According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, 71% of travelers vowed to lighten their vacation's carbon footprint in the coming year. But what does this mean to most people? Just choosing a hotel that won't wash your linens is barely lifting a pinky yet alone a green thumb. If you really care about the environment, you'll go on a CO2 diet and pass on gas on your next getaway.
In search of some new car-free travel tips, I met up with Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor, Emmy award-winning producer and author of Like a Local Michelin guides.
Here is his advice on how to be more responsible on (or rather off) the road.
What is responsible travel?
"The key to great travel is to think globally but act locally. That's the spirit of these [Like a Local] books. Talk with the people who actually live in these destinations, these communities, these neighborhoods. Allow yourself the ability to immerse yourself in the culture, live outside your initial comfort zone, and then ... in many destinations, responsible travel means following the money. Make sure that what you spend actually goes back into the community to help preserve its culture, educate its people, maintain or improve its environment."
What has been your all-time favorite adventure by bike?
"My best biking adventures are in Switzerland, around St. Moritz. You can rent special electric power assist bicycles that really help you get up the steep hills, and then, of course, you can't beat the air or the views."
"Train ... one of my all time favorite travel modes. So many to choose from: The Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth, the Trans Siberian from Beijing to Germany. And one that might surprise you: the Southern Crescent, from Washington D.C. to New Orleans."
"As for boat adventures, I live on a boat, so I've been spoiled. But the best cruises are the ones hugging the Chinese coast, the South American Riviera and the smaller ships that go to small Alaskan ports."
What are your deciding factors when choosing which destination to travel to next?
"Accessibility more than affordability, value more than price and experience more than destination."
What is the best piece of travel advice someone ever gave you?
"Never take a 'no' from someone who is not empowered to give you a 'yes' in the first place."
When will "green" travel become second nature for people?
"As soon as the term stops getting misused or in some cases as soon as the term stops being misleading ... people need to be able to connect the dots, to understand what it means not to wash a hotel towel or conserve energy. Just putting a small plastic card on the bedspread -- giving travelers a choice of whether or not to wash a towel -- is a joke. The travel industry needs to gently involve travelers in the back of the house, in the process. And that's when the understanding kicks in. If you can't appreciate the process, how can you ever value the product?"
Follow Lauren Elyse Matison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/offMetroNY