Want to explore the earth but not damage the earth? Research ways to travel responsibly with the lowest amount of impact on the environment…and maybe even give back along the way. Here are some resources and tips that can help.
Eco Traveling is a good site to explore with the motto that ‘Sensible Travel Can Save the Environment.’
Of the many important steps to consider, try staying in eco hotels, which use non-toxic cleaners, locally sourced food, renewable energy and recycled products. Eco Hotels of The World is a large independent database of the world’s eco lodgings. Search for accommodations by destination. For example, in New Zealand, the Conservation Park Tui Nature Reserve has a five green star rating, running on solar power only and collecting rainwater in a holding tank for its water supply.
When deciding the method of transportation, plane travel may be the fastest and most convenient, but consider other options if possible, such as train and going by sea. If flight is the only option, offset the environmental impact at terrapass by calculating the carbon footprint of the flight. For example, a roundtrip flight from Los Angeles, CA to London, U.K. for two people requires the offset of 7,000lbs of CO2, which is $41.65. In addition to offsetting, consider the eco-credentials of the airline. Try to find out about the airline’s written environmental policy including what steps they take to offset their impact and how they recycle. Virgin Atlantic airlines, for example, has outlined 15 steps they are taking in an attempt at sustainability from increasing fuel efficiency to serving only fair-trade coffee and tea. Minimizing the amount of flight changes can help, as non-stop flights have less impact. The flight example above from Los Angeles to London with one stop increases the carbon impact by about 30%.
Volunteer Eco Adventures
The world of ecotourism is growing, and there are many resources available online to discover. Suite101.com has compiled suggestions for eco adventures and ‘Spring break travel destinations with a cause’. For example, explore an idyllic island volunteering for the Great Marine Project. Survey reefs to help protect nesting turtles while staying at an eco resort. Explore eco adventure opportunities in Hawaii at bigisland.org such as trail building while exploring the rainforests. Travel To Learn programs are for high school and college students interested in volunteering, becoming immersed in a new language and culture, and having eco adventures. Travel to Nicaragua and Mexico visiting volcanoes, learning Spanish, and volunteering with locals in the community.
Explore the growing wealth of ecotourism options and begin to look at travel in a new and exciting light. Search destinations at gap adventures and look for eco options in your area of choice.