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Tips to Make Your Family Vacation Sustainable

Ah, the beach! The lake! The mountains! The river! The whatever-getaway adventure you’ve been waiting for all year! It’s time to kick back, relax, decompress, destress, read books, consume good food, and generally enjoy all the best life has to offer.

If you’re heading away from home soon, don’t forget to pack your commitment to creation care. There’s no need for creation care to be the Debbie Downer of your vacation planning. All it takes is a little extra effort, a smidgen more mindfulness, and acknowledging that we’re all a part of a great big world community that relies on each other to care for one another… even when we’re on vacation.

Here’s a few ways you can make your next family vacation a little more earth-friendly.

Stay Places with “Green” in Mind

Ohioans like me all seem to migrate to the Atlantic coast for summer vacation, which is great for the tourism economy but hard on the beaches, waterways, and surrounding ecosystem.

When you’re picking your vacation destinations, consider going somewhere off the beaten path or in the off-season. Your trip can still benefit the local economy while minimizing the environmental impact of so many travelers descending at once. Or, design a trip that is built around sustainability by working with lokal, a sustainable travel agency. 

Once you’ve decided on your destination, you can find the most sustainable places to stay that benefit the local economy and reduce the environmental impact of tourism. Use a search engine like to find the greenest accommodation options. 

Choose Sustainable Transportation to Get There

As easy as it is to hop a jet plane and skip across the country to your vacation destination, it’s often the most expensive option, and it’s definitely one of the most ugly contributors of carbon emissions. Use AAA’s trip calculator to determine how much it’s going to cost you to drive instead of fly, and if possible, consider other modes of public transportation (like buses or trains).

Travel Slow: Stay Longer and Look Deeper

The greatest expense and most environmentally impactful aspects of travel are wrapped up in getting there and getting home. A “slow travel” trip means instead of trying to hit a whole bunch of different destinations on one wild and wonderful adventure, pick one place and go deep in that region. Explore all the area has to offer (lowering your miles and hours in the car). Stay in the same hotel or B&B (which reduces the number of times rooms have to be cleaned and turned over).

Choosing to stay in one place for a longer period of time might benefit local economies more as well.

Rent-An-EV or Use Public Transportation

If you have to fly to a destination, once you get there, consider renting an electric vehicle rather than a fuel-dependent vehicle. You can also make a difference by relying as much as possible on public transportation to cut down on fuel usage while you’re on vacation. 

Choose sightseeing options like kayak, bike, paddleboard, or walking tours to experience the area instead of hopping in a private vehicle or boarding a tour bus.

Bring Refillable Water Bottles

It’s so easy to pick up a case of 24 disposable plastic water bottles, right? Bring a refillable water bottle instead for a simple cost-saving and plastic-reducing measure on your trip. Water fountains are still everywhere, and still free. If you need to buy water for your beach rental, try to get the largest jug you can and refill it throughout the week.

Choose Local, Plant-Based Meals

Food that is grown locally and plant-based is the most economically efficient option (local food doesn’t have to travel as far as food that needs to be transported to an area). Eat locally from places that advertise being farm-to-table or source their food from local farms. Independent restaurants that serve traditional and local cuisine are more than likely also selecting food from local sources. 

And shop the local farmers’ market for the freshest of the fresh fruits and veggies to stock your beach house fridge!

Treat Your Rental Like Your Home

Wherever you end up staying, your sustainability habits that you’ve developed at home ought to come with you. The phrase, “Don’t be gentle, it’s a rental,” doesn’t exactly jive with the Golden Rule, amiright or amiright? 

Turn off the TV when you leave, flip off light switches, keep the dial on the thermostat at reasonable temps, close doors to conserve the A/C, and recycle while you’re on the road.

Remember, Your Vacation Destination Is Someone Else’s Backyard

Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is like it, love your neighbor as you love yourself. When you’re on vacation, you’re in someone else’s neighborhood, whether it’s a turtle or a teenager. You can enjoy your time away, experiencing all that God has created, while extending love and gratitude to those you encounter both in the natural world and on the boardwalk.

Now go, explore all the wild world has to offer!

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