It’s about that time again: the sun is shining, the beach beckons, and school’s out.  That must mean it’s time to plan your family vacation!

Vacationing can be… let’s say resource intensive.  There’s the money you spend on gas and hotel stays and souvenirs.  There’s the diet that falls by the wayside when you’re eating out for every meal – and the extra pounds you can expect to put on.  And let’s not ignore that travelling often means drinking out of plastic bottles, burning fuel, and engaging in other behaviors that will break our conservation trends we follow the rest of the year.

The alternative?  Do a little advance planning to keep your vacation water-wise.

For example, let’s tackle the whole bottled-water thing.  If you’re road-tripping, you don’t always have ready access to a tap or a water faucet, which usually means you have to rely on bottled drinks to keep yourself hydrated.  That said, there’s nothing preventing you from bringing a re-usable bottle from home and re-filling with tap water or fountain drinks, saving you about half a liter per refill. 

Haven’t selected a destination yet?  Some green-thinking cities will help you easily conserve without adding one more worry to your down-time.  If your destination isn’t on this list, look for hotels that will allow you to re-use towels between washes.

Then there’s what you do during your trip.  Most major cities have extensive public transit systems that will get you to their main tourist destinations – not only do you save on gas, but you also avoid the hassle of navigating and parking in an unfamiliar town.  More and more destinations also offer municipal bike rentals.  And let’s not forget the simple pleasures of a nice, long walk.

Finally, let’s talk your travel plans.  Cruise ships might sound like a lot of fun, but their carbon footprint is virtually unregulated when they’re in international waters.  Better just stick to road trips and flights.

Finally, the particularly eco-conscious traveler might want to consider ecotourism.  It may not be the same as sipping a tropical drink in a four-star resort, but studies show that altruism leads to more long-term positive feelings, meaning a week spent cultivating native plants in a distant forest may benefit you more than a more traditional rest & relaxation retreat anyway.

How do you like to live green on vacation?