- Tip #1: Put your bag on a diet
The more weight those planes, trains, and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use. Do your part to cut emissions by sporting a streamlined suitcase. Packing early will give you time to weed out unnecessary items. Check with your host or hotel to find out if appliances such as hairdryers will be available. Coordinate with your traveling companions to avoid doubling up on items that can be shared, such as toothpaste or shampoo. Find more tips for smart packing from onebag.com.
- Tip # 2: Plan your transit
Chances are, there's more than one way to reach your destination. Trains are a great option for traveling long distances at a leisurely pace. If you're planning to drive, try renting a hybrid or carpooling. If you must fly, consider buying offsets for your emissions. Coordinate your arrival time with other relatives to minimize the number of trips from the airport to Grandma's house.
- Tip #3: Turn to the tap
You can chalk it up to homesickness if the tap water in your relatives' city doesn't taste as sweet as the water where you live, but don't fall prey to the bottle. In the United States, city tap water must undergo more-strenuous testing than bottled water, so it's generally safe to drink local water. Refilling a reusable container at the faucet also reduces your carbon footprint: The production and transportation of U.S. bottled water uses the equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil annually.
- Tip # 4: Hang it up
The celebratory atmosphere of the holidays can test the best kept habits (another slice of pumpkin pie, anyone?). A little indulgence is natural, but if you wouldn't normally waste water and energy to wash a towel that's only been used once, don't break that rule just because you're staying in a hotel. Many hotels won't wash towels that are hanging neatly on the rack, but it's wise to find out before you check in. The Green Hotels Association recommends giving each family member a safety pin with a different colored bead, then attaching them to the towels to tell them apart.