The Principles of No-Trace Travel
Eco-Friendly Vacation Travel Options
Supporting Local Economies and Communities on Your Green Vacation

Choosing Green Vacation Accommodations

You have eco-friendly vacation accommodation options whether you’re spending time in the world’s great cities or on top of a mountain. Check out the accommodation options carefully to make sure that they’re as green as you are. In general, staying in smaller, locally owned hotels, bed and breakfast (B&B) inns, or self-catering accommodations — essentially anywhere that’s not part of a big international chain — means that the money that you spend on the accommodation has a much better chance of staying in and supporting the local economy.

The greenest accommodations include the following:

  • Campsites: They’re one of the greenest accommodations because they reduce the amount of local power and water you’re likely to use — as long as you’re following low-impact choices. For example, you should avoid burning local firewood in places such as Nepal where wood is a scarce resource.

  • Self-catering rooms or apartments: These are the next greenest options because they allow you to buy and prepare local food and to control the amount of energy you use.

    You may find that the self-catering option is much less expensive than other options, too. For example, a small apartment in Paris can accommodate an entire family very comfortably for a week at a cost far less than a hotel room or two, and many Parisian apartments are within a block or two of the Metro subway line.

Even if you’re staying in a more traditional accommodation, you can still be green. Here are some options:

  • Bed and breakfasts: They’re often in private homes where the owner is also your host. You get a chance to enjoy charming rooms, delicious breakfasts (often featuring local produce), and insider knowledge about the local area.

    Enjoy the charm and beauty at a B&B. [Credit: PhotoDisc, Inc.]
    Credit: PhotoDisc, Inc.
    Enjoy the charm and beauty at a B&B.
  • Hostels: This excellent option offers the company of fellow travelers and plenty of local information and contacts.

  • Hotels or motels: Many hotels and motels are incorporating green elements into their day-to-day operations. At their most basic, you should expect an option for reusing towels rather than replacing them every day, and facilities for recycling items such as newspapers and beverage containers. However, many hotels and motels have gone much further: They may use their own renewable energy sources (including solar panels, wind turbines, and even hydroelectricity), have water-saving devices, be decorated with local art, feature environmentally friendly and recycled materials in their décor, and use local produce in their kitchens.

When you find a place that you think fits the bill, don’t hesitate to call and ask about its green elements, or ask your tour operator for the details. You should know anything that indicates how well an accommodation treats its staff and whether it employs local people at fair wages.

When you’re choosing somewhere to stay, be sure to check its location carefully. The ideal place is somewhere you can get to from the airport or train station without having to rent a car and somewhere that’s close to everything you want to see so that you can walk, cycle, or use public transport to get around.

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