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Top 10 Green Vacation Ideas

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Awareness of our fragile planet has never been higher, nor has the impulse to take positive steps to reverse its decline.

How can you reconcile that with the desire to take a well-deserved honeymoon, romantic getaway, or annual vacation? Below are 10 green vacation ideas that can make a difference without requiring a huge sacrifice. (So don't worry; I'm not going to tell you to go camping instead of checking into a real hotel!)

1. Use Public Transportation

The Alps
Photo of Swiss train courtesy of Alps Europe.
Trains can be a great way to see parts of a country that roadways don't traverse. And once you arrive at your green vacation destination, take advantage of buses, monorails, ferries, and subways rather than traveling by yourselves in a gas guzzler. Passengers on the highly regarded Swiss Train System can rent bicycles at stations and bring them aboard.

2. Pack Light

(c) Tumi.
Don't bring more luggage than you need on a green vacation. It adds weight to whatever means of transportation you use, requiring more energy, and it also adds weight to the burden you carry.

3. Take a Volunteer Vacation

Volunteer Vacations
(c) Global Volunteers.
Keep your vacation green by doing good while you're away from home. Volunteer vacations enable couples to spend time on worthwhile projects such as helping to construct a holding tank for a community's water supply, building classroom furniture and playground equipment, and installing footbridges that cross local rivers.

4. Book an Eco-Friendly Hotel

© The Tides Riviera Maya.
Put your money where your beliefs are: Support eco-resorts, lodges, and hotels constructed from recycled materials. And don't think you'll have to forgo luxury on a green vacation. At The Tides Riviera Maya, for instance, natural materials are used throughout and no motorized vehicles are allowed on the property.

5. Shoot Digital Shots

Canon A80
Carry a digital camera to take great vacation pictures rather than a disposable one or an old-fashioned SLR that uses film. And use rechargable batteries rather than disposables.

6. Acknowledge that Some Destinations Should be Off-Limits

Galapagos  Rocky
© Carolyn Wells.
Although tourism dollars are critical to many places, there are destinations whose ecosystems are so fragile that the arrival of you and hundreds or thousands of other tourists can create severe, irreversible environmental impacts. Among them: The Galapagos Islands and the Amazonian rainforest.

7. Rent a Smart Car

If you must rent a car on your green vacation, choose a hybrid or a compact model that goes farther on less gas. And drive below the speed limit.

8. Conserve In-Room Energy

Just as when you’re at home, shut off the lights, TV, and air conditioner when you leave your room.

9. Don't Generate Unnecessary Laundry

Must you have your towels and sheets changed every day? The energy and the water required to wash them are wasteful. It's become accepted practice for travelers to leave soiled towels in the bathtub; chambermaids understand that ones outside them can be used for extra days.

10. Consume Locally

Maine lobster you order in San Francisco or New Zealand lamb you're served in New York are the results of extensive long-haul shipping and handling. Instead choose locally grown meats, vegetables, fruits, and wines on your green vacation; you'll develop a fuller appreciation of your area while you savor it.
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