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Ryan Fernandez
Ryan Fernandez

Tourism can be Earth-friendly too

Living a green lifestyle is not limited to your regular home or work routine. You can also employ environmentally-friendly techniques while you travel, whether for business or pleasure. When you take these steps, you not only protect local environments, but you'll often find experiences that are more rewarding.

Stay Green

When booking your accommodation, consider hotels that practice green habits. Use GreenHotels.com or EcoGreenHotel.com to find hotels that use energy and water saving equipment and techniques, such as low-flower showerheads, motion sensors, solar power heating and lights-out cards. Research the area before arrival, so you can choose a hotel that is in a central location. Then you can walk, bike or take public transportation to your destinations.

Conserve Natural Resources

Just as you try to conserve natural resources at home, do the same when you travel.

  • Take mass transit, bike or walk.
  • Stay on marked trails and encourage others to do the same.
  • Buy reusable products, such as shopping bags or drinking containers.
  • Use water purifiers instead of buying bottled water.
  • Bring rechargeable batteries.

Personal and Local Safety

Before you go, choose a travel provider based on eco-principles and practices. Then educate yourself about the destination. Prepare for everything, including local customs, languages, history and safety. While you're traveling, consider the environment's safety as well as your own. Store your personal information in a safe place, like in a hotel safe or money belt. According to USA.gov, travelers shouldn't carry their Social Security card with them and should be aware of "shoulder surfers" who could steal passwords or personal information. Learn more about how to keep your identity safe on the LifeLock channel on YouTube.

Support Local Trades

When you shop, visit local boutiques, farmers' markets and restaurants. This does more than just support local economy; it will give you greater insight into the places you visit. If you spend time talking with the workers, you may very well obtain better information about special adventures that aren't on the regular tourist maps.

Respect the Local Culture and Traditions

Respecting the local people and culture is just as important as respecting the environment. If you're not familiar with the language of your destination, take a little time to learn important phrases. Remember that you're the one who doesn't understand their language; it isn't the other way around. Determine in advance what is expected of visitors to historic or religious sites, and respect the local tradition. The U.S. State Department compiles fact sheets about the history, government, economy, people and foreign relations of 200 countries. You can also use a guidebook such as Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor to help you become acquainted with your destination.

Try a Volunteer Vacation

A volunteer vacation provides you with time away from your daily routine while giving you the opportunity to help the environment. Consider joining the American Hiking Society for a week of hiking or backpacking to help build and maintain hiking trails. Trips involve a small group of individuals that spend six or seven hours of the day cleaning and improving trails. Late afternoons and evenings are spent enjoying the surroundings. You can also consider volunteering with the WWOOF, an international organization that provides just what its name declares: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Visit WWOOFInternational.org to learn about hosting or volunteering with the program.

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If done right, eco-tourism can be a sustainable model for the environment creating a symbiotic relationship between the tourist and the location. I love to live a green lifestyle!

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