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Welcome to the Greenloons Blog, your go-to ecotourism / sustainable / responsible (or whatever term you feel comfortable with) travel resource. Here, you will find eco travel destination profiles, environmentally friendly travel tips, ecotourism certification information, eco trip reviews and much more! Read, share and let us know your thoughts about ecotourism!

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Green River Whitewater RaftingLast month, I, along with my 11 year old son and some other family members, embarked on a multi-day whitewater rafting and camping adventure along the Green River that connects Colorado and Utah.  

We considered ourselves to be relatively experienced for this trip given that I had participated in two days of whitewater rafting on the Pacure River in Costa Rica (Class III-IV) and rafted in the state of Veracruz in Mexico (Class III), my son had enrolled in a couple of day rafting trips around the Washington, DC area (Class II), and another family member obtained her whitewater rafting certification, as a young adult.  

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  • Sarah Smith
    Sarah Smith says #
    Thanks
    My family wants to plan a rafting trip. Thanks for the advice about how you should make sure you know the signals and practice the

Ambassador for the EnvironmentA few months ago, for our Spring Break, our family traveled to the Hawaiian island of Maui.  We chose Maui for a few reasons including the chance to experience Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, which is affiliated with three of Ritz-Carlton's Resorts (Maui, Grand Cayman, and Puerto Rico), and to better understand how the programs were affecting local communities, ocean conservation efforts, and of course children's understanding (and interest) in environmental issues.

Although we signed up for the Whale Watch excursion as a family, it was cancelled due to rough seas. However, our son did have the chance to participate in the Survivor program.

Horse BlogWhile I know my son was having a wonderful time at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I was still so glad to be able to have this extended road trip with my daughter.

During part one of this two-part series, I talked about our adventures from Georgia up to New Hampshire. Now, at the half way point of the trip, appropriately spent riding a zip line over the Pemigewassett River and then taking a gondola up the White Mountains to explore some granite caves, we now had to continue back home.

After my son's visitation day, my daughter and I explored D Acres a bit more. We took a dip in the swimming hole, rode our bikes to some surrounding farms to visit some goats and a friendly horse, and hung out in the open-air "Summer Kitchen".

AirBnB Inspired Road TripAs my son was packing up for another season at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I realized I had to do something to make these weeks special for my daughter too. So what better than a grand road trip!

My daughter and I love animals and have been especially interested in raising chickens after our town passed legislation allowing them to be kept locally. My daughter even began lobbying school administrators to create a kind of 4-H club for some students to raise a few hatched chicks.

So, creating a trip to visit chickens along our route seemed like a natural theme for our adventure!

Approach to Ferry Port on Car Free Mackinac IslandThe more I travel, the more I appreciate, downright relish, the unhurried feeling of a pedestrian zone, where locals and visitors alike can only traverse by foot or bicycle (or maybe by an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage).

One can usually find a pedestrian zone within an historic center, such as we did in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Krakow (Poland) or within a national park, such as Maria Island in Tasmania (Australia).

However, lately, I've started to gravitate toward car-free islands where it is downright acceptable to slow down, meander through roadways and scenic areas, think, and even strike up a conversation with a passer-by or two.

Lumnishenca Wikipedia CommonsAfter what seemed to be an endless Washington DC winter filled with errant snow storms, sleet and frigid weather, our family realized that we desperately needed to experience the rejuvenating warmth of a sun, sand, and sea vacation.

So began the research to find a relatively uncrowded Caribbean island that would also fulfill our need for eco-adventure.

Eventually, we settled on St. Croix and although I was a little apprehensive about the traveler warnings for getting a mosquito-borne disease (Dengue and Chikungunya had been spreading for months), ultimately we were pleasantly surprised with St. Croix's vistas, quirky history, beautiful beaches, and hospitality – and I haven't yet even mentioned the great kayaking!

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  • Malha
    Malha says #
    Bioluminescent and Ecotourism ...
    Hello, i am student currently studying in Tourism and undergoing 'ecotourism' as a subject. I found the blog interesting as i come
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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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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It was our family's first trip to Africa last month, but after just a few days of traveling through Southern Namibia, we quickly realized that it would not be our last to this amazing continent. We simply fell in love with the spectacle of color (all shades of our son's favorite color red), wildlife, culture and song. While this one minute video does not do the country true justice, it features our experience through the southern regions of the Kalahari Desert, Fish River Canyon, Aus and Namib Desert.

Quite often, I am asked to describe the typical Greenloons travel experience with respect to how our trips promote sustainability for communities, the environment and for travelers. It's always a pleasure for me to give examples, and the latest is no exception.

It’s that time of year where thoughts turn to summer camps, festivals and vacations.

Summertime has always been a great occasion for families to relax, reconnect and (re)discover historical sites, cultural traditions and natural wonders. Fortunately, the United States has a wide variety of nature and wildlife focused activities that spotlight the country’s diversity of flora and fauna.

Posted by on in Ecotourism Trip Reviews

It's always wonderful to visit family in Florida, but there is only so many theme parks one can explore before it becomes tiresome - for the adults and kids. That was why this Holiday Season, I decided to change things up and treat the entire family (ranging in ages from seven to 67 years young) to a kayaking trip through Everglades National Park. Throughout the entire four-hour experience, my seven-year-old son kept mouthing the word "sweet!", indicating that he was having a blast.

There’s an abundance of quality travel guides available, but none that focus on engaging elementary school students who want to learn some kid green travel tips for the foreign country they are visiting with their family. Therefore, Greenloons has developed a green informational guide to Costa Rica designed for children in elementary school.

Our ecotourism conservation spotlight continues with a profile of Ecoventura, a certified sustainable tour operator in the Galapagos Islands and its pledge to sponsor 12 local student scholarships for one Ecology Project International course to study conservation and ecology-related issues.

I had an opportunity to post some questions about this amazing program to Doris Welsh, Director of Sales & Marketing at Ecoventura and Ana Maria Loose, Director of Galapagos Ecology Projects at Ecology Project International. First, watch this video to learn a bit more about Ecology Project International.

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  • Christine Tibbetts
    Christine Tibbetts says #
    Exciting project----I always appreciate building the next wave of wonders by involving kids in travel and sustainability. Thank yo

Like many of us during this time of year, I love taking the time to reflect on how well my plans compared to reality, and, more importantly, how grateful I am for the little surprises that came along the way in 2011. One such surprise was during our family trip to the small Aegean island of Alonissos, Greece.

If you are like me, you enjoy purchasing children’s gifts that inspire, educate and delight! If you are also running short on time to buy those last minute Holiday gifts like me, here are some suggestions for Holiday gifts that help children appreciate the wonders of renewable energy resources as well as the flora and fauna around them.

Posted by on in Eco Travel Tips

It is never too early to teach children about the wonders of nature. In honor of the back to school season, here are my recommendations for kid’s travel books that focus on environmental issues in an informative, yet empowering manner.

Bar Harbor, Maine has the distinction of being the second most popular outdoor adventure area in the United States (behind Yellowstone National Park). And, it is easy to understand why as this is the area where the Atlantic Ocean meets the mountains of scenic Acadia National Park.

Located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, Bar Harbor offers families a low-key eco-travel adventure, and during the fall foliage season, it puts on a spectacular show of colors! In and around Bar Harbor, there are many miles of shoreline to explore, 125 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage trails. In addition, there is a wide variety of ranger-led programs that will introduce your family to Acadia's diverse natural and cultural history.

As new parents back in 2005, we naively decided to take our 7 month old across ten time zones for his first Christmas. My husband and I were just itching to go on a trip since we had been homebound for more than a year (between the pregnancy and the now the early infant months) and we foolishly thought "the baby is sleeping all the time – what difference does it make where he sleeps!"

Well, we were wrong, very wrong. It was during this trip that our cherub turned into an entirely different baby – and we learned the true meaning of surviving baby jetlag. Now that he's six (and we still drag him across many time zones), we have picked up a few tricks along the way for de-stressing and managing jetlag.

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