It’s relatively simple to live sustainably from the comfort of your home. Small efforts such as turning off the lights, conserving water, and composting in your backyard can make a big difference. However, when it comes to vacations, practicing sustainability isn’t always the easiest option, and what exactly is sustainable travel anyway?
Sustainable travel isn’t just about the environmental impact. It includes the current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts while addressing visitors’ needs, the tourism industry, the environment, and host communities.
Here are some tips on how to travel sustainably to the following destinations:
Traveling sustainably is easy in Boston, thanks to how bike-friendly the city is. In 2009, Boston added a bike-share program, Bluebikes, and has been expanding its growing bike lane network ever since. Bike through the beautiful Boston Common, stop for a bite to eat at Faneuil Hall Marketplace or ride to the pier to see the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship. When you travel on bikes or use the city’s bus and train networks, you conserve energy resources and eliminate carbon emissions.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is one of the cleanest cities in the country. According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2023” report, Virginia Beach tied for first place on the cleanest metropolitan area in the country for ozone, meaning it has some of the cleanest air. As you spend a relaxing day on the beach, hike at First Landing State Park and visit the Virginia Aquarium, it’s important to seek out proper recycling and trash bins when you have something to dispose of. Take it one step further by limiting your plastic use and bringing a reusable water bottle with you.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
About a 2-hour drive from the city lights of Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s most famous examples of arid-land erosion. Spanning 277 miles in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a safe haven for rare and specially protected plant and animal species. When you pay entrance fees to visit the Grand Canyon and other national parks, you’re supporting the conservation of the environment and the wildlife that call these parks home.
New York City, New York
A trendsetter of cities, New York City, is known as the country’s restaurant capital and has been making great strides in sustainable restaurants. If you visit NYC, check out Crave Fishbar, New York’s first 100% sustainable seafood restaurant. Before adding a new menu item, the restaurant’s team considers the population of that species, the harvest method and the environmental impact to ensure they are ethically sourcing all items. Another excellent choice for responsibly eating is at Print, a farm-to-table kitchen where 80% of its food comes directly from local farms.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco was the first city in the country to ban plastic bags in 2007, and in 2010, the law was amended to include a fee on all paper and plastic bags. Plastic bags are costly to recycle and most end up in landfills where they take around 1,000 years to break down. Once they do break down, it’s into tiny, toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways. When you’re enjoying the sights and sounds of San Francisco, bring a reusable shopping bag with you to help the environment and save money. Be sure to visit Haight Street, full of unique novelty shops, vintage outlets and urban clothing boutiques.
For tourists who really want to unplug, Denver is the perfect place to go and limit your electricity and energy usage. Activities like camping, fishing, kayaking, and skiing allow you to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving a large carbon footprint on the environment. Due to Colorado’s high altitude, skiing season runs from late November to mid-April. The rest of the year will be better weather for camping and non-snow activities.
Remember, even when you travel, numerous opportunities exist to be sustainable and contribute to the local economy, society, and environment. To read about Adopt a Highway Maintenance Corporation’s commitment to sustainability, visit https://adoptahighway.com/sustainability/.
Center for Biological Diversity. “10 Facts about Single-Use Plastic Bags.” Center for Biological Diversity, 2023.
State of the Air 2023. “Report Cards.” American Lung Association, 2023.
Sustainable Travel International. “Travel Better.” Sustainable Travel International, 2020.