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Irene Lane

Irene Lane

Irene is the founder & president of Greenloons. She is a dual EU citizen who has lived in 5 countries and visited 32 more in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe. Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences to address authentic ecotourism from community, ecological and financial points of view, Irene is a frequent conference speaker, Huffington Post blogger and radio talk show guest. 

Posted by on in Family Eco Travel

Service Travel through NicaraguaA few weeks ago, my husband and nine-year-old son took a long weekend getaway to Nicaragua. The purpose of the trip was to assist with a service project for Soccer Without Borders, which is a nonprofit organization that helps use soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of young girls in Granada, Nicaragua (as well as other locations within the United States and Africa). The girls are provided after school tutoring, the opportunity to learn how to play soccer and chances to earn scholarships to pay for secondary schooling.

We thought it would be a good experience for our son to learn about the social, economic and educational challenges these girls face every day, practice his Spanish language skills, and, perhaps, make some personal connections via soccer play.

Wild Atlantic Way SceneThere's so much that surprised me during my trip to Ireland last October from the people (extraordinarily friendly souls who have a penchant for going out of their way to help others) to the vistas (there's a reason people call it the Emerald Isle) to the music (celebrating humanity's full range of emotions from sadness and tragedy to joy and passion) to the food (sustainably sourced by necessity and simply delicious) that it's hard to pick out a moment that stood out above all!

But, I can and that moment was during an e-biking trip along the Wild Atlantic Way.

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  • Mu'izz Naa'im
    Mu'izz Naa'im says #
    Ecotourism is not only 'greene...
    Hello Irene Lane, This post really attractive because I have always wanted to visit Ireland. Ireland has ability to be top ecotou

Highland Games CompetitorsIf you are the parent of a pre-teen, then most likely you have heard of the online game, Clash of Clans. For the uninitiated, the premise of this game is to build a village, join a clan and then smash another player's village for its resources so your village grows larger and stronger.

For our son, the village has the honor of being the first thing he checks in on the morning, right after school and again after he's done with his homework. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, I would recommend incorporating this theme with the unique history and fun of the Highland Games into your next family summer vacation.

ParenzanaViewTake the imagery of Tuscany (without the crowds) and combine it with a family-friendly biking and hiking trail that meanders through various villages offering comfortable accommodations and fantastic culinary delicacies, and you have Croatia's Parenzana Trail in a nutshell.

The 123 kilometer (approximately 77 mile) biking and hiking trail's history is quite comical. Originally built as a train rail line that transported goods and passengers throughout the region of Istria to and from the Italian port of Trieste, the slow train operated from 1902 to 1935.

Scotland BikingThis past summer, our European family vacation was dedicated to experiencing all things local. Whether it was touring a family-owned organic vineyard or seeing a cultural dance performance just outside of Dubrovnik in Croatia, spending a sun-drenched few days on the island of Hydra in Greece, or enjoying the spectacular Highland colors and absolutely delicious family-style meals at the Fraoch Lodge in Scotland, we wanted local and sustainable, and we wanted it to be the best.

So, when my nine-year-old son declared that of the many great experiences he had "Scotland was my favorite because (Fraoch) lodge felt like home", that was saying a lot!

Bus Travel from Split CroatiaWith classic rock music playing, reliable Wi-Fi access, and spectacular scenery (think of the Pacific Coast Highway in California times two for beauty), who knew bus travel in Croatia could be so fun!

Last summer, my nine-year-old son and I traveled for 17 days throughout Croatia. We started out in Dubrovnik and continued on to Split, then Opatija, Rovinj, and finally to Zagreb.  It was a fantastic trip filled with historical sites, great food, outdoor adventure, and friendly people.  

Taking a bus, however, was not my original plan for traversing the coastline.  Instead, I wanted to travel by train or boat as I thought it would be more fun for my son and more green. However, I quickly figured out that the only reliable form of public transport in Croatia is taking a bus.

Picking Vegetables and Fruits from Backyard Farm on Family VacationOver the years, I've come to realize that one factor that makes a family vacation a fantastic vacation is picking out the right accommodations.

For us, that means renting a locally-owned home, wherever possible, as it is more environmentally conscious and more fun.  We've rented apartments and villas in many countries including the United States, Italy, Canada, and Spain, and during this past summer, we rented a villa in Cyprus.

Rock Farm Slane Communal AreaI had just landed in Dublin, after an overnight flight from Washington DC, on a sunny morning a few weeks ago and found myself once again caught in those beautiful in-between hours when the adrenaline for starting another sustainable journey kicks in and the complete exhaustion that I knew was going to set in during the late afternoon.

Well, I certainly made the best of those beautiful hours thanks to the help of Carina Mount Charles at Rock Farm Slane!

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  • Mary Mulvey
    Mary Mulvey says #
    Glad you got to experience one our our Gold members , a really great natural experience and all aspects of sustainabilty covered f

View of Dubrovnik from FortressDubrovnik, Croatia is high on many people's travel bucket lists – and with good reason!

When our family traveled there this summer, I was awestruck by this beautiful coastal city from the moment we first walked through Pile Gate into the Old Town.  The sound of the birds, the lively chatter of families strolling along the Straden, and the lack of advertisements and restaurant hawking were apparent.

I also was immediately struck with the idea that Dubrovnik was completely different from any other southern European city we've visited because of its compact layout, focus on local products and provision of numerous family-friendly activities.

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  • Mike
    Mike says #
    Hydro Nano Gas could be the Answer for Neutralizing Carbon Fuel Emissions Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish clean tech co

Travel SkillsI'm of the belief that children need to start traveling while they are still young. The mere act of going to a place that is unfamiliar in terms of landscape, food, culture, history and maybe even language encourages children to develop organizational skills, a sense of independence and greater responsibility.

This was put to the test this summer when, armed with one rollaway bag and two backpacks, my 9-year-old son and I went on a seven week trip through four countries: Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Scotland.

GreeceSwimmingWith almost 10,000 miles of coastline and 6,000 islands to swim, snorkel and sunbathe the days away, you may find it hard to narrow down your vacation options when traveling to Greece.  In my opinion, Athens is a must for the first-time visitor to Greece.  

Seeing the Acropolis, having a fresh fish meal beside the sea, visiting the Panathenaic Stadium (site of the first modern Olympic Games), learning about local turtle rescue center's conservation efforts, listening (and dancing) to bouzouki music, bargaining with the Plaka shopowners - it's all part of the fun of Athenian life!  

But, when the crowded city gets a bit too stifling and you want to take a break that's not far and car free, the island of Hydra is a great green getaway choice for the entire family.

Kenya mainDrinking a glass of water is something most of us take for granted, but more than 750 million people around the world still do not have access to safe water. Through ClimateCare, we are helping to address this, by supporting the award winning LifeStraw Carbon for Water project in Kenya.

A partnership between ClimateCare and global health company Vestergaard allows for this project to cut carbon emissions and provides safe water to over 4.5 million people in Kenya.

Certified Sustainable TravelIt may seem like a new phenomenon, but the concept of ecotourism has been around for more than 200 years when Alexander von Humboldt and botanist Aimé Bonpland traveled across Central and South America.

Since then, eco-conscious explorers have endeavored to support ecotourism that incorporates the values of S.E.E. (namely social empowerment, economic viability and environmental responsibility) and positively impact communities.

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  • Rajmati sah
    Rajmati sah says #
    Thanks for the My India tourism blog spot... .... and very nice news . I have read complete blog My India tourism Visit Also Here
  • Environmental Education
    Environmental Education says #
    Interesting. I never knew ecotourism had such a long history. Though the voyage of the Beagle would have been more for scientifi

Finding Love While TravelingWhen my husband and I first met – almost 18 years ago – he didn't even have a passport. He had traveled to Canada and Mexico of course, but back then, one only needed a valid U.S. driver's license to cross the border back into the United States.

This may have sated him, but given my frequent inclination to travel overseas, I plainly declared a couple of months into the relationship, "If you want this to work, you're going to need to get a passport."

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  • Andy Townsend
    Andy Townsend says #
    Travelling has always been my one true love, does that count? Anyway, when you travel you expose yourself to different cultures, I

Posted by on in Eco Travel Tips

Turkey resizeNot sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way - maybe between the marketing of hemp clothing and natural cleaning products - the concept of a having green lifestyle became a bit, dare I say, boring. Fortunately, this is not the case with green travel.

While there are many meaningful and unique travel experiences to choose from that also happen to benefit communities socially, economically and environmentally, some of these voyages are downright extreme! Here's a few that will get your heart-pumping!

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  • Alina Litovchenko
    Alina Litovchenko says #
    Amazing combination
    When I have read this article I was amazingly surprised how easily we could combine two of the most preferable activities, which a
  • Vanessa @ Green Global Travel
    Vanessa @ Green Global Travel says #
    When a green lifestyle becomes boring? I have to admit that's a little hilarious. Though, I'll keep these suggestions in mind for

1-night-RaftI am fortunate to live in an area of Northern Virginia near the Potomac Gorge, which is a wilderness expanse with over 240 species of animals (including frogs, toads, foxes, raccoons, deer, possums, etc.) and where many migratory birds spend part of their year.

With its beautiful American elm, ironwood and redwood trees as well as many walking and biking paths that connect up to an extensive network of trails throughout the Washington DC area, it's no wonder why visitors are amazed at the expanse of mature trees and quiet solitude found so close to the city.

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  • Greenloons
    Greenloons says #
    Wilderness has value in its diversity of living things; from the smallest to the largest; from the clean air to clean water; from

Posted by on in Greenloons

The Writing ProcessI've never considered myself a bona fide writer. In fact, all the way through college and my corporate career, I would have much preferred speaking in front of hundreds of people rather than writing an essay or term paper.

That sentiment changed for me five years ago though, when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer and suddenly realized that writing was a way to channel my hopes, fears, frustrations, anger, and revelations.

Ironically, while I can recall talking about my dreams and aspirations – and even presenting a life plan - from the time I was 10 years old, I didn't really discover my true passions and innate gifts until I started writing in earnest.

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  • caren
    caren says #
    Irene, Such fascinating series you're working on, especially "eyes of the child." Interesting learning about your evolution from s
  • Ellen Barone
    Ellen Barone says #
    Hi Irene, I loved learning more about your writing projects, plans and evolving passions. Thanks for sharing. It's fortunate th

It's amazing how travel can inspire that moment of clarity for a young child where s/he understands a bit more about their world! That's what happened to our son during a recent trip to Rome, Italy when he suddenly realized the technical contributions made by the Romans (and Greeks).

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One of the bona fide signs of spring in the Washington DC area is the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  Commemorating this lovely gift from Japan, there are art shows, concerts, tea and sake tastings, bike tours, cruises, food tours and photo safaris – and along with that, there's traffic!  Lots and lots of traffic! For proactive green travelers heading to the festival, here's how you can lower your impact.

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  • bencep
    bencep says #
    Very inspiring travel blog. You got unique idea of giving tips. Looking forward on your next post.

Blizzard Wikipedia CommonsIt's been quite a winter! Last week alone saw a huge ice storm in the southeastern US, impressive snowstorms elsewhere in the country, a rare heavy snowfall in Tokyo, and in London, after the wettest January on record since 1766, the Thames River burst its banks causing massive flooding throughout the region. Here's what you can do if you're faced with weather disruptions during your vacation.

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  • bencep
    bencep says #
    Thanks for the tips Irene. I should secure a travel insurance just in case.

No doubt, you've seen interesting and wonderful photos of the Himba women of Namibia.  Their skin and hair that are completely covered in a reddish hue, the lack of clothing apart from a loin cloth, and their beautifully braided hair covered in ash and jewelry intended to convey social status. 

It's enough to make my head spin with anticipation! Today, more than half the world's population lives in cities and they are projected to add 274,000 people every day for the next 30 years.

According to organizations like the Earth Day Network (which is making Green Cities its Earth Day theme for 2014) and World Resources Institute (labeling Green Cities as one of the stories to watch for 2014), the real opportunity may be for cities to improve energy efficiency, invest in renewable energy, and implement green building practices.  In effect, large urban populations could serve as the perfect proving ground for technologies that dramatically increase air and water quality as well as expand green schools, public transport options, farmer's markets, and green spaces – perhaps even increasing the development of green vacation packages.

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  • Bob
    Bob says #
    I would love to go to Iceland, not for the green though, I want the white!

There are various times throughout the year when I make a conscious decision to unplug from the world and, instead, reconnect with myself and my natural surroundings. Ultimately, while I do feel balanced, once I endeavor to rejoin the greater world again, I also realize that I missed some interesting news stories along the way. One such story occurred last summer while I was in Greece. The story was about a traveler's touching moment with a polar bear who was trying to push away a cruise ship from its Arctic homeland.

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  • Rona
    Rona says #
    Great article .

Last year, our family traveled to Namibia with 600 other intrepid travelers for the annual Adventure Travel World Summit.  Given Namibia's recent nod by the New York Times, as number 6 of the 52 Places to Go in 2014, we were not disappointed at all when witnessing amazing wildlife in the Kalahari Desert, staying in phenomenal lodges in Namib Desert, and learning about communal conservancies.  By the same token though, we could not understand why, at every turn, tiny 8 ounce water bottles were distributed (and wasted), rather than the option to refill our reusable water containers with fresh water.

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  • Clare Hancock
    Clare Hancock says #
    Thank you for posting about this experience. We are big fans of Travelers Against Plastic and we jump at every chance to spread th

Earlier this year, our young son proclaimed to my husband and me that he knew we were Santa Claus. Gone for good were the days of writing letters to Santa, phone calls to Santa if he was behaving badly, discretely hiding presents in various closets, and laying out cookies and milk on the 'Big Night'.

While a part of me was crushed that he had lost a bit of innocence, I felt compelled to introduce more simple Christmas traditions – ones that would negate the need for far too many presents and instead evoke relaxed family memories. The idea was visit the Christmas Markets of Munich, Salzburg and Vienna and even though it had been more than 35 years since I had been to these markets, for me, they were the same as I had remembered.

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