“Green” Family Vacations



Who says green travel needs to cost a lot of green?

“You can have a memorable green adventure with your family even if you are on a budget,” said Liz Wessel, owner of Green Concierge Travel. “A lot of people think that a green trip means staying at a luxury ecolodge or the opposite, that it means camping.  But actually a wide range of choices exist; all it takes is a little planning.”

For instance, she says, your family can take a trip out West and raft or hike, or visit a historic, cultural center in the Midwest or explore the East Coast using Amtrak’s convenient corridor service.

“Companies like OARS offer memorable trips with the highest environmental standards in a range of prices,” Wessel noted. For example, the OARS Sierra Nevada Family Adventure Camp offers a mix of rafting, kayaking, hiking and exploring the Gold Rush area of California (minimum age 7 years; $701 youth price).

Sierra Club Outings also provides a diverse array of trips.  “I like the Sierra Club Outings because you can not only explore the high country or raft a river, but you can take your children on a scientific adventure in the Everglades,” she said. “Or this year, work on trails in the Maroon Bells in Aspen. Sierra Club is introducing young people to one of the fundamentals of ecotravel—giving back to the local community and the environment.”

Here are a few tips from Wessel that agents can share with families planning a green trip:

• Set a budget and work as closely as possible to it. The big-money items are often transportation to a destination and accommodations. Choose trains or buses to reduce your carbon footprint. Four people in a high-mileage car can be the green choice that works for you.

•At your destination, use the local transportation system.  Sometimes “getting there” can be the adventure, like taking a ferry across San Francisco Bay.

• Support businesses and services that are locally owned and green. If you like to eat locally grown food, seek out restaurants and cafes that feel the same way.  Or try a picnic after shopping at the local farmers’ market.

• Try local walking or biking tours. In Washington, D.C., Bike and Roll offers a Monuments Bike Tour that covers the monuments and memorials on the National Mall including Washington Monument, Vietnam Memorial, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. And don’t forget haunted city tours for the older kids!

“Use the core guidelines for ecotravel—giving back to the local economy and respecting the local culture and the environment. Apply your budget, and you will have memorable and satisfying travel experience with your family,” said Wessel.

For more ideas, visit the Green Concierge Travel website, www.greenconciergetravel.com, and check out Great Places as well as the Great Ideas list. 

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