Green Travel Tips

Planning a vacation this summer? Would you like to minimize your exposure to chemicals and/or mold while enjoying your hotel of choice?

New construction, plug-ins, dryer sheets, new carpeting, and cleaning products all require the use of harsh chemicals. If you want to "go the extra mile" and call ahead to see if the hotel is a fit for you, consider asking these 10 questions before placing your reservation. Most hotels will not be able to answer yes to all of these, but some may be willing to make changes to help you avoid some of those unwanted environmental challenges.
  1. Is your property smoke-free?
  2. Is your property pet-free? Do you offer rooms that are guaranteed pet-free?
  3. Do you use natural cleaning products? Would your cleaning service be willing to clean with white vinegar only?
  4. Are there windows in the room that open easily for ventilation?
  5. Do you offer allergy-friendly rooms with hypoallergenic bedding?
  6. Are towels and linens unscented? Would your staff be willing to eliminate dryer sheets for bedding in our room?
  7. Are there plug-ins on the property? Are there fragrance-free rooms available?
  8. Is there a history of flooding or water damage?
  9. Has the property been sprayed for pesticides recently? How about individual rooms?
  10. Do you have any rooms with brand-new carpeting? How recently have the carpets been cleaned?
Two hotel chains that might be particularly favorable to this list are Hyatt and Fairmont, according to this New York Times article.

My chemically-sensitive daughter traveled to New Mexico recently and requested unscented bedding, and the hotel left out the dryer sheets. They also cleaned with white vinegar. With some ventilation and a diffuser, she did great! Keep in mind, you're the customer—and you never know until you ask!

For more suggestions on low-toxic travel, see the Safer Travel Directory, which is downloadable for a cost of $17.

Interested in practical packing tips? Check out the momsAWARE article, 10 Ways to Use a Plastic Shower Cap.