My wife and I want to celebrate our 25th anniversary by taking a significant trip. We are thinking of a 10-day European vacation, possibly the Greek islands. I am conflicted by my dedication to celebrating this milestone and my dedication to living eco-friendly. What advice would you have for those wanting to travel while limiting their impact on the environment? Realistically, if I hope to enjoy another 25 years of marriage, I may have to budge on this a little.
If you wanted to take a Love Boat cruise, that’s one thing, but I don’t see any big trouble with visiting the Greek islands. All you have to do is get to Greece. Once you’re there, you can travel around as if you were ecologically minded locals.
Getting to Europe will mean flying, and I think you should buy green tags to compensate for your mileage. A little refresher on this idea: alternative-energy production can be divided into two commodities, the power itself and the ecological benefits. (We can think of this as the corollary to the yet-to-be-implemented idea that the true long-term costs of fossil fuels should be included in energy prices.) With green tags, you buy the ecological benefits as a way to offset your fossil-fuel use and, practically, to support green power production. Alternatively, you could simply donate what you judge to be the correct amount of cash to the environmental group of your choice.
Once you get to Greece, use public transportation. Do not rent a car, do not rent a scooter, do not fly within the country. Plan your trip using buses, trains, ferries, bicycles, and your feet. This may raise a fear that you will not “see Greece” — that is, that you will not be able to check off 10 famous sites during your 10 days. But what would we say to two Vermont tourists who felt the need to drive to a new quaint town every day? They would miss anything about daily Vermont life, their pace would eliminate the possibility of spontaneous experience, and I don’t think they would relax.
Wherever you go, the key is to pick an area that contains several of your interests in proximity to one another. In Greece, let’s say a few historic sites, a beach, an excellent pastry shop. Or two nice islands within ferry shot of one another, both with whitewashed houses and one with a fabulous ruin. Another idea would be to search for eco-vacation or ecotourism or eco-holiday in Greece or other countries you’re interested in, and see what turns up.