Giving Thanks for Sustainable Travel

Sustainable travel isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when most people prepare for the madness of Thanksgiving. Usually, extra cream for mashed potatoes and stealing Aunt Ida’s pumpkin pie recipe beat take priority to thoughts of sustainable living, let alone sustainable travel. But why not make this a sustainable Thanksgiving? By keeping a few extra things in mind, you can uphold the principles of sustainable travel so that, hopefully, your belt will continue to uphold your pants after dinner.

Even though the holiday is historically linked to pausing to give thanks for our many blessings in life, Thanksgiving has morphed into this holiday of chaos, and that chaos usually begins with transportation. Due to continued low fuel prices and glimmers of hope in economic news, travel agencies are expecting sizable travel increase this year. Air travel is predicted to increase around 3.5%, which is about 24 million people. Honor sustainable travel best practices by aiming to fly on a fuller flight. Of course most people prefer to have space to spread out in narrow airplanes, but ‘tis the season for getting to know your fellow Thanksgiving traveler. Swap Thanksgiving memories with the person you’re stuck rubbing elbows with for the duration of the flight. Pack your trusty MP3 player to drown out the banter if you’d rather keep your Thanksgiving memories to yourself. Regardless of how you cope with a full flight, aim to fly on a full flight. The more full flights in air, the fewer airplanes left to leave their large carbon footprint behind.

AAA is also expecting an 11.4% increase in holiday driving this year. An expected 42.2 million travelers will make a trip at least 50 miles away from home, which is an increase of 4.3 million travelers from 2009. With so many travelers logging miles on the highways, why not include trusty sustainable travel principles by agreeing to car pool? If everyone is headed to Grandma’s house for an evening of gratitude and gluttony, why not pick up Aunt Ida on your way to Grandma’s house? Not only are you saving the environment from one more vehicle’s toxic fumes, but you just might score that coveted pumpkin pie recipe after all.

Another important way to add a cup of sustainable travel to your Thanksgiving recipe is to volunteer. Before rolling out the red pales and ringing bells outside your neighborhood grocery store (that we all love, of course), the Salvation Army feeds thousands of hungry and less fortunate people around the country. By donating cans of delicious food you would want someone else to enjoy, another person will be able to create his or her own Thanksgiving memory. By donating your time helping to serve warm- cooked meals or helping to keep the kitchen stocked and flowing, you too are helping to create a Thanksgiving memory.

Make this Thanksgiving a sustainable thanksgiving by doing your part to impact the environment as little as possible, and by impacting your community as much as possible.

Photo Credit: Obama-Biden Transition Project