This post is in partnership with Samsonsite but all opinions are my own.
Traveling has been an important part of my life since I was in college, and while both my husband and I worried that we’d have to stop once we had kids, we’ve managed to continue to take trips with our babes several times a year. In fact, both of our kids (now 4 and 2) have been traveling with us – by car and by plane – since they were newborns. That said, traveling with little ones is quite different than traveling on your own (just ask my husband, who works for a band and flies at least twice a week, about the stark contrasts between when he travels for work and with our family!). One difference I’ve consistently noticed is how much more challenging it is to make eco-conscious choices when traveling with kids. When you’ve got children with you (especially little ones), there are more messes, more requests for quick food, more stops, more garbage, and just general excess that ultimately isn’t very good for the earth. When we flew to California a few weeks ago, we really made an effort to make the trip more eco-friendly. And it worked. As we near the end of Earth Month, I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of my tips in hopes that it will help those of you with little ones who would like to make your travel more earth conscious as well.
1. Take reusable water bottles. It’s no secret that disposable water bottles are terrible for the environment, but they’re everywhere, and when you’re traveling with kids, they’re admittedly quite convenient. We always bring one of our own reusable bottles for each of us though, whether we’re driving or flying. We fill them up in the drinking fountains at the airport, and if we’re traveling by car, we either fill them at stops along the way or bring a big water jug along with us.
2. Pack snacks from home. We fill reusable containers with snacks for both air and land travel, and for road trips we also bring fruit and sandwiches we make at home. The packaging alone from airport snack shops and/or fast food restaurants is incredible wasteful, and you’ll say some money too.
3. Bring a stroller. Obviously this will only work with little ones, but the great thing about strollers (especially double strollers, like we have) is that you can walk farther and longer than if you’re trying to go on foot with toddlers or preschoolers. And walking is always the best mode of transportation to explore your destination when you’re trying to be eco-conscious. If you have a baby or toddler, a carrier or sling works too. And along the same lines, if your kids are old enough, you can rent (or bring) bicycles as a family and get around that way.
4. Choose eco-friendly luggage. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve been listening to me rave about our Samsonite ECO-Nu suitcase (we have the 25″ Expandable Spinner in Granite/Midnight Black) for over a month, and for good reason. This is hands down the best piece of luggage I’ve ever owned, and it’s perfect for trips with kids because it’s super lightweight but, thanks to its big pockets and Hidden-Expansion System (which keeps the expansion zipper discreetly tucked beneath the main zipper), fits a seriously impressive amount of stuff. It’s also incredibly easy to transport (which any of you with kids know is key for travel when you’re trying to wrangle a million things at once), thanks to its awesome four wheel Saguro Wheel System. Best of all though, its fabric, including the lining, is made completely from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. All of it. Bottles are melted down into a liquid polymer, then purified into filament yarn, and finally woven into the high quality, durable fabric that is used to make the ECO-Nu. How cool is that? Our Samsonite ECO-Nu has also been a great way to teach our kids the importance of making green choices when purchases travel supplies. I really love how the line is so clearly designed with both the traveler (whether with kids or alone) and the earth in mind. In fact, we’ve already decided that once the other pieces of luggage we own are no longer usable, we’ll be replacing all of them with ECO-Nu pieces.
5. Turn off the lights and down the thermostat. We are so good about this at home, but I’ve noticed that when we stay at hotels, we are more forgetful about doing these things when we get out. We’ve started to make it a game with the kids, where whoever remembers to turn out the lights and down the thermostat first is the winner. It’s actually a great way to get them in the habit of doing it wherever they are. (Bonus hotel tip: reuse linens and don’t request the sheets to be washed nightly.)
6. Visit natural places. Sure, my kids love loud, fancy mega kiddie/family fun center type places, but they honestly love forest preserves and state/national parks (which are infinitely less wasteful) just as much (if not more). We took my daughter to the Grand Canyon when she was 16 months old and she still regularly asks to see pictures from it! Even if we’re just taking a day trip to another town, we get outside and explore nature and other unique characteristics of where we are. It’s amazing what you can find and all of the ways you can teach your kids about the environment that way. (The fox sculpture you see in some of these photos was made entirely from recycled bicycles. So cool!) I remember reading that people tend to care more about issues if they have personal connection to them, so this is an ideal way to encourage your little ones to care about the earth from an early age.
7. Choose local. Shop locally. Eat locally (especially at places like farmer’s market and food trucks, or farm-to-table and/or organic restaurants). On top of the fact that choosing local is almost always better for the environment because the carbon emissions are much less than products that have to travel far to reach you, your kids will be excited to visit places that are different than familiar chains or that they’re used to frequenting at home.
8. Camp. Full disclosure: we have not yet been camping with our kids, so I can’t say this is a tip I have tried myself. But so many of our friends with older children have camped with them and absolutely loved it, and we’re looking forward to our first family camping experience this summer. Camping uses less energy and less water, and it’s an incredible way to help your kids connect with and develop a respect for the earth.
These are all simple, easy ways that can add up to truly make an impact on the state of the earth. If you have any ways that you make travel with kids more eco-friendly, I’d love to hear them!