10 Tips for Sustainable Travel

Honda Insight at White Sands National Monument

Honda Insight at White Sands National Monument

Travel might not be the most sustainable activity you can take part in, but following this list of tips will help reduce your trip’s impact on the environment. Large amounts of fossil fuels, or old dinosaurs, are burned everyday to run planes, trains, and automobiles. There are approximately 93,000 commercial flights everyday, that is crazy! We have tried to mitigate some of it by traveling in a Honda Insight Hybrid, which we have been averaging around 44 miles to the gallon, not bad at all. We came up with this list, in no particular order, of other “green” things we can do as travelers to help Mother Nature.

1) Carbon Offset – There are companies out there like Trip Zero http://www.tripzero.com who will offset your trip’s carbon footprint, free of charge. Eric Zimmerman, TripZero’s founder, explains how it works, “When you book travel through our site, we calculate the TripZerocarbon footprint created by your trip.  We include both the impact of our transportation (air, train, car or bus) and your hotel stay.  Then we offset that footprint by funding renewable energy and forestry projects.  So, for example, when your flight to San Francisco creates two tons of C02 pollution, one of our forestry projects in Africa literally sucks that C02 out of our shared atmosphere. Best of all, it’s free.  Through our partnership with Expedia we’re able to offer you the guaranteed lowest prices on the Internet.  And there’s absolutely no charge for the carbon offsets, ever.”

2) Reusable Coffee Mug – Use this instead of using the paper cups provided at most hotels and gas stations. You’ll be able to take more liquid with you and it will stay hotter longer. Check out KeepCup The Worlds First Barista Standard 12-Ounce Reusable Cup, Lunar Eclipse, Medium

3) Hit the Light Switch – When you leave your room, turn out all the lights. If you need some light as you exit, open the widow curtains.

4) Reuse Bath Towels – Hang your towel up and use it a second time. You were clean the first time you used it.

5) Recycle – Use recycle containers when you can. I know from experience that we (USA) have a long way to go in getting recycling implemented all over the country, but when you have the option to recycle, use it. Some city’s, like Seattle, have done an incredible job while others have a long way to go. Bonus points for Compost!

6) Sustainable Eating – Seek out farmers markets to find locally grown, organic, cost SeafoodWatcheffective and healthy eating options. Costas Christ, National Geographic Traveler contributing editor, added the use of smartphone apps like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Watch to “avoid accidentally dining on threatened fish stocks.” You can read more of Costas’ work at National Geographic Traveler.

7) Eco Tourism – Stay at an Eco Lodge. Nowadays these can be found all over the world. Linda McCormick, from Eco Traveller Guide adds, “If you do want to stay at an eco lodge, make sure you ask to see the accommodation’s eco credentials before booking, or better still, ask a few questions, and always make sure you do a little research. Many lodges have jumped on the eco bandwagon, but are anything but green. There are internationally-recognized criteria as to what constitutes an eco lodge, drawn up by International Ecotourism Society co-founder Hitesh Mehta. They’re worth reading if you’re serious about finding a really good eco lodge: http://www.ecotravellerguide.com/2012/11/how-do-you-know-if-youre-staying-in-an-ecolodge/.”

8) Solar Charge – Use solar chargers to power your smart phone, tablet, or laptop. Even Goal-Zerouse larger systems on your RV and get off the grid, saving you a ton of cash and cutting down CO2 emissions through coal generated electricity. Check out the Goal Zero 41001 Switch 8 Silver/Black Solar Recharging Kit

9) Reusable Grocery Bags – Stop using plastic bags, they’re terrible for the environment. Bring reusable bags into the store with you. You can even take it a step further and use Reusable Produce Bags. Most store will give you money back for using your own bags too.

10) Personal Products – Use “green” beauty products on that pretty face of yours, your body and the environment will thank you. Whole Foods and other Organic Stores and Coops sell travel size “green” products.

So, how do you protect the environment when traveling? Has anyone visited an Eco Lodge and what was your take on it?

Follow along on our adventure at Facebook http://www.facebook.com/travelingchimps Twitter https://twitter.com/TravelingChimps and YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/travelingchimps

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Vagabond Dog – Pet Travel Tips

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Vagabonding with a family can be a challenge, testing your patience and problem solving skills everyday. Adding the family dog to the mix adds a whole other level of effort and planning, but life is better with a pet. After all, having a pet decreases your stress levels and helps you live longer.

We travel with a 6 year old English Bulldog named Brutus, fitting name, and we’ve learned a few things about traveling with a dog that we want to share. One, not all hotels are pet friendly, and many like Marriott claim to be friendly, but will charge exorbitant fees per night, upwards of $120 per night, so make sure you do a little research on hidden pet fees. Most hotel websites have the information on their sites, though you may have to dig some. We have been using the Priceline app on our smartphones which has a filter for pet friendly as well as, free breakfast, free parking, wifi, etc. this has saved us a ton of time and money out here on the road. You can find the app at www.priceline.com, bottom right on the home page.

Brutus

Brutus

Second, keeping a supply of dog food can be a challenge. Bulldogs are very sensitive to their food and it’s difficult to suddenly change their food on them. Our dog eats a food only found at Petco. We have to monitor his food supply closely and hit Petco regularly since we don’t have much room for extra food. Google maps has been a great resource for finding Petco all over America, though we have certainly hit some patches of the country where there were no Petco’s to be found.

Third, water, especially since our road trip has now taken us into the desert, where we have seen temperatures well over 100 degrees. We make frequent stops for water and bathroom breaks. Remember your dog is walking around with a coat on, they can over heat very quickly, which obviously is not healthy for them. Plus, making frequent stops for humans isn’t a bad thing either. Grab a coffee, stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery, you may never make it back to this spot.

Del Mar Dog Beach

Del Mar Dog Beach

Fourth, exercise. We have found some great places around the country to take the dog, though remember your dog can’t go everywhere and plan accordingly, you don’t want to leave you dog in the car while you hike through White Sands New Mexico. In California we found some fantastic dog beaches, again using Google maps. We recommend the Del Mar Dog Beach just north of San Diego near Torry Pines, incredible, though I’ll warn you there will be hundreds of dogs and make sure you bring plenty of water.

Lastly, make sure you have your dogs medical records with you. We took Brutus to the doggy spa while we went to Disneyland. The kennel will want to see proof the your dog has all the necessary shots to spend the night and if you need to see a vet out on the road, their medical record could be very valuable as well.

P.S clean up after your dog too!

What experiences or challenges have you all had traveling with furry friends?

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Planning the US Road Trip

There’s a lot more to driving cross country than getting in your car with a full tank of gas and Google maps. We’ve actually been working on it for 6 days and we’re still not 100% done with the plan. We know we have to be out of our house by the end of March and we know that we need to be in Happy Camp, CA for our first house sit by April 15th, so we have plenty of time to make the voyage. We plan on spending multiple days in at least two locations, Mount Rushmore/Wounded Knee and Yellowstone National Park, as well a week in Portland, OR. Probably hitting some skateparks along the way too. Our flexibility has us locating hotels in certain areas, but not actually booking the rooms.

We plan on taking the Northern Route hitting, PA, OH, IN, IL, WI, MN, SD, MT, WY, ID, WA, OR, CA, and keeping our driving hours to around 5 hours per day. Motel 6 seems to be our best choice of lodging for both budget as well as pet friendliness, well behaved dogs stay for free. Many hotel chains either do not allow pets or charge anywhere from $10 – $200 extra per stay. I’ve been a long time Marriott Platinum member. I contacted their customer service and was told Marriott charges from $75 – $100, I’ll be rethinking my loyalty.

Having never planned a cross country trip, we looked to Google to find some help and discovered a couple of tools we’d like to share with you. One great tool is My Scenic Drive https://www.myscenicdrives.com It’s a free road trip planer that includes directions, to do list, daily breakdowns and fuel estimates, to name a few features. We adjusted the amount of hours you would like to drive each day and the tool calculated where we should try to stay each night. Very easy to use and best of all, for budget conscious travelers, Free!

My Scenic Drives

My Scenic Drives

The end of our cross country trip is a week in Portland, OR. For stays longer than a day or two, we’re finding that corporate housing and extended stay accommodations can be much more economical, though we did find a site called Airbnb www.airbnb.com with local accommodations at competitive pricing. Locals rent out everything from rooms in their houses, Air Stream trailors in their yards, to full houses and condos. My plan really was to rave about the site, but after trying to book accommodations at several properties, one even having a skatepark in the back yard, with no luck, I’m starting to second guess how cool this site really is. The pricing is pretty good, but watch for hidden fees, beyond the Airbnb fee added on to each reservation of $37 – $68.  Many properties charge an extra $10-$20 per person, per night, that adds up quick for a family of 4 with a dog, and we’re finding people are not updating their calendars, so when we try to book, suddenly their not going to be around that week. Also, some folks charge a cleaning fee, around $10 – $20 per stay.  However, there really are some interesting properties listed on the site. We would say it’s a great concept, terrible execution. There are a few up and coming sites that may give Airbnb a run for their money, but their inventory is low at the moment.

extended_stay_america_logoWe’re probably going to just stay at an Extended Stay. You get a full kitchen which enables us to go to the local farmers markets and grocery stores and cuts down on having to dine out, which can get expensive and usually is not as healthy.

Next up – Move our remaining stuff to storage and hitting the open road. What tools have you used to plan a US road trip? Leave us a comment below.

Follow along on our adventure at Facebook http://www.facebook.com/travelingchimps Twitter https://twitter.com/TravelingChimps and YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/travelingchimps

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