A vacation you can be proud of
Going away? We all need a break sometime. But that doesn't mean that we should leave our values at home. Especially when there are so many ways for concerned travellers to minimize their environmental impact. Here are some ideas to help you plan a vacation that the whole world can get excited about.
Do your research
Social networks, blogs and forums are also great sources of information for concerned travellers. Ask your Facebook friends, go to travel discussion forums and read green travel blogs (e.g., Sustainable Travel International, Go Green Travel Green, the Guardian's Green Travel posts).
Interested in an organized tour? Some organizers cater exclusively to ecotourists. These tour groups tend to be smaller in size. Organizers work with suppliers to make sure that locals see a fair share of the profits. The focus is on cultural exchange and respect for the environment.
You Don't have to Fly
If you drive – double, triple, quadruple up! Or take the bus, subway or train. And call ahead to see if you can bring your bike along.
If you must fly, remember to offset your greenhouse gas emissions with credits bought with your tickets or from such agencies as Planetair.
How Green is your hotel?
Have you heard about the new environmental certification programs for campsites, hotels and other tourist accommodations? Programs such as Audubon Green Leaf™ Eco-Rating assess businesses for environmental policies and practices, including waste management, responsible consumption, water and energy use, employee training and customer awareness.
For total immersion, work for an organic farmer in exchange for room and board through WWOOF. A unique exposure to local culture with a minimal environmental footprint.
Make a game of eating local
Make local food the fun, environmentally friendly focus of your next holiday. Attend a tasting meal or a cooking class at a country inn or visit the cheesemakers, cider houses or berry farms of your favourite region.
While travelling, go to farmers markets instead of supermarkets. You'll be sure to make unexpected cultural and culinary discoveries. Travelling in Quebec? Use our local food directory.
Put that pine cone down, and other outdoor adventures
A day trip to a local farm can be fun and educational for the whole family.
You don't need to be doing a motorized activity to enjoy the outdoors. Go hiking, biking, horseback riding...
Contact provincial and regional adventure tour organizations (e.g., Quebec's AEQ) for more ideas.
Visit the Leave No Trace Canada website to learn about conservation principles for the outdoors – to preserve the natural balance of the areas you visit!
Finally, wherever you are, take the opportunity to connect with the local population. Seeing how people live in other places is an important part of sustainable tourism.
Encourage the local economy: buy your souvenirs from local artisans. antique shops, farmers markets, craft fairs, these are all great places to find souvenirs. If your travels are taking you to Quebec or Atlantic Canada, visit an economuseum for a one-of-a-kind gift.
If you're heading South, visit Fair Trade Certified cooperatives to show support for their work and to learn more about the production methods behind the products we buy. You can also pick up a fair trade craft or product as a souvenir! The World Fair Trade Organization has listings for cooperatives, grouped by continent.
Share your favourite eco-tourism ideas with us in the comments section!