiting in the off-season will have less of an impact on the environment and the locals … and you’ll have a better time, too. Alternatives to overtourism abound: choose your next trip from one of the world’s top green destinations.

Eat Like a Local

Fresh vegetable in baskets at market in France.
Credit: Branka Tasevski/ Shutterstock


Sampling local specialties when traveling is — at least for many of us — half the fun of venturing away from home. Almost one quarter of all planet-warming greenhouse gases are directly caused by agriculture, so considering what we eat is an important component of leaving a lighter footprint when traveling.

A cooking class is a great way to explore a destination’s culinary culture and learn about local food production. Packing your own snacks (from home or bought at local markets) instead of purchasing pre-packaged helps keep plastic wrappers and containers out of landfills. Instead of indulging in imported items (which require fuel for transportation), savor the bounty of locally grown goodies. Animal flesh is especially resource-intensive, so eating less meat (especially red meat) drastically reduces your menu’s carbon “calories.” And avoid food waste by opting for small restaurants and steering clear of all-you-can eat resort buffets.

Little Things Add Up

Green tropical rainforest with mountains in background.
Credit: Sorn340 Studio Images/ Shutterstock


None of the above suggestions are onerous, and small and relatively easy changes can make a big difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions when we travel. Forgo unnecessary linen changes by using the “Do Not Disturb” sign on at your hotel, or indicating that you don’t require fresh sheets or towels every day. Lend your support to organizations that are improving the environment and the lives of local residents by volunteering or making a donation. And if you can afford to, consider purchasing carbon offsets — you can research them here. Working together, we can protect and enjoy this beautiful planet that we love to roam.

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8 Safety Tips While Traveling Aboard

8 Safety Tips While Traveling Abroad

There are few things more exciting than jetting off to an international destination and it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of a new adventure. While the odds are good that you’ll come home unscathed and with pleasant memories, it’s important to heed certain safety precautions no matter where you plan to go.

Be Familiar with the Layout of Your Destination

A man and woman studying a map while hiking.
Credit: skynesher/ iStock

Before you head out to explore, take time to get to know your destination, reviewing a map of the area to help you get your bearings. Search for a local forum online to get information from those who know the city well to find out if there are any neighborhoods that should be avoided.

Forums on TripAdvisor and Reddit are great for asking questions of those who’ve been there before. Reddit also has subreddits specific to countries where you can ask a question and it will likely be answered by those with expert local insight. You can also search for groups on Facebook that are specifically focused on travel to a particular city or country. You can also download safety apps, like OZZI, to receive safety alerts for the area you’re traveling too, and to keep up-to-date on potential emergencies or problems while you’re visiting.

Be Prepared for Pickpockets and Scams

A woman's bag being pickpocketed.
Credit: Oat_Phawat/ iStock

In just about any city where crowds gather, pickpockets and scams are a possibility, and in some places, they’re extremely common. In Rome, a would-be thief might try and distract you by placing a bird on your shoulder and offering to take your photo. Instead, they make off with your wallet or purse.

Never put your wallet, phone, or hotel room key in your back pocket when you’re walking city streets, on public transport, or in an area with a lot of people. Clothes with hidden pockets, money belts, or a cross-body handbag are all good alternatives. Any time you’re exploring a new place stay alert and aware of your surroundings. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment, making you an easy target.

Don’t Share Too Much

A woman tourist overlooking a mountain.
Credit: margouillatphotos/ iStock

One of the best parts of traveling is the opportunity to meet people you probably wouldn’t have a chance to meet at home. But be cautious about sharing too much when striking up a conversation with a stranger. For example, never tell someone you just met where you’re staying in town. The sad reality is that are some who will see your willingness to share as a signal that you’re easy to take advantage of.

Bring Several Different Forms of Money

A man opening his wallet.
Credit: shironosov/ iStock

Not having access to money can put anyone in a bind so be sure to bring more than one form. Certain debit or credit cards may not work in the destination you’re visiting so you’ll want to bring a backup or two. Keep an emergency card somewhere other than your wallet and carry some local cash as well. Try to exchange currency at your bank before you travel, as it’s often much less expensive than using an exchange kiosk at the airport. Store bundles of cash in multiple places, including your carry-on, a checked bag, and somewhere on your person. That way, if you’re separated from your luggage, you won’t lose all your budgeted money.

Learn Helpful Phrases and Carry a Translator

An older woman looking at her phone.
Credit: :RgStudio/ iStock

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, you should learn basic phrases like “hello,” “please” and “thank you,” as it shows that you’re interested in the culture, and you might make a friend or two in the process.  But you’ll also want to know certain phrases to use in an emergency situation like “Call the police” or “Where is the hospital?”

As your newfound knowledge is unlikely to cover everything, having a translator app on your phone or simply knowing how to use Google Translate can be a lifesaver.

Keep Family and Friends Updated on Your Whereabouts

A man on a bike smiling.
Credit: AleksandarNakic/ iStock

Before you leave, send a copy of your itinerary to a few people you trust so that they know where to reach you if there is an emergency back home. At the same time, you’ll want to keep in touch with them on a regular basis, whether by phone call, text, or email, so they’ll know you’ve made it to each destination you plan to visit. Be sure to include the addresses and phone numbers of your accommodations as well as flight numbers and other transportation details.

Research Transportation Options

Two women sharing an umbrella in the London rain.
Credit: zoranm/ iStock

If you don’t plan to rent a car, be sure to research the transportation options to find out which taxi companies are reputable. Taxi scams are common in many cities around the world – know what they are and how to avoid them.

If ride-sharing apps like Uber are commonly used in the area and you plan to get around that way, double check the vehicle information and verify the driver’s name before getting into the car.

And if public transportation like buses or a metro is the most convenient way to get around, be sure to get a copy of the route maps ahead of time. Buy your tickets or city pass early if you can, and plan out your route before you get to the station so you know exactly where you’re going.

Drink Responsibly

A group of friends cheering with wine at sunset.
Credit: Morsa Images/ iStock

If you drink alcohol, one of the most important safety tips to heed is to limit how much you consume. While it can be fun to explore the local nightlife, it’s even more critical to drink responsibly when traveling abroad as you’re more likely to get lost, lose your purse, wallet, or phone, and be an easier target for robbery, scams or worse.

Another rule to follow is to always keep an eye on your drink and never accept a drink from a stranger. Keep an eye on your traveling companions and make a solid plan for returning to your dwelling at the end of the evening.

Feature image credit: FTiare/ iStock

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5 Travel Mistakes To Avoid In Europe

5 Travel Mistakes To Avoid In Europe

If Europe’s calling, pinning down a workable travel plan can be tricky. It’s easy to get carried away and find that your dream itinerary is both overambitious for the time you have at your disposal and, far too often, beyond your budget. Whether you’re a rookie or someone who’s keen to get it right the second time around, here are five travel mistakes to avoid in Europe.

Sticking Only to the Big Cities

White cone-shaped trulli houses lining street in Alberobello, Puglia, Italy.
Credit: roman_slavik/ iStock


Europe’s major cities, such as London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, are tourist magnets – and rightly so. Their many museums and galleries, coupled with an abundance of world-class restaurants and lively nightlife attract millions of visitors every year. But don’t overlook small towns and countryside areas in your rush to tick off those must-see sights. Often, accommodation is cheaper and there’s still plenty to see and do. In Spain, the Andalusian countryside is littered with pueblos blancos with quaint squares and cobbled streets lined with whitewashed homes. Tourists to Italy rarely get as far south as Puglia, yet those that do will delight in Alberobello’s curious cone-shaped trulli. Visit Vienna, the Austrian capital, but then catch a train west to the Tirol, where the craggy peaks of the Wilder Kaiser mountains form a scenic backdrop to centuries-old wooden chalets festooned with scarlet geraniums. Tour off-the-beaten-track Lithuania, leaving Vilnius behind as you strike out for the dunes of the Curonian Spit and quirky sites like the Hill of Crosses.

Trying to See and Do Everything

Norwegian fishing village at the Lofoten Islands in Norway.
Credit: izhairguns/ iStock


Vacations are supposed to be about relaxing and having fun, so punishing schedules are a big mistake. But there’s a lot packed into a relatively small space: Germany’s population density, by no means the highest in Europe, is almost 10 times that of Nebraska and more than 35 times higher than New Mexico’s average. Distances that seem temptingly close by North American standards won’t be anywhere near as attractive if you’re stuck in traffic for hours.

Get more out of your trip by focusing on a smaller area and exploring it more thoroughly, replacing time on the road with activities and experiences. Island-hop through the Aegean, pairing Santorini’s exquisite caldera sunsets with the lively dance scene of Mykonos. Tour the Norwegian fjords, beginning in historic Bergen and finishing up in the cute Lofoten Islands north of the Arctic Circle. Or, hire a camper van to trundle around Scotland’s North Coast 500 route, renowned for its white sand beaches, charming fishing villages, and mountain scenery.

Forgetting About Public Transportation

Tram going through streets in Lisbon.
Credit: Jui-Chi Chan/ istock


Before you rush to rent a car, think about whether taking the self-drive route is going to be a help or a hindrance during your European vacation. Ditch the car and you’ll not only save precious time searching for a parking space, but also money. But that doesn’t mean you have to shell out a fortune on taxis. Depending on what your plans are, you might find that using public transport not only works out cheaper but is much less hassle.

Sometimes, even, European public transport is a visitor attraction in its own right. Clatter over the cobbles as you ride the #28 tram through Lisbon, for instance, or ride the world’s first rotating gondola up to the summit of Mount Titlis in Switzerland to have fun summer snow-tubing. Head over to Sweden and explore Stockholm’s tranquil island archipelago by public ferry or jump on the Petřín funicular in Prague to take in the jaw-dropping view over the Czech capital from the top of the hill.

Carrying a Bunch of Euros

Various Euro bank notes.
Credit: Santje09/ iStock


The euro is accepted in 20 countries, most recently in Croatia, which entered the Eurozone on January 1st, 2023. However that’s not the case everywhere – in fact, not even across the whole of the EU. Some of the many European countries that use other currencies include the UK (pounds), Poland (zloty), Hungary (forint) and Switzerland (francs). Czechia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland all use crowns (variously referred to as koruna, krone, kronor or króna) though confusingly, they’re not all the same type. However, getting your currencies mixed up might not be the disaster that you think. In many countries across Europe, the use of cash is becoming rarer as paying by app or credit and debit cards becomes ever more widespread. When you really do need cash, there’s no shortage of ATMs and foreign exchange bureaux.

Underestimating the Time You’ll Spend Queuing

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
Credit: espiegle/ istock


Even outside the main summer season, Europe’s top visitor attractions can get exceptionally busy. Queues snake beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris, down the street from Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia and round the block from the London Eye. To avoid wasting a great chunk of your Europe vacation standing in line takes a little planning – but isn’t impossible. First, find out if the attraction you want to see offers a skip-the-line option, perhaps when you join a tour. Other places might utilize a timed slot system to spread out demand; check well in advance if you expect to visit when it’s going to be especially popular, such as on a holiday weekend. Some destinations are overrun with day-trippers. If that’s the case, staying overnight might help because you could visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

If you do end up having to wait, carry a phone with a data plan so you can make the most of your downtime to check your social media, browse dinner menus online or plan the next day’s sightseeing. And finally, ask yourself if you’re really interested in what you’re queuing for – sometimes we get so hung up on what we should see that we forget what makes us happy.

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The Best US Summer Getaway for Every Type of Traveler

The Best US Summer Getaway For Every Type Of Traveler

For many, summer brings unforgettable getaways and relaxing vacations, ushering in a season of both rest and adventure. Whether you want to escape to rugged mountains or relax on pristine beaches, the United States offers endless options for unique escapes. Here are the best U.S. summer getaways for every type of traveler. 

For Mountains: Telluride, Colorado

San Juan Mountains and modern resort lodge.
Credit: Kristi Blokhin/ Shutterstock

Snowy slopes and cozy mountain lodges might be the first thing that come to mind when envisioning Telluride, but this Colorado ski town is also an incredible place to spend your summer vacation. Come summer, the ski resort transforms into a mountain biking haven, nearby streams are perfect for trying your hand at fly fishing, and the many art galleries in town are waiting to be perused. Nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, Telluride has endless day trip options, like the mining towns of Silverton and Durango, and the UNESCO World Heritage site Mesa Verde. If you’re feeling especially adventurous and want to take on a challenge, head up one of the popular Colorado 14ers, a mountain over 14,000 feet tall, for breathtaking views and a chance to boost your confidence. Though be warned, these hikes aren’t for the faint of heart. 

For the Beach: Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Ocracoke Lighthouse on Ocracoke , North Carolina at sunset.
Credit: Chansak Joe/ Shutterstock

Looking for a beach that isn’t on the typical tourist path? Bypass the hordes of visitors who flock to Florida or California come summer, and head instead to the Outer Banks, the rugged coastline of North Carolina. Ocracoke Island, located smack dab in the middle of this chain of barrier islands, is a magical place to spend your summer. Search for shells on nearby Portsmouth Island, learn about the history of the infamous pirate Blackbeard, and indulge in local seafood at the Ocracoke Oyster Company. You’ll be enraptured by the fascinating past and unpretentious beauty of the Outer Banks. Be sure to stop by 1718 Brewing for a Notorious Fig, an homage to the island’s signature fruit. 

For a City: San Francisco, California

Row of Painted Ladies houses with skyscrapers in distance.
Credit: Luciano Mortula – LGM/ Shutterstock

Not only one of the best city breaks in the United States, San Francisco is also one of the best summer destinations for those seeking an urban sprawl with lots to explore. Take a catamaran cruise underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, laugh at the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, or dig into a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder at the famous Boudin Bakery. Come prepared with warm layers as the Golden City can have chilly night time temperatures and foggy conditions, even in the heart of summer. San Francisco enjoys a Mediterranean climate which means mild temperatures year-round and scorching summer heat is a rarity. 

For a Lake: Finger Lakes, New York

Keuka Lake surrounded by green trees during the summertime.
Credit: antsdrone/ Shutterstock

Not far from the Canadian border, a cluster of lakes, like fingerprints in the sand, were created by glaciers thousands of years ago. These are the Finger Lakes, an idyllic setting for your next summer vacation. Hop between towns like Elmira, Watkins Glen, Penn Yan, and Owego, all just as quaint as their names suggest. Wine lovers are in for a treat as the Finger Lakes is a burgeoning wine region with pinot noir and cabernet franc being the most popularly grown varietals and a dedicated Finger Lakes Wine Festival takes place every July. Art lovers will rejoice with the Corning Museum of Glass and Rockwell Museum both located in this picturesque countryside. Mark Twain himself was inspired by the natural beauty of the area, spending many summers writing his most famous books by the lakeside. When the heat gets going, head to the lakes for a refreshing dip or to rent a boat to search for the perfect secluded swimming hole. If you’re looking for a larger lake to explore, Cayuga or Seneca Lake are the largest of the eleven, offering plenty of activities on the water and the shore. 

For the Desert:  Sedona, Arizona

Devil's Bridge Trail and scenic panorama of Sedona.
Credit: Nikolas_jkd/ Shutterstock

Embrace the arid summer heat and head to the desert for a unique escape this summer. Located in Arizona’s Verde Valley, the Red Rock City, as it was affectionately dubbed, is the perfect getaway for outdoor lovers with over 400 miles of hiking trails among beautiful sandstone rock formations. Despite often being thought of as a strictly desert destination, Sedona is a climate hybrid of sorts and enjoys four distinct seasons. This corner of the world is said to be a healing energy vortex and has been a hub for spirituality seekers for decades. Head to one of the many spas or wellness retreats to get a taste of the magic yourself. While Sedona can see temperatures in the range of 100° come July, the climate is arid and doesn’t feel quite as hot as other cities in Arizona like Phoenix and Scottsdale with cool, desert evenings that can dip as low as 60°. If you aren’t afraid to take the heat, head out to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, only a short drive away, and witness one of the world’s natural wonders. Just remember to bring lots of sunscreen and water. 

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