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Four Ways to Plan an Eco-Friendly Trip

Four Ways to Plan an Eco-Friendly Trip

Go easy on the environment—and benefit the places you visit—with these smart travel tactics

Our 2022 California Road Trips guide features 8 new travel itineraries and a dedication section about how to explore the Golden State in an eco-friendly fashion. Find this story—and other helpful information and inspiring tips—in the guide, which is available to order for free.

1) Embrace “slow travel.”

Slow travel (aka mindful travel) is an approach that emphasizes connecting to local people, environment, and culture. Traveling this way makes a vacation more meaningful, and it’s good for the places we visit. Think of it as traveling deeply rather than widely. Drop the rigid bucket list and stop trying to score the most Insta-worthy shots. Stay longer at a single destination rather than rushing around to cover ground. You’ll have more time to immerse yourself in local culture and nature, and you’ll develop a deeper appreciation and respect for the region.

Adopting a slow-travel mindset naturally leads to a lower-impact visit. When done right, your vacation could actually help to protect the place you’re visiting.  

2) Choose eco-conscious accommodations.

Search out hotels that have been designed, constructed, or renovated using eco-friendly techniques, or lodgings that commit to green practices like conserving water or reducing waste. Eco-friendly accommodations are often certified by an independent third party like LEED, Green Seal, Green Key, or Energy Star. California has hundreds of eco-friendly hotels, including SCP Seven4One Hotel in Laguna Beach, Mendocino’s Stanford Inn by the Sea, San Diego’s Hotel Indigo, Healdsburg’s h2hotel (pictured above), and San Francisco’s Orchard Garden Hotel.

3) Drive greener.

Consider renting a hybrid or electric vehicle. Most major car rental companies off er eco-conscious vehicle options, and since 2021, Hertz is leading the pack in electric vehicles. They’re adding 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans to their rental fleet; many of them are already on the road. Driving an electric car reduces carbon dioxide emissions—find charging stations at chargehub.com.

4) Pledge to be a good visitor.

We all want to be conscientious visitors, but sometimes we don’t know how. That’s why we launched the California Responsible Travel Code, which encourages visitors to help protect the state’s natural resources and local culture. 

Destinations like Big Sur, Truckee, Lake Tahoe, and Sonoma County have their own visitor codes or pledges on their websites. Common themes include “leave no trace,” “stay on marked trails,” and “spread kindness.”  Before your trip, gather your travel companions together and commit to a visitor pledge. If you’re road-tripping with kids, designate them as pledge monitors. They’ll make sure everyone in the car honors their commitment to a sustainable vacation.

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