winery eco-friendly travel voluntour A\J AlternativesJournal.ca Photo © Udo Kruse \ Fotolia.com

Travel has the power to open our minds and deepen our appreciation of the world we live in. As we explore, it’s up to us to travel responsibly and tread lightly on the earth. You can make greener choices on your travels, and even have a positive impact that will last well beyond your week of bliss. Here are five ideas for your next green getaway:

Voluntour

Combine your love of travel with philanthropy by taking part in the ever-growing “voluntourism” movement. Imagine contributing – in a very tangible way – to the community, wildlife and environment you visit. The opportunities are endless. Protect sea turtles in Costa Ricastudy climate change in Antarcticasurvey coral reefs on a tropical island, or join a Me to We trip and help an impoverished community. We promise you’ll gain new perspective and make the world a better place.

Take part now by sharing your idea to change the world with the G Project and earn a trip to Costa Rica and $25,000 towards making your idea a reality.

Go camping

The great outdoors beckon. If you’re yearning for both solitude and scenic splendour, pitch a tent! Explore Canada’s natural landscapes, close to home or on the other side of the country. Bonus: outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking and swimming are all delightfully carbon neutral. Find a Canadian National Park, and for tips on camping responsibly, check out Canadian non-profit Leave No Trace.

Go WWOOFing

Short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, WWOOFing is your ticket to an unforgettable farming experience. The program was founded in England in 1971. Volunteers work on an organic farm in exchange for room, board and farming advice. WWOOFers have given thousands of hours of assistance to organic growers, and WWOOF hosts have given their time and experience to WWOOFers in over 50 countries.

Adventure travel

Have an appetite for adventure? Check out the National Outdoor Leadership School to learn skills such as mountaineering, climbing or backpacking. Many companies offer small-group tours to destinations around the globe. We love G Adventures and Natural Habitat Adventures. For more options, use the directories of The International Ecotourism Society and Sustainable Travel International. (While you’re there, read the organization’s tips to evaluate responsible tour companies).

Have a staycation

Explore your own backyard. Not only is it less stressful than going abroad, but you’ll support your local economy, enjoy places and activities you’re usually too busy to appreciate, and save money on transportation. Ideas for local thrills: give your taste buds a trip (visit farmers’ markets, try an organic or vegetarian restaurant, or embark on a culinary adventure like the Niagara Wine Trail); visit a National Park, beach or lake (look for Blue Flag certification); or start that garden project you’ve been meaning to get to. Start by reading RONA’s eco-responsible landscaping tips.

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