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Summer’s travel season is here, and there are several ways to reduce carbon footprints while still planning a fun vacation. Begin with luggage. Patagonia’s Freewheeler rolling duffel bag is made with recycled polyester and holds a week’s worth of clothing with a separate compartment for footwear. Check it out at Patagonia.com. The Ecolution Exploration Bag is a duffel made from organic hemp. Other eco-friendly options for travel gear are available at luggage.com and greenearthmarket.com. It is also a good idea to check local luggage retailers to see if they carry green luggage.

When booking hotel, resort, inn or bed and breakfast accommodations, a visit to the “Green” Hotels Association website (greenhotels.com) can save time. At Pamela Lanier’s Bed and Breakfast Inns website (lanierbb.com) choose the “green” amenity to search for lodging. The site also suggests a few green travel tips:

1. Keep showers short, and shut off the water while brushing teeth.

2. When leaving the room, turn off the air conditioning, lights and any other electric devices.

3. Bring toiletries. When using the provided toiletries, take the leftovers to use at home or during the rest of the trip to reduce waste.

4. Give feedback to the bed and breakfast host. Express appreciation for any green programs offered.

If planning an eco tour, visit the EcoTour Directory website (ecotourdirectory.com) for one-stop shopping. Eco tours listed by continent or region and then broken out into countries can be found there. Another good resource is G.A.P. Adventures (the Great Adventure People). Go to their Web site (gapadventures.com) for information organized by continent, country, activities, duration and more. The Sierra Club Outings, the Nature Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation are a few more of the not-for-profit groups that organize nature trips.

At the IndependentTraveler.com website there is a “Go Green Travel Center” with many resources to help plan a greener vacation. One of the easiest ways to travel green is to choose the train as a mode of transportation.

            Amtrak has regional routes throughout the country, serving the Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, West and California. For example, a round-trip fare on the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles is $281 (coach). If planning a rail vacation, visit Amtrak.com.

 Planetgreen.discovery.com has a few more tips for long-distance train travel:

1. Pack food, as options in the dining car can be expensive and unhealthy.

2. Wear comfortable clothing.

3. Get some exercise by walking around.

4. For entertainment bring books, an iPod or laptop; the scenery can be spectacular but hard to see after nightfall.

5. Bring a blanket and pillow. If the train is not full, a passenger can use an entire row of seats to sleep. Bedroom accommodations can add $500 or more to the fare.

6. Bring cash, as the train may not accept credit cards and there are no ATMs on board.

If time constraints require vacation travel by airplane or automobile, visit independenttraveler.com and search for carbon offset companies. Of course, with the present state of the U.S. economy, opting for a staycation could be a good idea.

Contact Eco Gal at ecogal247@yahoo.com or info@evanstonroundtable.com.