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February 13, 2014

Thinking Green While on Vacation: 8 Tips on Eco-Travel

My husband and I have made it a tradition to use our annual family vacation not only a time to have fun and bond, but to teach our children about our impact on the environment and the importance of giving back. This year, with both children officially teenagers, we really wanted to do something special. After a bit of planning and saving, we set out for our first international family trip, an “off-the-beaten path, full-blown eco-adventure in Costa Rica.

Our first stop was at Costa Rica’s Ballena (Whale) Marine National Park. We wanted to carve out some time to volunteer at the park as a way to give back and support the country’s park system. The park ranger was very pleased with our gesture and told us to return in two days to help out.

Upon our return to the park, I was amusingly speechless when I learned what our project would be: creating English and Spanish stencils for their trash, recycling and compost containers in the park. How serendipitous – without even knowing that I worked for Waste Management, the ranger picked the perfect service project for our family!

We spent the morning under the watchful eyes of group of capuchin monkeys while completing our tasks. The rangers were very appreciative, and we felt great about being help to support the amazing work they do every day. We spent the afternoon boogie boarding on the protected beach in the park, soaking up the sun, watching the wildlife and admiring our recent work. It was “Pura Vida” (pure life),as they would say in Costa Rica.

Tips for Thinking Green While on Vacation:

· Do a Little Research: Popular travel sites offer just about any advice for just about any place you want to visit, including ideas and information about eco-tourism, environmentally friendly lodging and activities. Other sites such as,, offer great tips and ideas on how to travel in an ethical and sustainable way. Find a few things on these sites that suit your style, but won’t cramp it.