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June 27, 2012

Green Travel on the Rise

By Guest Blogger

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Beynac-et-Cazenac, France, canoing among castles-146054237(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)
Canoeing among castles near Beynac-et-Cazenac, France (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

These days, just about everyone is aware of the impact humankind is having on our fragile environment. As such, we've seen a global shift toward more "green" living, from homes to businesses and, now, to travel. More people are taking a more sustainable approach to their vacation plans. In fact, according to TripAdvisor, of the 700 U.S. travelers they surveyed, 71 percent said they will make a conscious effort to select eco-friendly travel options over the coming year.

Why Green Travel?
It's no secret that Earth is overpopulated. Our natural resources are continuously being exhausted by overconsumption and deforestation, while pollution is disrupting our delicate eco-system. By choosing travel alternatives that offer a more eco-friendly approach, you can reduce your carbon footprint and preserve the fragile environment that is being seriously threatened. Best of all, you can do so without sacrificing the quality of your travel experience.

Green Travel Options
There are a number of simple ways travelers can choose more sustainable options when they travel. For instance, they can choose to stay at hotels that provide guests with the opportunity to participate in more eco-friendly activities such as towel and linen reuse, recycling programs, and water-efficient low-flow toilets and showerheads. Guests can take it a step further by committing to turning the lights off in their rooms when leaving the hotel and adjusting the thermostat to reduce waste.

Continue reading "Green Travel on the Rise " »

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism

January 06, 2011

Sustainable Travel and Volunteer Vacations in China

Naked resort
I'D RATHER GO NAKED THAN...: A swimming pond set among the bamboo forests of Moganshan in Zhejiang Province, China (naked Retreat)

Volunteer vacations are a unique and fulfilling way to travel—projects range from simple litter-picking in country parks to more complex building projects and highly-skilled support such as providing medical aid or technology training. As volunteers pay a fee for their trips, it is important to be careful when choosing projects to ensure that work being done is actually necessary and directly benefits the local communities. Although the concept of volunteer vacations in China is still relatively new, there is growing interest from independent travelers, schools, and companies wanting to "do something good."

China’s travel industry is growing at a phenomenal rate, particularly in rural areas where it is viewed as a quick way to promote economic growth. As travelers go further into China’s wild areas, it is important to remember to do so responsibly. Next time you take a family vacation, school trip, or company retreat why not consider choosing to support responsible travel in China? Creating enough demand will encourage the industry to grow and China’s beautiful landscapes and unique cultural heritage will remain wild, authentic, and awe-inspiring.

Continue reading "Sustainable Travel and Volunteer Vacations in China" »

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · Eco-Tourism

January 03, 2011

A Remedy for the Over-Priced Eco-venture

By Guest Blogger

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The Fiji Surf (Gemma Molinaro)

With all the hype that it's hip to be green, it's easy to see that flocks of folks have begun trending towards more sustainable types of travel. And that's a fabulous fact. Unfortunately, another less alluring aspect of this growing industry is the pretty price tag inevitably attached to it. The ugly truth is that it's not always cheap to be environmentally conscious, but luckily there are still a select few destinations dedicated to leaving a minimal impact on the environment and your budget. The key, of course, is being lucky enough to find one. Which is precisely why I was so pleasantly surprised when I accidentally (of all things) stumbled across one such gem while rambling aimlessly around the South Pacific.

Maqai (pronounced Mangai) is—to put it quite simply—a pristine paradise situated in the bluest waters of northern Fiji. And that's no lie. This awesome, adventure-oriented resort offers backpackers and vacationers alike an authentic experience that, four trips and 18 islands in, I've found nowhere else in the country. You may arrive as a tourist, but from the moment you step onto the white-sand beach and stroll up the stairs to the open-air sand bar, you're family.

Get There
Depending on your timetable (and, of course, your sense of adventure), you can either hop a quick flight (1.5 hours) from Nadi International Airport or board a boat from the capital city of Suva and cruise a cool 16 hours over the open sea. Whichever route you choose will deliver you directly to the island of Taveuni, which then leaves you no more than a hop, skip, and a jump—by which I mean a quick coastal drive and one more short boat ride (20 minutes tops and both included with your stay)—away.

Continue reading "A Remedy for the Over-Priced Eco-venture" »

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · South Pacific Travel

December 08, 2010

Luxury Belizean Jungle Jaunts

By Guest Blogger

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Cayo—Belize's largest district—conceals a magnificent history of memorable lodging. The ancient Maya made their homes here inside epic citadels from Caracol to Xunantunich. Modern visitors not only come to admire these early civilizations, they seek out total relaxation among the foothills of the Maya mountains and along the jungle-fringed coast.

You don't have to rough it to convene with nature in Belize. Here are four jaw-droppingly elegant eco lodges from each of Belize's cardinal points to get you into its varied and verdant landscape.

West is Best: Hidden Valley InnHidden valley
Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve; double rooms from $165.
Western Belize is bursting with exemplary jungle lodges but I believe Hidden Valley has the edge. This birders' haven hides out inside the Mountain Pine Ridge within a 7,200-acre private reserve. Its guides are among the best in Belize. Service is personal, attentive, and sincere, making it possible to learn the names of every member of staff after only a two-night stay. Even a cup of coffee, grown on the reserve, is roasted just for the guest. Ninety miles of creative trails, cut by landscaper Peter Durhager, enable guests to explore this hidden valley—on foot or by bike—without seeing another soul. Peter is no longer maintaining the trails (it's being handled internally by the hotel) and, while he lived in South Africa for many years, his nationality is Austrian. Sociable sorts chat by the fireplace (it can get surprisingly chilly at night), which forms the bar's focal point. Alternatively, cozy up by your private hearth in one of 12 cottages nestled in the grounds. For extra comfort, two deluxe suites include elegantly screened porches, slung with hammocks for hanging out with a good book. Outside showers mimic the reserve's natural cascades. Romantically minded guests reserve private waterfalls for the day ($120 including lunch and sparkling wine). Find your inner peace on one of their yoga pavilions, in handy hiking distance of the lodge.
(Photo Credit: Hidden Valley Inn)

Continue reading "Luxury Belizean Jungle Jaunts" »

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Related Topics: Central America Travel · Eco-Tourism

November 26, 2010

Hotel Spotlight: Jicaro Island Ecolodge

By Lacy Morris

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(Jicaro Island Ecolodge)

Jicaro Island is part of Nicaragua's Las Isletas Archipelago, some 365 tiny islands formed in 1570 when the northeast wall of the erupting Mombacho volcano started to avalanche, sending debris spewing into nearby Lake Nicaragua. Four hundred and thirty-seven years later, Karen Emanuel, a London native, noticed a flyer in a restaurant proclaiming "Island for Sale," and in early 2010 her dream became reality in the form of Jicaro Island Ecolodge, a secluded island retreat. Nine private two-story casitas line the outskirts of the island, the top floor being a romantic king-size bedroom looking out onto the lake. They are made entirely from Rainforest Alliance-certified wood reclaimed from timber that fell as a result of 2007's Hurricane Felix—sticking true to the resort's philosophy of "Take only photos; leave only footprints; try to do something to help preserve this amazing world we live in." Jicaro employs local staff and uses local vegetables, fruit, chicken, and beef in their fine-dining kitchen—all of which is included in your room rate. No air conditioning (it's not needed with the breeze from the lake), solar-panel heating, and a strong recycling program are all Karen's efforts to participate in sustainable tourism.

Check out's Top Ecolodges Guide for other resorts like Jicaro around the world.  

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Related Topics: Central America Travel · Eco-Tourism

October 15, 2010

The Great Green Travel Giveaway

By awayblog

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Airline ticket and passport (Martin Harvey-Gallo Images ROOTS) 71587899
(Martin Harvey)

Would you like to board a yacht bound for a seven-night Galapagos Islands cruise? A hike on the Inca Trail—destination: Machu Picchu? Or how about do your part to help promote social and environmental sustainability in travel? Now there's a way to do them all. Donate to Sustainable Travel International, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the tourism industry so that there is a positive impact on the environment, the people, and the places travelers like you visit. Each $10 ticket gets you a draw in the giveaway pot.

Enter to win here. For more information on how to travel green, check out's comprehensive guide to the world's Best Resorts & Lodges, from the top family resorts to best all-inclusives to dream safari lodges.

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism

September 17, 2010

Go Green With Our Guide to the World's Top 20 Eco-Lodges

By awayblog

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SITTING PRETTY: Aurum Lodge, on the shore of Lake Abraham in Alberta (Aurum Lodge)

We've just made the choice of traveling green simpler! Check out our new guide to the world's top 20 eco-lodges, where we cut through the greenwashing and highlight those places that practice what they preach: think lodges built from locally harvested materials, solar- and wind-powered electrical setups, and a focus on sustainable, community-driven tourism and development. Absolutely, we've got the life-list jungle lodge in Ecuador plus that drop-off-the-radar wilderness lodge in Alaska, but let's not forget the humble two-room Midwestern inn that's 100 percent off the grid or that community of yurts that melds with its rugged Big Sur environs. Rest assured that whatever dream destination to which you decide to travel, these 20 picks will let you sleep easy with a clear eco-conscience. No greenwashing required.

For more expert recommendations to over 300 of the best spots to bed down around the globe, check out's comprehensive guide to the world's Best Resorts & Lodges, from the top family resorts to best all-inclusives to dream safari lodges.

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · Outdoor Adventures · Places to Stay

July 22, 2010

Eco-Friendly Adventure in Puerto Rico

By Guest Blogger

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Ty - The Beast Zipline
The Beat Zipline (Ty Stevens)

Welcome to the Toro Verde Adventure Park & Eco Resort, a 100-acre jungle oasis located in the heart of Puerto Rico. It's the ultimate playground, offering hours of mountain biking, rock climbing, and zip-line adventures with lush jungle landscapes as the backdrop.

Adrenaline junkies can fly on more than 20 canopy zip-lines (with more to come) that range from 100 to 3,000-plus feet in length, and are up to 800 meters high. My favorite fix is "The Beast," touted as the second longest zip-line in the world with average break neck speeds of 50-plus mph. Imagine ripping through the sky in a prone "superman"-style harness. Below on the forest floor is a network of world-class mountain-bike trails linking miles of varied jungle terrain.

The park itself is being developed in three phases, with a projected 316 acres at completion. With phase one complete, phase two promises "more fully sustainable, and primarily natural-surface mountain-bike trails," says seven-time world champion mountain biker and trail designer Marla Streb of Streb Trail Productions. Marla has turned her passion for trails, mountain biking, and land preservation into a full-time pursuit and is responsible for many sustainable development and education projects in several regions of Central America. Her philosophy is to "use, not abuse," expressing the importance of enjoying and interacting with these natural wonders without leaving behind our mark. The idea behind this project, she says, is to work with world-class athletes to design world-class trails, with a variety of options that appeal to beginner and advanced riders and hikers alike.

Continue reading "Eco-Friendly Adventure in Puerto Rico" »

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Related Topics: Caribbean Travel · Eco-Tourism · Exotic Escapes

June 02, 2010

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

By Lacy Morris

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Market_veggies(Rudi Sebastian,Getty)
Market Selections (Rudi Sebastian/Getty)

June is here, and as National Fruit and Vegetable Month there's no better time to head out to your local farmers' markets or plan a vacation or road trip around one of the biggest and best in the country. Sunshine, bargains, and great people-watching all define one of summer's favorite pastimes. Here are five of the best:

St. Paul Farmers' Market
St. Paul, Minnesota
The calm Midwest city of St. Paul comes alive at the local market where the St. Paul Growers' Association allows only fresh, locally grown produce to be sold. The market also features bakery goods, cheese, poultry, buffalo, venison, beef, pork, lamb, maple syrup, eggs, bagel sandwiches, honey, organic plants and produce, flowers, plants, shrubs, and many other items. The market sets up in various places around town and is open every day except Monday. Late May/early June sees weather in the low 80s—perfect for outdoor shopping.

Continue reading "National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month" »

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · Food and Drink

April 30, 2010

Denver Launches Community Bike Share Program

By Lacy Morris

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The Mile High City is making it easier to get around with some 500 new Trek bikes available for sharing at 40 stations around the city. The Denver B-Cycle program is the first of its kind. The three-speed bikes cost $5 for a 24-hour membership, 30 minute or less rides are free, and rides up to an hour are only a dollar. Prices go up accordingly from there. 7-day passes go for $20, 30-day for $30, and annual memberships are an easy $65. Student and senior discount are available. In June, the bikes will be outfitted with computers to track miles, calories burned, and carbon offsets so that riders can watch their own fitness as well as see their contribution to Denver's efforts of going green. Check here for more information.

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · From Around the Web

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