Trips to cozy cabins, posh ski resorts and warm-weather getaway destinations are pretty common this time of year. But are there ways to make your getaway a little greener? If you’re planning a romantic vacay for your sweetheart this winter, Earth911 has you covered. From low-priced staycations to low-impact luxury, here are five ways to green your winter getaway (without skimping on the aww factor).
1. Plan a staycation
Most of us start browsing travel sites when planning a romantic vacation. But why inflate your carbon footprint – and your monthly bills – when you can enjoy a touch of relaxation right in your own home?
Consider this: the average North American vacation for two will cost $244 per day for lodging and meals, according to the American Automobile Association. Add travel expenses to the mix, and you could be looking at a pretty hefty price-tag for your getaway. Minimize the hassle (and your credit card bill) by planning a staycation instead.
Clear your work schedule, find a sitter for the kids and take a moment to truly enjoy your home with your partner. For those cozy nights in, prepare a tasty candle-lit meal, or pamper each other with homemade spa treatments.
To stave off cabin fever, plan day-trips to unexplored locations in your hometown. Take a walk through a local park or botanical garden, visit a new sustainable restaurant or take in a show at a nearby concert venue. Turn off the cell phones, and don’t check your email for the duration of your at-home vacation to make you feel “away from it all.”
2. Travel green
For an eco getaway that’s a little farther from home, consider choosing a destination accessible by train or bus to cut down on your carbon footprint. Using public transportation also minimizes the stress of your trip (read: no driving or security lines). Check out our handy regional guide to finding a hot destination near you.
If you’re set on a far-off destination for your trip, the question often becomes: To drive, or to fly? Most people think road trips carry a smaller footprint than air travel, but that isn’t always the case.
A round-trip, non-stop flight for two people creates approximately 0.9 pounds of carbon emissions per mile, according to the TerraPass carbon calculator. So, flying creates a fairly sizable footprint compared to driving a small, fuel-efficient car – which creates about 0.6 pounds of carbon emissions per mile, according to Sightline Institute.
But if your car gets 21 MPGs or less, flying may be better than road-tripping to your vacation destination. Sightline Institute estimates that larger, less fuel-efficient cars can produce a whopping 1.1 to 1.6 pounds of carbon emissions per mile, making the footprint of your airline ticket seem much smaller.
To banish both planes and cars from your winter vacay, consider traveling by boat like eco couple Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee. Over 12 months, the planet-friendly twosome visited 56 cities in 14 countries, including China, Turkey, Russia and Italy, and rode in only one car – cutting their travel footprint by more than half.
3. Choose a planet-friendly destination
From buying all-local to heating with renewables, a growing number of hotels and resorts are upping the ante when it comes to sustainability. So, when choosing lodging for your getaway, opt for a hotel or resort with a conscience.
4. Pick an organic sip
No romantic retreat would be complete without a bit of vino. So, why not choose a wine that’s good for you and the planet? Organic wines are made from sustainably-farmed, Certified Organic grapes – meaning less impact on local ecosystems. Many also say these wines are tastier and better for your bod.
The Organic Wine Company provides a huge selection of Earth-friendly wines, including reds, whites, blushes and bubblies for the sip that suits you best. If you can’t find this brand at your local grocer or prefer to save shipping costs and emissions, look for other sustainable wines from your area.
5. Get outside
Whether you’re staying home or traveling for your winter getaway, the greenest thing you can do is get outside.
Enjoying the outdoors helps you remember why protecting the planet is so important, and you’ll save on energy, too! Instead of setting the thermostat to the perfect temperature and turning on the lights in every room, plan some fun outdoor activities to feel at one with Mother Nature.
Take walk, hike or bike ride to explore your destination sans-car. And don’t be afraid to try something different! If you and your partner are typically skiers, give snowboarding a try. If you’re visiting a warm-weather destination, take a surfboarding, snorkeling or parasailing lesson to add some outdoor fun to your getaway. Learning something new together is a fun bonding experience and a great excuse to get outside.