Late-season travel can be great for individuals and families looking to avoid crowds and higher prices. While it is certainly more enjoyable for some to get out and explore when the temperatures are warmer or more moderate, traveling when it is a bit cooler can offer you a new perspective. You may find that it is even more relaxing without so many other guests and tourists around.
That said, sometimes social accountability goes a long way. Without the crowds and the buzz, there might be less trash on the beach. Conversely for some, it’s easier to shamelessly leave your trash wherever you may be. Rather than jump at the opportunity to pitch your junk, late-season travel can serve as a great opportunity to pitch a tent without leaving more than footprints in the mud. There are many ways that seasonal travel can become sustainable travel.
While this may come as a surprise, one of the best options for late-season getaway is camping. Not only can you really escape during a late fall-winter camping trip, but it is also a much more sustainable travel option for those looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact.
Sustainability doesn’t always have to be a significant lifestyle change that hinders your comfort or convenience. Sometimes, it’s as easy as choosing where you want to spend your vacation! Traveling is, unfortunately, one of the worst activities you can commit against the environment with its significant carbon footprint. And yet, it shouldn’t be a crime to want to see more of the world.
Thankfully, there are plenty of smart, sustainable vacation choices available that allow travel-lovers to see the world and unwind without the guilt of a massive carbon footprint.
Take lodging, for example. Mindfully choosing a place to stay can help reduce the footprint that comes with traveling and tourism. There are certified eco-resorts that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility by offering eco-friendly toiletries, natural building materials, and more. From the Post Ranch Inn in California to the Habitat Suites in Texas, learn more about eco-lodges with this graphic.
Tips For Sustainable Late-Season Camping
Camping during the late fall and winter months might sound like a frigid idea, but if you go into it prepared, it can actually be quite enjoyable. Late-season camping is often preferable by many who hate waking up in hot, steamy tents. While camping during the winter can be cold, as long as you have a fire and dress in layers, you will likely be cozy and comfortable.
Camping during the winter also means you have more options available as fewer sites will be booked up. You can get some of the best spots with amazing, peaceful views later in the season. There are also fewer bugs to worry about and the prices are often much lower.
As long as you dress and pack appropriately for winter camping, you’ll be sure to have a good time. However, it’s just as important to camp sustainably this time of year and avoid leaving things behind. It’s easier to forget about cleaning up when there aren’t as many people around to hold you accountable, but you should remain eco-conscious no matter when or where you set up camp.
1. Fire is Your Friend
When camping late season, having enough materials to keep a fire burning during your entire stay is crucial. If you want to avoid frozen toes, make sure you pack enough wood. It’s also important to avoid burning products that can be bad for the atmosphere, such as lighter fluids with noxious fumes, paper that can release toxins, and even wood that has been treated. Always use the most natural materials you can when starting your fire.
2. Pack Light
Late-season camping is also ideal because you don’t need to pack as many clothes or sanitary items. You won’t sweat as much when camping during the winter, so there’s no need for multiple outfits or toiletry items to stay clean. Still, you will need to pack some essentials, but just remember to use products that reduce waste and consumption and aren’t harmful to nature, such as biodegradable soaps and reusable or recyclable cookware and utensils.
3. Minimize Waste and Clean Up
One great way to avoid overpacking and to cut down on wasteful packaging is to buy from local food markets closer to your destination. If you buy as many local and fresh products as possible, it is better for the economy and the environment. It also means you will have less packaging and garbage to clean up when you clear out.
If there is any garbage or personal waste items leftover when you are heading out, make sure to pack everything up in garbage bags and take it with you. One of the worst things for the environment is campers that leave waste behind. It’s also a good idea to clean your gear when you get home. Winter camping can be harsher on your gear with the snow and mud — just make sure you use sustainable cleaning products.
Additional Sustainable Travel Tips
Of course, camping is not the only late-season travel option. There are plenty of other destinations that are ideal for traveling in the winter. Below are some of the top tips for keeping your vacation as sustainable as possible:
- Do everything online: Digital is key to reducing your environmental impact. Avoid processes that involve too much paperwork. Instead, opt for online bookings, digital email confirmations and itineraries, and digital tickets on your phone.
- Avoid unnecessary energy consumption in your home: Before leaving your home, make sure as many things are turned off as possible to avoid unnecessary use of energy. Turn down the thermostat, insulate your pipes, insulate windows and doors, turn off all lights or put them on timers, unplug appliances and electronics, and shut the water off.
- Choose sustainable travel accommodations: Try looking for hotels and other lodgings that are green certified or that at least talk about their sustainability and conservation efforts. The hotel industry is a massive contributor to carbon emissions, but some are much better than others at reducing their environmental impact.
- Eat local: Avoid chain restaurants or big fancy restaurants in general. Dining at smaller, local establishments helps put money back into the local economy, but it is also better for the environment. Local food doesn’t use as much packaging or require as many resources to be transported.
- Walk as much as possible: If your destinations are not that far from your accommodations, try walking instead of renting a car or hiring a taxi or rideshare service. Transportation is also a considerable contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Walking or biking is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and it offers you a more personal and intimate perspective of the local area you are visiting.
- Reuse towels: Laundry services in hotels also use a lot of energy and resources. If you don’t wash your towels every day at home, then why ask for clean towels every day while on vacation? Try using the same towels for as long as possible during your stay.
Summarizing Sustainable Travel
The travel industry as a whole has a significant effect on the environment, but if more people were more conscious about their travel habits, it could have more positive results than negative. Camping and local travel is the best way to reduce your impact. If you are going to travel farther, then there are lots of ways you can make changes to reduce your use of resources and waste consumption.
Infographic by Say Insurance
Last Updated: 9/12/2022
Indiana Lee lives in the Pacific Northwest and has a passion for the environment and wellness. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Indiana has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3.