Planet-Friendly Travel Tips

Travel experts at Boulder, Colo.-based ecotour outfitter Natural Habitat Adventures want to help you fight global warming while keeping your travel cool with five ways to avoid making your next vacation a guilt trip:

  1. Stay Neutral: Going the group tour route? Check for green credentials. Increasingly, travel outfitters are bolstering an ongoing commitment to sustainable travel by going carbon neutral. For example, Natural Habitat Adventures reduces its carbon emissions with programs that include recycling and renewable energy use, then buys offsets to make up the difference. Other carbon neutral outfitters include O.A.R.S., REI Adventure and Escape Adventure. Traveling on your own? Organizations like Sustainable Travel International (http://www.sustainabletravelinternational.org) will help you calculate and offset trip emissions; major online travel companies Travelocity and Expedia also offer travelers offsetting options when they make reservations.
  2. Chart a green course: New eco-maps chart the natural and cultural environment to suggest low-impact activities and resources wherever you travel. Green Map System (http://www.greenmap.org) provides "green" maps of some 302 spots around the globe, with most recent offerings ranging from Missoula, Mont., to 17 new Taiwanese maps.
  3. Train yourself: Check into train or bus options wherever you travel. Also, if you do end up driving, keep your car well-tuned and tires properly inflated to pollute less -- and cut gas costs up to 15 percent.
  4. Fuel for Thought: Committed to a road trip? Try to buy gas from a more environmentally responsible oil company: The Sierra Club recently updated its "Pick Your Poison" guide to gasoline; two companies, BP and Sunoco, continue to receive its "top of the barrel" rating. Better yet, buy or rent a hybrid or bio-fuel car. Whatever your vehicle choice, consider joining eco-friendly auto club Better World Club (http://www.betterworldclub.com), which offers discounts on hybrid cars and eco-travel -- and even roadside assistance for bicycles.
  5. In transit: If you do fly, eschew individual cabs in favor of public transit or a hotel shuttle to and from the airport. Or try hailing a hybrid cab: San Francisco, New York and Chicago all have added hybrid taxis to their fleets, mainly Ford Escape Hybrids, while the Brits recently introduced the new lower-emission diesel TX4 taxi in London. While you're visiting another city, remember to plan your day around walking destinations or the city's public transit options.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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