1. Choose your destination wisely.
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when choosing a destination. How well is your destination country doing on environmental protection? (If you are coming to Germany, the answer is: pretty darn good.) How far will you have to travel to get there? “Fly less, stay longer,” is generally a good motto.
2. Offset your carbon use.
If you are determined to take a long flight, you can always participate in a carbon offset program to ease your conscience and environmental burden. These programs allow you to calculate the carbon output of your trip and then make a donation to a carbon-friendly project accordingly.
3. Start at home.
Before you leave, unplug all of your appliances. They use electricity even when turned off, as long as they are plugged in. It may not be a lot, but every little bit counts.
4. Pack light.
The heavier the plane, the more energy it takes to fly, the higher the carbon footprint of your journey. Pack a Kindle instead of heavy novels and keep your luggage light.
5. Travel green.
You might not be able to avoid a plane ride, but once you’ve arrived, be conscious in your choice of transportation. Bike rides and walking tours are a great eco-friendly way to intimately get to know a new city. When all else fails, buses, trains, and cars carrying more than two passengers are low-carbon options.
6. Sleep green.
Choose a hotel that is eco-friendly, and act consciously while there. That means no bottled water, no 60-miunte showers, and no freshly laundered towel every morning. Act like you would in the comfort of your own home. We’ve got more advice on finding eco-friendly accommodations here.
7. Shop smart.
Do you really need that plastic souvenir to remember your trip? Novelty items are quickly forgotten, while digital photographs don’t involve extra resources and are a great way of documenting your trip. If you do take something home, try to support a local business with sustainable practices.
In Germany, you will see recycling bins everywhere. So take a moment to learn what goes where and put your plastic or paper in the right bin so it can have a second life.
Avoid buying items with extra packaging in the first place. You could carry water in a refillable bottle, refuse a plastic bag at a store (which, by the way, are not free in German grocery stores), or eat at the restaurant instead of getting your food to go.
Nobody is perfect, and vacation is a time to have fun! Don’t leave your eco-friendly habits at home, and you will find yourself making smart choices automatically.