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Eight simple ways to travel more eco-responsibly

As travelers begin to make summer vacation plans, they should take into account their impact on the environment by considering simple steps that will make a big difference in how many resources they use. Sustainable Travel International (STI), a leading not-for-profit organization that specializes in promoting sustainable and eco-friendly tourism, offers travel tips to those who want to make a more conscious effort to be environmentally and culturally aware during their vacations.

The tips are an easy guide for responsible travelers to both help protect the environment and respect the socio-cultural and economic needs of their destination or host country. These simple tips can make a positive difference for years to come.

Green Travel Tips:

1. Offset your travel footprint.
Whether you travel by plane, train or automobile, you leave behind a carbon footprint. Calculate your trip's emissions with STI's carbon calculator and then invest in one of the offsetting portfolios, ranging from reforestation to renewable energy projects.

2. Give your house a vacation.
Don't waste resources you won't be using. Instead of just leaving a few lights on the whole time you're gone, set them to a timer that turns them on and off automatically. Adjust your thermostat so that neither the heat nor the air conditioner turns on. And put a hold on your newspaper delivery.

3. Pack a water filter and reusable water bottle.
Staying hydrated is important while traveling, but buying bottled water can add up during a trip. Cut down the monetary and environmental cost by packing a water filter.

4. Research eco-directories for sustaiblable outfitters.
Check out STI's eco-directory online. After you've chosen an outfitter, pick up the phone and ask the employees to explain how the company's philosophy is reflected in their daily practices.

5. Support the local economy.
Instead of stocking up on lotion and shampoo before you leave, pack the bare essentials and then go shopping in your destination. Hit the farmer's markets for locally grown foods, skip the chain restaurants in favor of locally-owned establishments, and buy fair trade products as souvenirs to make sure your money goes into the local's pockets.

6. Use public transportation or a bicycle to get around.
Once you've booked a trip, call your hotel or the local tourist board and find out how accessible public transportation is in the area or if you can get around on two wheels instead of four. Use a site like to plan routes between your activities and excursions. If you can't completely eliminate the need for a rental car, at least try to cut down how many days you'll need to use it. You'll save money and decrease your footprint.

7. Grasp your surroundings.
Avoid the "been there, done that" mentality. Make an effort to talk with the locals and understand the true character of your destination. Learn about the environment, culture and heritage of the area. You will leave with a stronger sense of connection and be able to share more than photos with friends and family.

8. Blog about your travels or post comments online.
Record your experiences and successes as a green traveler so future eco-tourists can use your tips. STI members can submit their experiences and tips to the STI blog or e-Newsletter.

STI offers a variety of online resource for green travelers. These tools can make planning a green trip simple and fun.

STI web resources:

– Sign up for this monthly newsletter for updates and more tips about sustainable travel. Also, visit the archives to see what you’ve missed.

Carbon Calculator – Calculate the carbon footprint for your vacation. You can also make a donation to offset your footprint.

Eco-directory – Locate sustainable travel destinations, resorts, tours, attractions and outfitters with this directory. Also, check out the volunteer vacation options to make a difference.

STI Blog – Read about other’s green travel experiences and get new ideas for your own green travel.

For more information visit Sustainable Travel International.