Vacations Close to Home Save Money, Environment

by Nadia Smith
Contributing Writer

With a strained economic situation and gas prices on the rise again, vacation travel may not be the first thing on students’ minds as they prepare for summer. Still, before starting your summer jobs, internships or classes, here are some inexpensive and eco-friendly travel options to consider.

For those staying close to Transylvania this summer, there are many different travel options and sights to see in and around Kentucky. The state boasts some of the country’s best state parks. Local favorites include Natural Bridge, Red River Gorge and Mammoth Cave. Each site is within a few hours of Lexington and has opportunities for activities such as camping, hiking, rock climbing and spelunking.

Carpool with a few friends, pack a few supplies and you can have an inexpensive excursion into some of Kentucky’s natural beauty.

Sophomore Jessica Broughton said, “Hart County is a good area. It has Mammoth Cave, Hidden River Cave and Kentucky Down Under.”

If you’re more adventurous, and with some extra planning, Chemistry Professor Eva Csuhai said a good way to spend the summer would be to walk the Appalachian Trail or Sheltowee Trace or perhaps to bike along Blue Ridge Parkway or around the Smoky Mountains National Park.

“When done right, all of these are really good at creating community and memorable experiences with friends, and the actual seeing of new places is just a nice bonus,” Csuhai said.

If you are interested in giving back to the community and having a great vacation at the same time, consider “voluntourism.” One program that is recommended by Karen Anderson, Coordinator of Community Service and Civic Engagement, is Passport in Time (PIT). The program is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and invites volunteers to participate in archaeology and historic preservation with professional historians and archeologists. Participants must apply and pay their own way, but Anderson said it was well worth the experience.

“I met people from all walks of life, all ages—couples, singles, adults with children…auto workers, college professors, retired folks – we all came together for the adventure,” Anderson said. “We were up by 8 am, had breakfast together (everyone brought some food to contribute or paid money to the leader to cover groceries). We went to the work sites, got our instruction and began working…. At night we had dinner together and sat around talking.”

During her voluntourism trip Anderson said she and her group were able to survey several areas and found many artifacts, making the trip that much more exciting.

Probably the most inexpensive as well as eco-friendly option would be to not travel at all. Csuhai suggested taking walks and riding a bike locally.

“Not many people seem to do this, but Lexington is a great place for urban hikes of any length. Walks between 0.5 miles and 16 miles can be had, let’s say, using the quadrant of town south of Transy, between Broadway and Richmond Road. That is a lot of area, and almost wherever you end up, the bus can take you back in a half hour or so.”

She added,“Pack a day pack, have sturdy shoes and keep your eyes open to cover as many wooded areas as possible and parks with public restroom facilities. Do not be afraid of trampling on people’s lawns where there are no sidewalks.”

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