The holiday season is hectic and stressful for many, but the aspect that often gets consumed by other activities is the fact that we get a few days off of work. In light of vacation and travel I decided to interview a close source of wisdom- my sister, TV show host, and Natural Living Expert, Sara Snow. First, Sara and I talked about the importance of taking a break from the daily grind, then she gave us a few tips on traveling lightly and with intension.
Sara, why is it so important to rest and disconnect?
“Life is about balance, and I know first hand that life can be extremely busy. Sometimes you have to be able to react and work at that busy pace. In order to do that and avoid burnout you must take time to relax. For me, I can have eight extremely busy days on the road, but then it has to be followed by a few days of rest at home or somewhere else.”
What is the importance in getting away?
“Even when I’m at home, my computer and my files are calling to me. I know that many others experience the same whether it be a home office, or the family with the kid’s school work and the dog who needs a walk… Getting away allows you to disconnect and instead connect with the people and things you take along.”
If one can’t get away for a short vacation, how would you advise others to disconnect while at home?
“To vacation at home hide your computer, turn off the television, and vary up your eating habits. Eat breakfast a little later, try something different for lunch, and plan a dinner menu that is reminiscent of where you wish your feet were standing. Travel like a tourist in your own city, forgo the car and take the bus, your bike, or even a cab and go somewhere you’ve never been.”
Finally, to help you set some guidelines for eco-travel in 2008 or if you still have the opportunity to travel in 2007 (even if you are in the middle of your trip), here are Sara Snow’s Top 10 tips on how to travel lightly and with intension:
1. Avoid layovers to conserve energy. Takeoffs and landings burn more fuel than cruising (as much as 25 percent of the energy used on short trips) so choosing a direct flight is the most earth friendly. For trips under 600 miles, consider a train.
2. Skip the rental car. Cars release a pound of CO2 for every mile driven. Whether on vacation or at home, if you can avoid driving just 20 miles a week and you’ll eliminate about 1000 pounds of CO2 emissions over the course of a year. (Eighty trees would absorb the same amount.) So, take the bus, subway, or any other form of public transportation and you won’t be solely responsible for those CO2 emissions.
3. Pack a refillable bottle. We’re tempted to go through a lot of disposable plastic water bottles when we travel. But, consider the fact that more than 60 million plastic water bottles are pitched every day, contributing over 1000 tons of harmful CO2 emissions and you might be willing to rethink. For the most part, tap water is more closely monitored than bottled water in terms of harmful contaminates. So embrace the tap and refill your non-leaching plastic, glass or metal canteen before you leave your hotel room each day. Remember, with the new liquid rules for air travel, you’ll have to travel with your bottle empty, but you can fill it as soon as you’ve breezed through security.
4. Invest in a few reusable bags and carry them wherever you go. American’s use 84 billion plastic bags a year (close to a trillion are used worldwide). Plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a non-renewable petroleum product, while paper bags waste virgin trees. And I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t grocery shop on vacation so I’m not using many plastic bags,” but… you still shop. So find a small cloth bag and wad it up so you can carry it with you every time you hit the market or the sandal shop.
5. Choose local foods. Embrace the local culture by enjoying indigenous foods and by doing so you’ll cut down on CO2 emissions (from trucks, boats and planes) generated from shipping your food in. The average food in America travels 1500 miles to get to your plate, wasting freshness, nutrients and petroleum. So find the local market when you travel or select local items at the grocery store.
6. Re-think take-out. Ask them not to pack extra napkins and individual sized packets of soy sauce or ketchup for you unless you’re really going to eat/use them. And try traveling with a set of chopsticks. You’ll be amazed how many foods you can eat with them, thereby eliminating the need for all those plastic knives, forks and spoons.
7. Turn down the air in your hotel room, even just one degree can save 3% in energy costs. Try to keep it below 72 in the winter and above 70 in the summer. And be sure to adjust the temperature when you leave your room in the morning.
8. Say “no thank you” to housekeeping. You don’t wash your sheets and towels every day when you’re at home so why should you on vacation. Take that “do not disturb” hang tag and place it on your door when you leave during the day. The housekeeping staff will thank you for the time they’ll save as well as the energy from not running the vacuum or washing your sheets.
9. Bring your own shower supplies. Individual size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc., can be packaging hogs. So bring your own and avoid using the daily dose sizes that come stocked in most hotel rooms.
10. Vacation with intention. Before you hit the road decide the purpose of this trip. Is it to open your mind to new experiences and cultures? Then bring a journal and record your thoughts and reactions. Is it to relax and recharge? Then bring a good book and little else. Is it to connect with a friend, lover or family member? Then spend time with that person free from everyday distractions like laptops and tvs. Bottom line, pick a purpose for your vacation and move through the days with intention. You’re more likely to come out well rested and well rounded on the other side.