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Green travel can be accomplished to some degree in many different ways, and most of the options can be applied to both local and international travel. Depending on the destination, travelers may not be able to avoid air or ship travel, but between the two, most experts agree that travel by ship has less negative environmental impact than flying. Upon arrival, there are many options to help ensure green travel. Travelers should opt for bicycles or trains for transport to locales that cannot be reached by foot, and hotels should be researched to find out which ones operate in an environmentally friendly way. Many international hotels and motels now publish their green footprint online, and if not, they will generally be willing to answer questions via email or phone.
Some hotels now offer a program targeted at reusing linens to help offset energy for guests interested in green travel. The program typically gives their guests the opportunity to use sheets and towels for three or four days before changing them. This can drastically reduce the amount of energy used for linen cleaning. In addition, some hotels now offer recycling bins both within their lobbies and in the suites themselves. Lighting is also important, so travelers should inquire whether the hotel uses energy-saving bulbs or traditional lighting.
If air travel cannot be avoided, travelers should check with their airline about the type of plane they are booking. Some planes are fitted with additional wings that can sometimes cut fuel use by as much as 3%. In addition, air travelers can make an effort to be sure their flight is fully booked, as more people who fly at one time on a single plan can theoretically leave a smaller carbon footprint.
When traveling inside a single continent, when air or ship is not necessary, ensuring green travel typically means traveling by train or bus. For shorter trips, it may be a good idea to carpool. Many people advertise in local newspapers to locate others who may want to share their trip. Some experts on green travel recommend saving up vacation time and taking one trip per year, as taking a singular, longer trip will generally leave a smaller carbon footprint than several short ones.
Travelers interested in a cruise should probably look into sailing. Wind energy is considered one of the most environmentally friendly forms of energy, and some cruise lines now offer wind-powered excursions. In addition, it may be possible to charter a sailboat for personal or group use.
@pastanaga - I had a friend who worked with a travel agency who organized those kinds of trips and she said they are becoming more and more popular. There are a lot of people in the world who want to contribute to efforts to preserve the environment, but aren't sure what to do outside their own sphere of green living.
She said one of the most popular trips was working with sea turtles in South America and I can see why. That would be an amazing experience even without being able to feel good at doing something that really means something.
That said, I would like to point out that another option for green travel is to go and see something new in your own country. Very few people have explored everything there is to see in their own backyards and it certainly saves on the air pollution if they do so.
Another way to go green while you are traveling is to consider doing some volunteer work while you are over there. There are all kinds of schemes that allow you to support environmental causes and also have experiences that you would otherwise never have.
One that I really hope to do one day is working with the people who are conserving the giant pandas in China.
You would probably be doing something like teaching English to the workers so they can encourage tourism or maybe clearing up litter or something like that, but everything counts.
It's a really good way to have a vacation but also do something meaningful.
Traveling as green as possible is really admirable, but you should also try to consider the cultural impact you are having on the people around you.
Try to buy local where ever you can and give back to the economy. This means not eating at the McDonalds every day when you can have local foods and not shopping at the fancy stores when there are handmade markets down the street.
This encourages the local economy but it also helps them to reduce pollution because they aren't flying things in to cater for your foreign tastes.
Plus you really get to experience a different world, which is what travel is all about in my mind!
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