Keeping IT Close to Home

Just uttering the word "vacation" conjures images of sandy white beaches, mountain treks, and nine-hour road trips. But, what if it meant staying home?

National Geographic’s Green Guide recently featured a piece on vacationing carbon free in your own city. Instead of housework, chores, or to-do lists, seek out local adventures like searching for the best sangria in a Spanish neighborhood or the top sushi in Chinatown. Or, how about hitting up the farmers market to prepare an outdoor feast, or taking advantage of free art gallery admissions on a weekday morning when you’re usually at work? If you hadn’t noticed, IT has this policy down pat: Check out all of our backyard vacations!

From the Green Guide:

"Alan Durning, executive director of the environmental non-profit Sightline Institute, wanted to unload some of that [eco-]guilt when he embarked on a year of living car-lessly (and he continues to live that way, five months after his experiment ended). Despite being free of four wheels, he and his family worked in a few vacations, his favorite being a week spent…without traveling at all. Rather than taking a train or renting a car, they stayed at home and became tourists in their hometown of Seattle.

‘The rules were that we were on vacation, so no chores and none of the home improvement projects that usually take up our time off,’ he says. They picked a different neighborhood each day of the week, hitting parks and museums and eating at new restaurants. They even discovered a nearby museum they’d never visited that, at the time, was hosting a Maya Lin exhibit; the excursion was a vacation highlight for his kids. ‘It turned out to be really cool,’ he says. Aside from the obvious benefits—time with his family, more money to spend on fun things to do, very few greenhouse gas emissions—there was one other.  ‘We didn’t have to pack,’ he jokes."

Still not ready to ditch the idea of the road trip? The Green Guide offers tips for going on the road:

Travel close to home. The less you drive, the easier your trip is on the environment. Instead, take an alternative form of transportation, like a train or a bus.

Increase your fuel efficiency on the road. Inflate your tires and drive at a leisurely pace. Reducing your speed to 55 mph from 65 mph may increase your fuel efficiency by as much as 15 percent; cut it to 55 from 70, and you could get a 23 percent improvement.

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

Rent a hybrid. If your trip requires flying, or driving a long distance, rent a hybrid. Hertz recently started renting fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars including Toyota Priuses at major metropolitan airports, and for inner city driving, check out car shares. Zipcar, available in bigger cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C., provides hybrids on a per-hour basis.

Get to know the country through the window of a train. If you’re really intent on taking a big vacation, consider splurging on an Amtrak North America Rail Pass ($999 peak/$709 off-peak). The pass allows you to travel to over 900 cities in both the U.S. and Canada for 30 consecutive days with unlimited rides and stopovers.

Check out more road trip tips from the Green Guide here.

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet