10 Earth-Friendly Getaways for You and Your Friends

By Ariel Newman

Cover art for Go Green Girl by Stacey Sorenson

Whether you’re looking to be more environmentally aware in your life and travels, or just looking to start a new adventure, this book has everything you need. Stacey Sorensen and her gal pals share with us their own traveling green experiences while giving the reader useful information.

She gives us all the tools to plan our own green trip, from booking guidelines and lodging information to packing checklists and a list of reminders for up to 120 days prior to your trip. Her enthusiasm for adventure and friendship coupled with her passion for the environment makes this read not only informative, but powerfully thought-provoking.

Here are some selections:

1. Party with a purpose at a Green Festival!

“Green festivals are education and fun events with a real purpose — to get you and your friends started on loving and caring for our planet. Founded in 2001, Green Festival is now the world’s largest and most authentic green-living show. It lasts for two to three days and is held annually in San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

These remarkable Green Festivals celebrate ‘what’s working in our communities — for people, business, and the environment.’ Learn from more than 125 visionary speakers and authors, take how-to workshops, view cutting-edge green films, taking amazing yoga classes, sit in on career sessions, listen to live music, and sample an array of delicious organic cuisine, beer, and wines.

Shop in the Green Festival marketplace with hundreds of eco-friendly businesses- everything from all natural body care products and organic cotton clothing to Fair Trade gifts and beautiful kitchen tiles made from renewable resources.

If you volunteer at the festival, you’ll receive free admission, an exclusive T-shirt, discounts, and more. Becoming a part of the green team will no doubt motivate, educate, and cause you to re-evaluate your own greenness.”

2. See the Earths Wonder’s with “Save the Earth” Experts

“Discover treasures, tigers, and the Taj Mahal in India; go trail-building along the Ozarks’ Buffalo National River; take a safari in Tanzania; or explore the wild side of Belize. Sound amazing? It most certainly is! With an explosion of programs and the dedicated guides, the Sierra Club offers us the chance to ‘grow up organically’ and partner with them on everything from repairing meadows and helping with archaeological surveys, to rebuilding trails and wildlife observation stations.

Stacey Sorensen
Stacey Sorensen

Or, if exploration is more your style, try backpacking through Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska or sailing the Vancouver Inner Island Passage of British Columbia.

As America’s oldest environmental organization, the Sierra Club embarks on more than 330 national outing programs each year, eighty to ninety volunteer vacations, and more than 20,000 local outings. When you’re ready to step out of your own backyard to a neighboring state or across the vast oceans to another continent, the Sierra club has a trip that you can enjoy with your good buddies while exploring and protecting the planet.”

3. Relax in the Country with Growers Who Care

“Sustainable agriculture means protecting the environment, especially the soil, while ensuring the farmer earns a good living. When done properly, it can more cost-effective overall, and provide us consumers with healthier foods.

That all sounds great, but where’s the travel fun you ask? That’s where “agri-tours” come in. These are the twenty-first century’s way of combining travel with supporting the environment through sustainable agriculture. In this chapter we’ll focus on agri-tours of vineyards, which combine the ever-so-popular-wine-touring phenomenon with the latest green awareness movement. Eco-friendly farming practices and good wines now go hand-in-hand.

Lucky for us the wines are getting better and better! And isn’t it wonderful to know that we can have and enjoy all that life has to offer and do it in an environmentally supportive way?

If it’s not wine you’re after, then take an on-line visit to agadventures.org or simply type in “agri-tours” in your search area and see what comes up. Here you’ll find everything from mushroom production, cows and goat farming, to coffee plantations, one-day to one-week adventures, in just about every corner of the country.”

4. Go Wild in America’s National Parks

“America’s national parks are natural wonders we’re all committed to saving. Did you know that there are more than fifty national parks with 21,011,778.5 acres of land and water set aside for us to explore and enjoy?

If it were not for the protection and preservation of these parks, vandalism, poaching, forest fires, and injurious insects would all but have destroyed these gifts from nature.

It was on March 1, 1872, with the signature of President Ulysses S. Grant, that Yellowstone Nation Park was established, the first large area designated by the federal government to be conserved for a new purpose- public recreation, education and appreciation of our wildlife, lakes, mountains, canyons, and remarkable forests.

Be it the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall, or the Grand Princess- to travel is to grow! Its one thing to experience manmade wonders like the Great Wall of China or the towering Pyramids of Egypt, but it’s another to embrace the grandeur of natural wonders like the Grand Canyon for the first time. All make you wonder: Why is this here, how did it form, why am I here, and why have I not come sooner?”

5. Sail Away on a Eco Cruise

“You might think “cruising” and “eco-friendly” are more a contradiction than a complement. But Carnival [Cruise Lines] is doing its part. Not only has the cruise line introduced the industry’s first “earth friendly” clothing laundering system, but they are also working to control emissions by using more fuel efficient engines, while increasing and upgrading hull and fuel tank safety in order to prevent leaks.

Carnival’s on-board policies are top notch when it comes to recycling (now close to reaching a 65 percent recycle rate), litter control, non-disposal at sea policy, and informative guest instructions for protecting and caring for our oceans and sea going friends.

Carnival has even installed a device on the Carnival Triumph that monitors ocean water quality and the data is sent via satellite to environmental groups, universities, and agencies to aid in assessing ocean pollution and global climate changes.”

6. Find Nature’s Balance in a Tropical Rain Forest

“With more exotic birds and plants and mammals than you can possibly imagine, rain forests are one of the most complex and fragile ecosystems on the planet. They cover more than two million square miles of the earth’s surface (that’s about six percent); and not only house a vast array of unique and one-of-a-kind wildlife, but more importantly, produce oxygen, clean the atmosphere, and provide us with extremely valuable medicinal plants.

Not only that, but rain forests also bring us such popular commodities as rubber, coffee, and lumber.

Sadly though, 20 percent of the forests of the world have already been cut down, and thousands of acres are vanishing each day at a rate of 6,000 acres an hour. Hurry to appreciate your rain forests wilderness adventure and help save these precious places before they vanish!”

7. Join a Eco-Safari at a Green Ranch

“A “safari” at a working ranch combines eco-tourism, agro-tourism, and cultural tourism all in one glorious adventure. Besides the joys of the great outdoors- you can discover the animals and wildlife that populate a region and need our protection.

Visions of Sandhill cranes and bald eagles, otters and alligators, and even wild cracker cows (that’s one I’d never heard of before) are abundant during a ranch adventure in Florida’s everglades, the Nebraska Sandhills, and in the California cattle country.

As you horseback ride, or boardwalk hike into Florida’s cypress swamps, you’ll discover alligator habitats, turkey sloths and maybe even see one of Florida’s own endangered panthers!

Have you been on the Disney safari ride, where you’re on this really cool open jeep, bouncing around, wind in your hair, catching a brief glimpse of wildlife?

Visiting these eco-ranches is about a thousand times more entertaining, thrilling, and enlightening! You’ll even get to try ‘gator bites for your afternoon snack. Delish? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but they do taste a little like chicken.”

8. Save a Whale at a Time at Coastal Cleanup Day

“Never release balloons outside, as they may be mistaken for a juicy jellyfish by unsuspecting marine creatures. Buy only line-caught tuna (its Dolphin safe). Keep your car maintenance up to date, cut up six pack rings before discarding them, and keep storm drains clean.

Reduce, reuse and recycle: that’s our new motto. These are things you and your friends can do every day to save a whale, or a few dolphins, or maybe, just maybe, a sea lion cub. Our ocean friends thank you. I thank you.

Although small acts like these are my daily contribution to ocean life I love, thousands of other from around the world feel that same way. Every September, the Ocean Conservancy sponsors International Coastal Cleanup Day- the world’s largest volunteer event of its kind.

In 2007, 378,000 people from up to 76 countries and 45 states picked up and cleaned up six million pounds of coastal trash from oceans and waterways- that’s an average 16 pounds per person.”

9. River Raft Down a Rushing White Water

“Rivers are like life, ever moving, changing, and evolving. Find one near you, or faraway, and sign up with a river rafting company for a guided float or rafting trip. You and your friends will learn a lot about the river’s environment along the way. Follow the “trash” rules you learned during your Coastal Cleanup Day, and protect the river environment.

For an adrenaline rushing, zero experience necessary, inexpensive, totally action-packed, no cement trees allowed, and noise free vacation (with the exception of your own hootin’ and hollerin’), river rafting is an escapade you and your friends will love. Crystal clean waters, warm brilliant sunshine, and you closest gal pals are the ideal ingredients for this kind of fun.”

10. Walking, Running, Supporting the Earth with Your Friends

“It’s estimated that walking is more than eleven times better for the climate than driving. Amazing isn’t it? So, auto manufacturers beware: The world is taking big strides to help save the planet and were doing it one “step” at a time.

With more choices, we have more opportunities to make better decisions. With every purchase you make — be it clothing, food, transportation and even travel — you have an opportunity to make the “greener” choice.

Call it a “Go Green Girlfriends Revolution!” Schools are doing it, big businesses are doing it, even your neighbors are jumping on board. There is power in numbers, ladies; and with influence, commitment, and friendship, together we can transforms and revolutionize our planets eco-system. One purchase, one choice, and one step at a time.”

Ariel Newman is a former editorial assistant at GoNOMAD and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts.

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