Friday, January 05, 2018

Top 6 Vacations Spots to Take a Breath of Fresh Air

(In the middle of this challenging stretch of weather, we thought a story about a clean-air getaway might just be the thing.  Emily Folk has some excellent ideas below.  And before you go, whoa! -- some of these places sound cold, just note that it is warmer today in Iceland, Sweden and Ireland than it is in Washington, D.C.)

Imagine you're preparing yourself for the vacation of a lifetime. You readily pack a week's worth of your favorite outfits into your suitcase, load up your car, and get ready to hit the road as you excitedly make your way to the airport. You board the plane and after a few hours of relaxed travel make your way toward the exit door. You take your first few steps into this new land, stretch out your arms and take in a deep breath of fresh air.

Except, the air isn't quite so fresh after all. Your eyes begin to water, you feel an itchiness in your throat, and you have the unrelenting urge to cough — this is not what had you planned for.

Whether you’re traveling within the country or merely want to escape to a new land, your number priority should always be maintaining your health and wellbeing while you’re away. Journeying to another state or country is a time to explore and engage your senses to the fullest extent — smell included.

Why Air Quality Matters

You may be wondering how important choosing a location based on air quality is. You might only be gone for a few days at most, so what's the big deal?
Breathing in polluted air is more than just an unwanted annoyance. In fact, it can drastically impact your health and create a range of health issues during your stay. Even short-term exposure to air pollution can cause immediate health problems, ranging from fatigue and dry throat to more complicated side-effects such as respiratory illness.
Fresh air is essential for a replenished and energized body. Still not convinced? A research study conducted by the World Bank and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation proved that air pollution is amongst one of the top four causes of premature death across the globe. Without access to clean and fresh oxygen, air pollution accumulates into a myriad of issues that can afflict even the healthiest of individuals.

When trying to get a clean air getaway, it would be more beneficial to consider a longer term vacation rather than just a weekend getaway. Not sure which air is the freshest? Be sure to check out our list of the top six clean air destinations below.
1. New Zealand

It's no surprise that humans create the most pollution — which makes escaping to New Zealand the perfect chance to refuel with the country's surrounding pure and clean air. The entire nation boasts a mere four million inhabitants, which contains roughly the same population as Los Angeles alone. With a low population and fewer chances for contaminants, New Zealand boasts one of the cleanest environments in the world. 
2. Iceland

Iceland may be named after water, but it deserves recognition for its beautiful display of Earth's other elements, too. The air quality in Iceland is amongst the cleanest in the world due to its low population density and vast green hills. Iceland also boasts the use of renewable energy sources and prioritizes hydropower and geothermal energy over the use of fossil fuels. 

3. Hawaii

With its pure blue oceans and relaxed atmosphere, it’s no wonder Hawaii earns a top spot on everyone’s dream vacation list. The state’s capital, Honolulu, means “place of shelter” — a title the entire land upholds with pride. Although this treasured island is a part of the United States, it's out of reach of the nation's mainland and is resultingly untainted by the burning coal and contaminated air emissions generated by other U.S. states.

4. Sweden

What happens when you eliminate unnecessary driving, offer comprehensive transportation systems, and foster cycling instead? You get Sweden — one of the greenest countries in the world. Sweden strongly advocates the importance of clean air and strives to eliminate the use of fossil fuels entirely within the next several decades. 
5. Ireland

A quick search of Ireland is almost always guaranteed to generate pictures of gorgeous rolling hills and endless foliage. The presence of greenery isn't the only aspect of Ireland's geography helping its air remain clean. The country's robust winds and surrounding expansive sea filter out polluted air, allowing residents to breathe Ireland's air with confidence. The country's capital, Dublin, introduced a ban on coal in the early 90s which has drastically improved the area's air quality, too.

6. Canada
Want to travel to the country with the cleanest city in the world? Then book your next flight to Canada. Not only is the air unpolluted in Calgary, Canada's cleanest city, but the entire city boasts a fresh and sparkling environment as well. The whole state of Alberta commits to using renewable energy to provide higher levels of sustainability. In fact, the country as a whole is known for its environmental awareness, which makes Canada the ideal spot for a clean and fresh getaway.

Planning a getaway shouldn’t be synonymous with a lung full of unbreathable air. Whether your trip consists of a weekend excursion or you plan to vacation for longer durations of time, make sure you can relax properly with a breath full of fresh air.

Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger, covering topics in conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. To see her latest posts, check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter!

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