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10 Great Ways to Green Your Next Vacation

10 Great Ways to Green Your Next Vacation

When you take a vacation, it’s a reprieve from work and everything that stresses you out. But it’s not a break for the Earth. Unfortunately, the tourism industry has the side-effect of stressing our climate.

It’s important for tourists to understand they’re not the only ones traveling, and tourism is a huge source of pollution. In 2005, tourism was responsible for 5 percent of global emissions, 40 percent of which stemmed from air travel, 32 percent from cars, and 21 percent from accommodations.

Thankfully, tourists are becoming more environmentally-conscious. There are movements such as ecotourism. Ecotourism puts a premium on destinations seeking to sustain the environment, and efforts at sustainability in tourism.

Are you going to travel this year? Do you want to decrease your carbon footprint and promote ecotourism? Try greening your trip with the following activities.

1. Mountain Bike Going-to-the-Sun Road

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goingsunroad

    2016 is the centennial birthday of the National Park Service. Our National Parks seek to conserve natural habitats. At Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Road presents a perfect opportunity to celebrate the centennial while taking a green approach. Going-to-the-Sun road spans the width of the park. It includes plenty of places to camp, as well as Lake McDonald Lodge, where you can stay if you’re looking for comfort. For however long you want to bike, there are attractions along the road, and you’ll be conserving fuel. Climate change scientists estimate the glaciers will be gone by 2030. You’ll be doing your part at conservation by biking instead of driving.

    2. Stay at a Costa Rican Ecolodge

    costarica

      Costa Rica has tons of national parks and wildlife refuges. While you’re visiting sites that promote conservation, stay at one of the many ecolodges and hotels committed to sustainability. While staying at Nacientes Palmichal Lodge in the Central Valley, learn how to make tortillas, or visit an organic farm and find out how they use biodigestors to create gas for cooking.

      3. Go Bird Watching in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park

      tui

        New Zealand is full of rare and endangered bird species. At Tongariro National Park, you can watch beautiful species such as the endangered Kiwi, the mischievous Kea, and the singing Tui. Here, you’ll find guided bird-watching tours with naturalists, and sanctuaries dedicated to keeping these beauties alive. Many of the birds are exotic and unique to New Zealand.

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        4. Geocache Petrified Forest National Park

        Petrified

          Geocaching is the combination of hiking, mountaineering, treasure hunting, and GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. The sport was invented by Oregonian Dave Ulmer at the turn of the century. The National Park Service sponsors Geocaching at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The activity is free—all you need is a GPS. You’ll learn about major geological resources. You’ll also get to learn about the Historic Route 66 Geocaching Project. Since the Park runs this activity, it’s an eco-friendly form of geocaching.

          5. Do Denali Backcountry Yoga  

          Denali2

            The Denali Backcountry Lodge is located deep in the heart of Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. This National Park the home of North America’s tallest peak, Mt. Denali, which stands at 20,310 feet. This area is not open to private vehicles. You have to take a bus from the Denali Cabins to get there. One of the activities you can do is yoga. There are morning and afternoon classes in the wilderness. You won’t need to take a car to get to the class, nor will you be able to. And, taking a bus to the back country is like carpooling to the vacation spot.

            6. Dive with the East Africa Whale Shark Trust

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            whaleshark

              Kenya is one of the top ecotourism destinations. The East Africa Whale Shark Trust is a scientific organization in Kenya seeking to preserve the population of Whale Sharks, or “papa shillingi”. Each year, they organize snorkeling and diving between February and April. This gives tourists the chance to see the tagging and documentation process, through which the Trust collects data in order to protect the Whale Shark. The diving and snorkeling trips help raise awareness and benefit the organization’s mission. You can also volunteer to help and get a view from the inside.

              7. Shop Farmer’s Markets on Hawaii’s Big Island

              hawaii

                This is a great way to contribute directly to the sustainability efforts of Hawaii’s local farms. There are a plethora of farmer’s markets dotting the Big Island, where you can buy exotic local produce and eat a plate lunch simmering with teriyaki steak, chicken katsu, rice, and salad. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried papaya fresh from the farm. You can also find artwork and hand-crafted goods you’d expect at the best farmer’s markets.

                8. Volunteer in Kerala, India

                kerala

                  Kerala is a fabulous Indian state on the tropical coast of Malabar. Lush forests, clean beaches, and attractions such as Rajamala National Park make this “God’s Own Country”, a tourist destination with extremely high recall. A great way to be not just another tourist is by volunteering through the Rainbow VolunTours program. You can help coach sports at the Kerala or Kolkata orphanages, or if you’re more the teaching type, there’s a teaching option, too. Rainbow VolunTours can also take you to Mozambique, where you’ll help with marine conservation efforts.

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                  9. Hike the Fjords

                  fjord

                    Norway’s Fjords are U-shaped valley waterways that were formed by glaciers millions of years ago. Norway has made sure to maintain strict environmental regulations to protect the purity of these crystalline waterways. Hiking or biking the mountains surrounding the fjords is the most eco-friendly way to support Norway’s admirable sustainability efforts.

                    10. Ride a Horse through Yellowstone

                    Horseback_riding_Shoshone_National_Forest

                      Talk about a way to connect with the West. Horseback riding Yellowstone is the traditional way to see the back country of America’s first National Park. You won’t hear any motors as you hoof it by Lost Canyon and over Lost Creek to the Old West Dinner Cookout. Horseback riding is a sure-fire way to support sustainability in the area. Just make sure to pack your trash out in your saddle bag.

                      Featured photo credit: Peter Gronemann/Taman Negara (Malaysian National Park) via flickr.com

                      More by this author

                      Daniel Matthews, CPRP

                      Daniel Matthews is a Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner and freelance writer with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                      1. Breathe

                      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                      2. Loosen up

                      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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                      3. Chew slowly

                      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                      4. Let go

                      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                      It’s not. Promise.

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                      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                      5. Enjoy the journey

                      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                      6. Look at the big picture

                      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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                      Will this matter to me…

                      • Next week?
                      • Next month?
                      • Next year?
                      • In 10 years?

                      Hint: No, it won’t.

                      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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                      8. Practice patience every day

                      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                      Final thoughts

                      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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