Six Green Vacation Tips

Editor’s Note:  Costa Rica is probably the most inherently green vacation you could ever take.  Costa Rica derives 97% of its energy from renewable resources; has the highest percentage of land preserved by the government; and is fully committed to organic farming. E-mail us at organicproperties@gmail.com in San Ramon to learn more about green travel, organic farming, and Costa Rica tours with organic farming experts.

By Kastle Waserman

Planning a summer vacation or short getaway? Be sure to consider your carbon impact and look into ways you can green your travel plans. Here are six quick ideas to give both yourself and the planet a break:

How you get there

Air travel is the most carbon-producing way to travel, so avoid it if possible. If you plan to hit the road and don’t currently have a fuel-efficient car, consider renting one. Or try taking a train and enjoy the journey as well as a destination.

Search companies renting fuel-efficient cars.

Where you stay

More and more hotels are going green. Conserving water through towel and linen reuse programs, installing Energy Star appliances, using low-flow toilets and carbon florescent bulbs,  composting leftovers, and planting native plants in landscaping are just a few of the sustainable practices to look for. Read up on the hotel’s website to see what it is re doing to make your stay an eco-friendly one.

Search for green hotels.

How you get around town

Pick a destination with a good public transit system. If you must take a taxi, check ahead and jot down the number for one that uses hybrid vehicles. Renting a bike and walking are the best ways to really get to know a new place and be eco-friendly (bonus: you’ll get some exercise so you won’t feel guilty about any dining treats!).

Search for green taxis.

Search “bike rental” on Yahoo! Local for your destination.

Staycations

How about staying close to home this summer? Cozy up in a nice (green) hotel to enjoy the amenities and forget about daily chores waiting in your own house. Skim an online travel guide, take public transit for new views, and be a tourist in your own backyard.

Search Yahoo! Travel for activities in your hometown.

Search for online travel guides,

Volunteer vacations

Try something different and make your getaway time a productive way to give back. Look into volunteer vacations.  You may end up in a place you never dreamed of, saving hiking trails, helping with endangered animal conservation, or participating in local education. In some cases, your accommodations and meals will be covered in exchange for your volunteer efforts.

Search for volunteer vacations.

Carbon offsets

If your latest trip still leaves a Sasquatch-size carbon footprint, at least consider relief for the planet though carbon offsets. There are companies that collect contributions to put toward renewable energy.  While there has been some debate about the effectiveness of these programs, you could just as easily donate to your favorite environmental organization. Be sure to see if your employer will pitch in for a match.

Calculate how much you need to offset.

Search for a carbon offset company.

Read up on carbon offsets from Ask Umbra.

With these few, simple considerations, your vacation can truly tread lightly on the places you set out to enjoy and make it a much more restful and peaceful escape — isn’t that what it’s really all about?

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