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luxuriamusic

5.22.2008

fine living network has a new show called all-girl getaways. the show follows a different group of women each week: friends, family, coworkers, etc., as they plan their ultimate getaway vacation + then take a trip.

i'm excited to share with you my ecotravel interview with all-girl getaways hostess, editor of travelgirl magazine + mother, stephanie oswald:

hi stephanie! i'm a full-time mother + wife, who's never gotten away or even used a babysitter, except at the gym for an hour at a time. a "girl's getaway" is a foreign concept to me, but i'm interested to see how women/mom's do it. i nursed my daughter for 2 1/2 years on demand (attachment parenting style with co-sleeping), then i was diagnosed with aggressive locally advanced breast cancer, so i've been going through treatment + recovery for the last 2 years. no "escaping" for me yet, unless it's into the internet, but i'm looking forward to getting away.

do you have any advice on earth friendly getaways (with + without children) in the US? for example: transportation options, destinations, accommodations (not camping/hostels), organic food/restaurants. any tips for reducing the carbon footprint of a getaway? airplanes/vehicles use so much gas + emit so much pollution, are trains a better option? should people "get away" closer to home, rather than add extra pollution to the planet from the pollution their unnecessary travel produces (such as flying to hawaii for the weekend or long-distance driving vacations)? any other advice or opinions on the topic?

Hi Kristen! "Going Green" is such a hot topic right now, my first piece of advice to anyone planning an "earth-friendly" getaway tied into a resort or specific hotel is to make sure that the place touting themselves as "earth-friendly" really has some eco-friendly policies in place, and is not simply jumping on the "go green" bandwagon to attract environmentally conscious travelers. Before you book, ask them what they are doing to help the environment -- Do they have a recycling program for guests? Do they re-use sheets and towels per guests' discretion? Do they have solar power?

A few websites where you can research appropriate accommodations are: The Green Hotels Association (www.greenhotels.com), the International Ecotourism Society (www.ecotourism.org) and Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravel.com). You'll find lists of legitimate eco-friendly destinations around the world.

I'm glad you brought up ecotourism, because it's something dear to my heart, and a key topic we address in every issue of
travelgirl magazine. It's also a hot topic for All-Girl Getaways, because one one of our episodes profiles a group of scientists who have a real passion for the Earth -- and they are determined to bring that feeling along on their holiday... So, they stay at a truly eco-friendly resort (Kona Village Resort on the Big Island) where they are able to spend some time working on clearing out a natural pond, and they also do some work on a taro farm! Of course, they also go to the beach, take a submarine tour and learn how to luau -- but they successfully "make a difference" for the Earth on their all-girl getaway. The Hawaii episode is one of my favorites because I think it's a great example of how it's possible to take a break from everyday responsibilities while still following your passions, with your gal pals!
When it comes to reducing our "carbon footprint" I believe that it's our individual responsibility as travelers to do what's best for the Earth, no matter what type of travel we're participating in. From adventure travel to business trips, to girlfriend getaways, everyone CAN make a difference. As far as children are concerned, they learn what's right from watching mom and dad -- so if you're recycling and not being wasteful, your kids will do the same. Any child can be taught not to litter, to be sure to turn off excess lights, and not to touch the coral reefs while snorkeling. Other things we can do as travelers: Pack a travel mug on every trip. Rent a hybrid car whenever possible. Create your own "Please don't wash my sheets or towels yet" card to bring with you, for hotels that don't provide one. Bring your own shampoo/conditioner/lotion, rather than using the small bottles provided by the hotel. Adjust the A/C and turn off the lights/TV/appliances when leaving your room for the day.
There are also ways you can officially offset your impact. Websites such as carbonfund.org have "carbon calculators" that will help you determine what your carbon footprint is -- based on frequent flier miles and other travel-related actions. Then, you can contribute funding to offset that impact. Money goes toward projects such as tree plantings or installing solar panels.
An upcoming issue of travelgirl magazine features an interview with Margaret Lydecker, the head of the "Green Drinks" networking organization. She tells contributing editor Lynn Parramore why this social movement is so important, and you can find out more at greendrinks.org. There's such a strong tie-in between travel and the environment, I love to hear about organizations like this where people are getting together and exchanging ideas that will make a difference.
I would not say trains are a "better" option in the big picture of travel, mainly because the system in the USA is limited compared to what's available in Europe or other parts of the world. However, when it comes to saving money -- and saving the Earth -- if you're talking about a "big city" getaway, taking the subway is certainly a great option. One of the top budget tips I give to girlfriends planning an all-girl getaway is to choose a destination where they won't need to rent a car. Cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, etc. all have great public transportation. It's also a smart move to meet your travel partners at the airport and then rent one vehicle --- or, stay at a place that offers free shuttles from and to the airport. It's those little extras that add up! From my perspective, you can be an eco-friendly traveler in your own hometown or half-way around the world. It's about being aware of HOW you travel, respecting the environment and not being wasteful.

One more note on destinations: Costa Rica used to be the "poster child" for "green" vacations. A lot has changed there in recent years, but there are still some fabulous eco-friendly resorts. Travelers who are looking for the next "hot" eco-destination might look to Nicaragua, Uruguay and Ecuador. These are all destinations that have strong ties to the natural environment and are welcoming the traveler who wants to cherish the Earth.

--Stephanie

that's wonderful information
stephanie! about saving jet fuel, i read that a 2-minute jet take off causes pollution equal to setting a gas station on fire + air travel is responsible for 2% of green house gases now, but by 2050 the percentage will be 15-20%. do you know of the "greenest" cities in the continental us? is going to natural places, good for them or better if we stay in the cities?

Hi again Kristen,
As far as the "greenest" cities in the continental US, I would say Seattle, WA; Denver, CO; (and nearby Boulder,CO); Sedona, AZ; and Austin, TX come to mind. These are destination cities where the local community has an overwhelming commitment to taking care of the Earth, preserving green spaces and generally keeping its impact on the environment in check. In turn, that feeling is spread to tourism -- so when you travel to these places, you find hotels, resorts, spas and tourism boards with legitimate "go green" programs; you see tour operators that function with minimal impact to the environment; and you find chefs/restaurant owners committed to recycling, organic farming and staying loyal to local produce.
The question "to go or not to go" when it comes to impact has been around since the first travel agent sold a ticket -- and it's a hard one to answer. My personal feeling is that the key to success is "responsible travel" -- meaning following the rules when it comes to respecting the environment. For example: not picking up shells from a protected beach, not touching the coral when you're scuba diving or snorkeling, not treading in a turtle or bird nesting area (even if it's the best part of the beach and you're only there for one week!). Realizing that if you choose to travel during peak season you must plan ahead -- places like the Galapagos only allow a certain number of travelers at a time and that quota must be respected.
There are places in the USA such as Smoky Mountains National Park or the Grand Canyon where the numbers of travelers are over-the-top in certain parts of the park, but extremely low in others. For the physically fit traveler who can manage getting off the "beaten path," I strongly encourage them to do so -- for themselves, and for the Earth. At the current time, I hold that it's more beneficial to educate ourselves and explore the green spaces with minimal impact, rather than restricting our travels to cities.

Stephani Oswald
Editor-in-Chief Co-founder
travelgirl magazine
Host, All-Girl Getaways
fineliving.com/allgirlgetaway

official website:
fineliving.com/fine/all_girl_getaways
some preview videos of the show here:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=J4-fG31UKb8 (behind-the-scenes)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=h7SMZ8OYJVE (promo clip)

“Mommies Only” getaway episode is July 2

by ~mod*mom~ at 22.5.08 ©

6 Comments:

I've been wondering those same questions. I like the video clips, but I don't get expanded cable or I'd watch the show.

By Anonymous Denise, at 5/23/2008 11:30 AM  

I want to go on that show! YOu should be on that show MOd*MOM

By Anonymous Rachelle, at 5/23/2008 9:56 PM  

I'm going to use these "green travel" tips from now on. I like the idea of "green hotels"

By Anonymous Wil, at 5/28/2008 3:02 PM  

I learn so much ecofriendly lessons here

By Anonymous Jade, at 5/29/2008 11:31 AM  

great article --- especially the part about nicaragua! Lil Bobby and I went to Nicaragua with the family last year --- very green, almost the only way to survive is to be green, as the electricity and water services are sketchy. I can't wait to tell Bobby's Mom when she gets home from the office. Thanks mod*mom!

By Blogger Bobby, at 6/10/2008 4:36 PM  

Recession and inflation are two factors that have taken the whole world by storm. The slump in the economies has led to a major downfall in the travel and tourism sector also. Cost cutting and rightsizing, as they call it have hit most of the countries of the world. Under such circumstances it is only natural that the travel industry has seen a steep fall in the graph. Tourism has also declined in the countries like India that is one of the favorite destinations for the leisure traveler. Thankfully, since the country is now a growing lucrative market with a bulk of foreign investment, the number of business travelers has not witnessed a cut down. The business hotels situated in the major cities of India also have the facilities and ambience of luxury hotels, as these hotels most of the time cater to the overseas business travelers. The business hotels in Hyderabad and the hotels in Hyderabad along with the four metros can be counted in this group. Earlier amongst the metros, Delhi and Mumbai enjoyed the highest number of business travelers. However, times have changed now and Chennai and Kolkata are also fast becoming business hubs. The rising number of business hotels in Chennai and Kolkata is testimonial of this fact.

By Blogger Fortune Park Hotels Ltd, at 10/30/2008 4:00 AM  

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