Planning Your Eco-Vacation
Many organizations exist for the sole purpose to promote earthfriendly travel. A few moments online will reveal hundreds of eco-vacation operators, touring companies, and organizations heralding the latest way to leave the lightest footprint. Whether you chose paint-by-number eco-vacations or design your own, become familiar with your ecotourism options, costs (which can be considerable), and safety.
Becoming a green traveler is all about choices your family makes before you leave home and while you're on vacation. Those choices differentiate the responsible traveler. Eco-travel is also an opportunity to educate your children about being good stewards of the planet, even while on vacation. The first step toward planning an eco-vacation is to get educated about ecotourism. There are many resources to help you become acquainted with taking an ecovacation.
The Earthwatch Institute can boast 120 projects in more than 55 countries researching climate change, marine biology, endangered species, and traditional cultures. At this organization it's all about sustainable environment, so it's a great resource to learn about eco-travel. Got teenagers or tweens in the family? This site in particular is perfect for them because through the Earthwatch Institute teens can participate in Earthwatch's Teen Teams expeditions. In this program, high school juniors and seniors can work with local partners and scientists in the field to learn how to safeguard endangered resources. Earthwatch is the largest environmental volunteer nonprofit organization and contains a wealth of family-friendly information on green travel. And you never know, besides being a great resource for your eco-travel planning, your teen might become inspired to be an Earthwatch volunteer! What a great item to put on a college application. For more information visit,
The Ocean Conservancy
More than half a million members and volunteers advocate on behalf of the world's oceans through the Ocean Conservancy. The science-based group has already changed the world through promoting healthy ocean ecosystems and opposing fishing and other practices that harm or threaten ocean and human life. Kids can go online to the Ocean Conservancy's website to learn about, vote for, and help save their favorite fish. The Ocean Conservancy magazine is full of enough information about ocean conservation and animals to keep your family busy discussing all the ways you can leave the lightest footprint on your vacation. (
Tell tour operators and reservationists that you are a responsible consumer. Ask questions about their environmental policy, percentage of local employees, and how their destination benefits the local community.
The International Ecotourism Society
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the oldest and largest ecotourism organization in the world. TIES has members in more than ninety countries and is a resource for finding the latest and greatest in eco-travel referrals for you and your family. Though you can save money researching and booking your eco-vacation yourself, sometimes, and particularly for first-time eco-traveling families, it's a good idea to ask an expert for help. Members of organizations like TIES are usually required to follow responsible ecotourism guidelines in order to be a member, a list of whom can be found on the TIES website:
The earth's oceans offer numerous opportunities for engaging in sustainable travel. EarthEcho International was founded by the grandson and granddaughter of legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau have followed in their family's footsteps, and have continued the quest to preserve the planet's oceans and freshwater systems. Considering a water vacation? Your family can begin learning online about preserving the planet's water systems and how conservation is relevant to their daily life at
Are you ready to start planning your earth-friendly vacation? The world awaits you, but how do you start planning? An easy way to begin is to discuss what type of eco-vacation you're interested in taking. Are the nutrient-rich waters of Washington State calling you? Perhaps you've always wanted to see the California redwoods. Maybe interacting with vibrant sea creatures is more your style. How about a rafting trip through the Amazon? You'll have to research your area of the world to determine the closest eco-destination near your home, but here are a few destinations to get you started.