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Credit: Corbis

Low carbon, eco-friendly travel options for the environmentally, socially conscious traveller

 

Don’t expect to give up running water, electricity or luxury in order to green your next vacation. Whether you’re looking for eco-luxury, adventure or beach-side relaxation, there’s something eco-friendly for everyone.

 

Eco-Responsible Accommodations

Navigating green accommodations credentials can be confusing, as they range from rigorous and fully audited verifications to mail-in certifications—so look for examples and not just statements of environmental and social responsibility. For example, at Arenas del Mar, located near Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, the Jacuzzi water is solar heated, the pools are disinfected with salt, food is composted and waste water is treated on site.

 

Low-Carbon Travel Options

Figured out where you want to go? Good. How are you going to get there: plane, train or automobile? Generally speaking, trains are the greenest way to travel, followed by cars and then planes. As well, container ships are becoming the low-carbon travel type of choice for long haul trips and slow travel-ites. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of books to keep you occupied during the weeks at sea. Then, once you’ve hit land, grab a bicycle and your walking shoes!
 

"When in Rome…"—Eating Local

Embracing a locavore diet while vacationing spices things up. A Maharaja Mac may be India’s spin on the McDonald’s menu, but that’s not what I consider eating local. Visiting markets, trying new flavours, eating fresh foods and meeting local people adds a whole new dimension to travel. Or, if you find yourself locked into poolside position, ask for a local micro-brews or an organic daiquiri.
 

Supporting Local Artisans

Your friends and family will likely expect souvenirs when you return from vacation. Double check that the gifts you buy are made locally. Handing out t-shirts and trinkets stamped “Made in China” only makes sense if you have actually been travelling in China. Supporting local artisans and economies is important, but avoid souvenirs made from the shells of your Corona-carting sea turtles and other endangered animals. In fact, keeping your interaction with exotic animals in the flesh is best done under the guidance of a credible ecotourism operator.
 

Exotic Locals Right in Our Backyard

Vacations are most commonly short-term and high-impact trips to exotic places, so it’s difficult to keep our impact low. Enya and tie-dye may accompany some backyard campers, but as Vancouverites we have some of the most beautiful destinations in the world, right in our backyard. With snow-peaked mountains, lush forests, beautiful beaches and islands to explore, I say, “bring on the backyard!