Creative Ways to Share Travel Your Photos

great ways to share your photos

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Creative ways to share travel photos – I brought my DSLR and point-and-shoot camera on vacation and took lots of great shots.

Even after a short trip, I end up with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of photos.

I’m always looking for new ways to share them with my friends and family without completely overwhelming and boring them.

Who wants to look at 300 photos of an elephant?

Don’t let your travel photos perish in purgatory on your external hard drive.

Do something practical and fun with them instead.

Here are 7 creative ways to share travel photos

Best Ways to Share Travel Photos

Make photo books

There are dozens of companies that offer photo books.

These digital scrapbooks are great and affordable ways to share your travel photos.

You can customize them as much as you want.

Ranging from just dropping your photos into the templates or creating designs in Photoshop and importing them.

Companies like Shutterfly have great promotions and coupon codes when you join their mailing list.

You can even create the book and wait until you get a coupon code to print.

For online coupons, you should visit ChameleonJohn.com.

They have coupons and deals for lots of online retailers.

Creative ways to share travel photos
Creative ways to share travel photos

Create a gallery wall

If you’re looking for a way to display travel photos in your home, a gallery wall is a great way to show off some of your favorite photos.

Websites like Pinterest and Apartment Therapy offer creative ideas for layout and composition.

Whether you use black and white or color photos, this can be a fantastic way to share some of your favorite memories with guests when they come to your home.

Creative ways to share your travel photos
Creative ways to share your travel photos

Use Instagram

Sometimes the most memorable travel moments happen when you don’t have your camera with you.

Instagram is a fun way to share travel photos taken on your smart phone with your online community, and it has a chance to increase Instagram followers.

One of the great things about Instagram is that you can instantly share it with Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and even via email—all at once.

Share your Travel Photos on Instagram
Share your Travel Photos on Instagram

Get crafty

Between Pinterest and all of the DIY blogs, you can find great ideas online for how to show-off your photos around your home or office.

Whether it’s using mod podge to put photos on canvas or creating customized coasters, there are endless fun and creative ways to display your travel photos.

Check out Flickr

While there are plenty of photo sharing sites, Flickr is my personal favorite.

A free account has limited storage, and a pro account charges an annual fee for unlimited storage.

This is a great way to backup photos, but also to share them with your friends and family.

backup your Travel Photos
backup your Travel Photos

Make personalized gifts

We’ve taken some of our favorite photos and used them for gifts for friends and family.

Some we’ve had printed and framed.

After traveling through Africa for a few months last year, we made calendars for our parents.

Whether it’s a photo on a mug or photo printed and framed, your travel photography can make great gifts.

Share Travel Photos

Create a best-of album

When you start going through your photos after a trip, make sure you put a handful of your favorites in a folder for easy access.

Your best-of album makes it easy to find photos when you want to remember your travels.

What do you do you with your travel photos?

What are some of your creative ways to share them?

Start Your Nature Photography Journey

Are you a green traveler who’s passionate about exploring new cultures, as well as nature and wildlife in exotic locations?

Consider preserving memories of your travels through photography.

By using a digital camera during your trips, you can discover new features, textures, and colors in the natural environment.

However, if you’ve never tried your hand at nature photography (an umbrella term that includes wildlife and landscape photography), you may feel overwhelmed by the different cameras and lenses that are available.

You may also be completely clueless when it comes to choosing your subjects and crafting your first photos.

Just as importantly, you may worry that your first venture into nature photography might harm the wildlife and natural areas you’ll be exploring.

Read on and you’ll soon be armed with the know-how and confidence to tackle nature photography like a boss.

Capturing the Beauty of the Natural World

Nature photography is all about capturing the beauty and grandeur of the natural world—landscapes, wildlife, and plants or close-ups of textures, scenery, and wildlife.

Unlike other photography genres (like documentary photography), nature photography places greater emphasis on the aesthetic value of the photographs.
Ethical Nature and Wildlife Photography
As a result, many nature photographs have marked artistic and painterly qualities such as intense colors, unusual contrasts between light and shadow, and other creative enhancements.

This maxim is best expressed by Ansel Adams, who said that “beauty comes first” in his images.

Ethical Nature and Wildlife Photography

Of particular concern to green travelers is the ethical aspect of nature and wildlife photography.

While photographers should be free to explore themes and subjects that inspire their creativity, they should also avoid causing any harm to the animals, plants, and natural areas they photograph.

As some photographers are prepared to do almost anything to get the shots they want, conservation groups and photography associations have published a number of codes of conduct for wildlife photographers.

Listed here are the key points to remember when photographing wildlife:

  • Always photograph the animals from a safe and respectful distance.
  • If the animal shows any signs of stress, move further back or leave the scene altogether.
  • Be patient when photographing animals and never force an animal to do something.
  • Never encroach on nests or dens during breeding season.
  • Always treat the animals and their natural habitat with utmost respect.
  • Respect local cultures and customs.
  • When baiting wildlife, use only organic food that’s part of the animals’ natural diet, and avoid baiting animals that are potentially dangerous.

As for photographing the natural environment, common sense rules prevail.

Nature photographers should avoid polluting and littering the natural environment, and stay on trails that are forged to lessen impact on fragile ecosystems.

The Best Entry-Level DSLRs for Amateur Nature Photographers

While it’s acceptable to begin your nature photography journey with a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera, these cameras offer limited functionality and lesser technical image quality.

If you want to fully realize your creativity and capture professional grade images, then consider investing in an entry-level DSLR.

Entry-level DSLRs have simpler user interfaces with a greater emphasis on automation.

Aside from being easier to learn than the more complicated mid-level and pro-level DSLRs, they’re also more affordable than their upmarket counterparts.

Unlike point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs offer larger, sturdier camera bodies and interchangeable lenses.

With interchangeable lenses, nature photographers can switch to telephoto zoom lenses when photographing wildlife from a distance and macro lenses when taking close-ups of insects, tree barks, and other subjects.

Great entry-level DSLRs for amateur nature photographers include the Canon Rebel T6i and the Nikon D3300.
Canon Rebel T6i

Canon Rebel T6i

The Canon Rebel T6i is great for amateur nature photographers who want an affordable camera with great features.

It has an easy-to-use interface, built-in Wi-Fi (for quick transfers to a computer or instant sharing on social media), and an upgraded autofocus.

Other key specs include a 24-megapixel resolution, an APS CMOS sensor, an ISO range of 100-12,800, shutter speeds of 1/4000-30 sec, and continuous shooting at 5 fps (great for shooting wildlife in action).

Moreover, the Canon Rebel T6i gives nature photographers access to Canon’s extensive line of EF and EF-S interchangeable lenses—including ultra-wide-angle, super telephoto, and macro lenses.

Top lenses Canon users should consider investing in include the Canon 10-18mm IS STM and the Canon 10-22mm.
Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300

The Nikon D3300 is an outstanding budget DSLR that combines a 24-megapixel DX-format (APS) CMOS sensor (measuring 15.4mm x 23.2mm) with a feature set that’s designed to please shutterbugs looking to upgrade from point-and-shoot cameras to entry-level DSLRs.

Other key specs include an ISO range of 100-12,800, an 11-point autofocus system, continuous shooting at 5 fps, and shutter speeds of 1/4000-30 sec.

Choosing the Nikon D3300 gives users access to Nikon’s more than 70 current-production lenses and teleconverters.

Including close-up, fisheye, superwide, long zoom, and Vibration Reduction lenses.

Top lenses Nikon users should consider investing in include the Nikon 10-24mm and the Nikon 18-300mm VR.

The Art of Taking Nature Photos

Once you own the best DSLR camera, you’re ready to start taking nature and wildlife photos, right?

Not so fast.

Check out the following sections to help you conceptualize and snap better nature photos.
Taking Pictures of Eagles

Know Your Subjects

While serendipitous discoveries are always welcome during nature photo shoots, it’s vital to get some basic information about your intended subjects—whether it’s flowers, forests, antelope, or colorful birds.

Doing so will spare you a lot of mistakes.

For example, if you want to photograph flowers, you’ll need to know when they’re in bloom and where they’re most likely to grow.

If it’s animals you intend to capture with your lens, find out where they live, what they like to eat, and what time of the day they’re most likely to be accessible.

As for more dangerous wildlife, it’s best to embark on your photo expeditions with the help of an experienced woodsman or wildlife guide.

Don’t forget to observe all safety precautions, and inform family members and friends of your whereabouts before going on your photo expedition.

Composing Your Shots

When it comes to composing your shots, the general rules of photography apply.

How the elements in the photograph are arranged is of immense importance.

Observe the rule of thirds:

To create more dynamic and interesting nature photos, observe the rule of thirds.

Start by drawing four sets of lines.

Two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines.

The end result will be nine equally sized squares.

Pay attention to where the lines intersect, and place your subject at one of these intersecting points to create more interesting results.

Center your subject:

Consider placing your subject in the center of the frame for a more balanced composition.

Avoid distracting the eye:

Remember to focus on elements that attract the eye to the main subject and exclude those that distract the eye from the main subject.

If it’s the background you wish to place out-of-focus, consider using a 200 mm telephoto lens to bring the subject into sharp focus.

Frame your subject to achieve balance:

You can frame your subject so that the overall photograph feels balanced.

For example, if you place your subject on the right vertical 1/3 line, then consider placing another subject on the vertical 1/3 line on the left as well.

Using Exposure

Exposure refers to the amount of light that the camera uses to process each photo.

Cameras manage exposure by controlling three things: aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO.

DSLRs provide more exposure choices than point-and-shoot cameras.

These exposure choices include aperture priority, shutter speed priority, program mode (wherein the camera chooses the aperture and shutter speed for you), and manual mode.

Adjusting your ISO value and exposure compensation value will enable you to fine tune your exposure.

Amateur photographers should start with aperture priority, and should also experiment with other aperture settings, ISO values, and exposure compensation values.
Elephant Photography
Examine your shots carefully. If any areas of the photo are blinking, this means that these areas are over or underexposed.

To get rid of these blinking areas, adjust the exposure compensation and ISO settings and try again.

You can also use your DSLR’s histogram to determine if your photos have been properly exposed.

Using Post-Processing Software

You can enhance your captured shots using post-processing software like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop Elements is Adobe’s entry-level post-processing tool for beginners.

Aside from being easier to learn, it’s also more affordable than Adobe Photoshop.

Once you’ve mastered the basic functions in Photoshop Elements, you may then consider upgrading to Adobe Photoshop to gain access to additional features and tools for even greater functionality.

Take Culturally Sensitive Photos Each & Every Time

Being a green traveler means more than just taking public transportation, sleeping in an eco-hotel, respecting one’s surroundings, and using a reusable water bottle.

It also means being respectful and responsible when taking pictures.

Every traveler who takes photos and every photographer who travels needs to be sensitive to the local culture.

Learn to take great travel photos with these tips to take culturally sensitive photos as well.

It is essential to be mindful of the local culture, customs, and etiquette.

Here’s how to do it!

Has a stranger ever taken your picture?

If so, how did it feel?

Did you turn around to see if there was someone or something interesting behind you that that person was photographing?

How did you feel when you realized you were the subject?

It is a weird feeling to be photographed without your consent or knowledge.

Be mindful of this feeling always.

Understand the cultural context

Before taking pictures, it is worth your time and is especially easy with the internet, to learn in advance about the local culture including religion and customs.

Check for laws or policies prohibiting photos

For instance, churches, temples, mosques, and museums may prohibit photography.

Also be conscious in high-security buildings and structures, including military bases, which might also ban photography.

It is forbidden to take pictures while through Customs in an airport.

When we visited a Greek Orthodox monastery, we learned from their website in advance that we could take pictures of the grounds and churches but not of the monks.

Get permission

You may want to get permission before taking someone’s photo.

Digital Photography School has a great post about asking permission to photograph people.

Two key points from that post are:

  • Ask permission of someone if they are the main focus of the photo.
  • Asking doesn’t have to be verbal. It can be a smile and a gesture that indicates you are asking, with them smiling or nodding in response.

If the person says no, respect that

If anyone says they don’t want their picture taken, respect their request.

Go somewhere else for a photo opportunity.

Watch body language

A person doesn’t have to say “no” to mean they don’t want their photo taken.

If their body language indicates they are uncomfortable, leave.

Be mindful of children

Shots of children tend to really capture a scene.

However, be careful when taking kids’ photos.

If they are the main subject of the photo ask the parent’s or guardian’s permission.

Consider the implications of the photo for the person or site pictured

This is so very important when you are trying to take culturally sensitive photos.

Could the person in the picture be subject to violence or political repercussions because of the photo?

If so, you should not take his or her picture.

Common sense always dictates whether or not you should even think to take a picture.

If it seems appropriate, ask, and be ready for a “no,” which you must abide by.

In the meantime, capture the sights and scenes, and locals as best and respectfully as you can.

Before leaving from our vacation, we do try to remember to have taken one excellent, frame-worthy shot, as one of our sustainable souvenirs.

Just remember to always take culturally sensitive photos with these tips.

Liz Pekler travel photographer

Taking great travel photos: What you need to know

Whether you have several thousands of dollars worth of professional camera gear or just a point and shoot camera, you can take great travel photos.

In fact, photography is one of the best ways to capture memories from your travel experiences.

After much research, experience, and trial and error, we offer our top tips for taking great travel photos.

Think outside the box

If you are traveling somewhere touristy, sometimes it can be difficult to get photos of recognizable landmarks that don’t feel cliché.

But make an effort to think outside the box.

Often travelers try to capture everything in the shot at once, stepping back and getting the landmark, the sky — and other tourists.

While that method can create wonderful perspective shots, try looking at the details.

Rather than using your camera to take dozens of photos of buildings, focus on some of the unique architecture.

Book travel around national holidays and events

While you’re planning your trip, try to book it around national holidays, spiritual or religious events, or even carnival-like celebrations.

In addition to providing unique cultural insights, these events offer a variety of opportunities for great photos.

Take unposed photos

Often, posed shots lack authenticity.

When taking travel photos of people, try to take photos of the subjects doing something from their daily life.

Whether they are at work, or doing chores, photos of people in their natural environments are often more interesting than posed pictures.

Your photos should tell a story

After getting back from a few trips, I have felt like my photos were missing something.

While I got a few great shots, I felt like the photos didn’t tell the story of my travels.

Be sure to get plenty of photos of the people you are traveling with and where you stayed.

Remember to take pictures of people you met and even what you ate.

Often, these are the photos that people will be most interested in seeing as you share your photos with friends back home.

In the 1990’s we stayed at some very interesting rooms while touring Italy.

I wish I had pictures of them to remember them more clearly.

Gain understanding of culture and traditions

Make sure you spend time understanding traditions and cultures of the places you are visiting.

Every traveler should strive to be respectful, but photographers have an extra burden because photography can feel a bit invasive.

In some cultures, photography isn’t common so it’s essential that you make sure that you’re not being rude or offensive.

Go above and beyond.

People will be more responsive when you ask to take their photos if you are making an effort to understand their culture and have learned a few phrases of their language.

Get permission to photograph people

Often travelers lack confidence when taking travel photographs.

Everyone wants to take beautiful portraits, but people are often nervous to ask someone if they can photograph them.

Instead, they stand far away with a zoom lens.

This is not the best way to take culturally sensitive photos. Instead, ask people if you can take their photos.

The worst thing that can happen is that they will so say no.

If they do say yes, be sure to show them the photos on the LCD screen.

Generally speaking, if someone is the main subject of a photo, I try to ask permission before taking the photo.

The same goes for children, if they are the main subject, I try to ask permission from their parents.

Keep a journal

If you have done any sort of long-term travel, you know that by the time you get home you may have forgotten many of the details.

Keep a journal close to your camera and make notes of the names of places and people you photograph.

Often, my favorite photos are the ones that have great stories that go with them.

Remember that after taking great travel photos that you also have to enjoy them. (Our 8th tip: Enjoy them!)

For so many years, after taking hundreds of pictures on my digital camera or phone, I never even looked at them, much less ordered them, framed them, cherished them.

Especially having kids, putting the pictures into a digital photo book or in a classic-type photo album, or a few in a frame will help your entire family remember the fun they had on that vacation.

So be sure to enjoy and share travel photos as soon as you can after your trip so you will be more motivated.

What are your tips for taking great travel photos?

How to Backup Photos While Traveling

My husband and I spent 3 months traveling through Africa last year.

As we were planning, one of my biggest concerns was figuring out how we would backup our photos and videos on the road.

With only one computer on the trip, we knew that we would quickly fill up the internal hard drive.

We had two DSLR cameras and ended up taking thousands of photos as we traveled through over a dozen African countries.

We used a few methods for backing up all of the photos and videos, and we were able to have 2 backups of most of our files.

Even if you aren’t going to be going on an extended trip anytime soon, figuring out how to backup photos while traveling can be a challenge.

Here are my top tips for backing up your photos.

 

How to Backup Photos While Traveling

Buy the Right Memory Cards

Memory cards have gone down in price significantly since I bought my first digital camera.

While traveling, it’s helpful to have a large memory card.

If your memory card has enough space, you may just be able to leave photos on it until you get home.

Periodically during the trip, you can copy your photos over to your computer or a hard drive for backup.

You can get a 128 GB memory card on Amazon for $174.99.

Even if you shoot in raw, you should be able to take about 8000 photos with this card.

You can also get memory cards with built in Wi-Fi.

If you know you’ll be traveling in places with internet, this is a great option because it can wirelessly backup all of your photos to your computer.

The downside is definitely the price: an 8 GB memory card with Wi-Fi is currently about $78.

Bring a Pelican Case

Depending on where you are going, a Pelican case can be helpful for backing up photos because you can store hard drives and other camera equipment in a safe place.

We used a small one to hold our external hard drives so they would be protected from water and the bumpy ride.

They come in a variety of sizes, and you can trim the padding to fit, so all of your equipment and hard drives can fit securely in the case.

Delete as You Go

Editing down your photos as you go can save a lot of room on your camera’s memory card and your hard drives.

This was a big thing for us as we were traveling.

As time consuming as it was, we spent time after each country going through the photos we’d taken.

We deleted the photos we knew we wouldn’t use.

Whether it was because they were duplicates, blurry, or just poor quality.

It saved space, and it was also great because it was one less thing to do when we got home.

Invest in a Solid State Drive

We haven’t bought a solid state drive yet, but I know it’s on my husband’s wish list.

A solid state drive is much durable than a regular hard drive because it uses flash memory, so there are no moving parts to be damaged.

Even though we had a pelican case, we were constantly concerned about our external hard drives, so a solid state drive would have been a huge help on our trip.

Unfortunately, they’re expensive.

For a 240 GB solid state drive, you’ll pay about $280.

But, depending on where you are traveling, a solid state drive would be a great option for how to backup photos while traveling.

Upload When You Can

We had internet periodically on our trip, and we made sure to upload photos to Flickr when we could.

Reviewing our photos on the road was great because we would also select our favorite photos and put them in a separate folder to upload to Flickr, just in case something happened to our other storage.

Because our internet access was limited and not very fast, we weren’t able to do this with all of our photos.

But we felt better knowing that our favorite photos were safe online.

To speed up the upload process, we also reduced the file size.

How do you backup photos while traveling?

What tips do you have for how to backup photos?

DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera: Which Should You Buy?

Last March, I attended a media event with Sony, where I was fortunate enough to spend three full days on location in Park City, Utah learning how to use a variety of their newest cameras, video cameras, and tablets.

I now have enough knowledge to make a decision about bringing my DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera wherever I go.

I traded in my trusty Nikon point-and-shoot for the duration of the trip, and absorbed the information and in-the-field tutorial of Sony experts.

I’ll tell you, I was a bit nervous.

I’m not especially tech-savvy, despite using cameras in my line of work as a travel writer for years.

I was sure the Sony experts were going to push me out of my comfort zone (the world of point-and-shoots) and make me leave mine behind.

So what is really the best DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera

Instead, I came away from the experience buoyed by two facts:

While DSLR (which stands for digital single lens reflex) cameras are often the go-to choice for specific functions and results, they don’t have to be complicated.

Point-and-shoots still have their place in my day pack or purse.

DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera

What a relief! I didn’t want to give up the convenient size of my point-and-shoot, which fits so nicely in my pocket.

And those intimidating DSLRs?

They’re not so scary as you might think.

Oh, and plus?

Video cameras can be quite small now, and I’m not just talking about the one on your phone.

Best camera for…

Taking pictures of kids and action-packed vacations

If you’re trying to capture intense action while on-the-go, it is best to use an action cam.

It can be mounted on your helmet, bike handlebar, or even strapped to your chest.

Turn it on, record the action, and turn it back off.

After being introduced to Sony’s Action Cam, I’ve been able to actually keep up with my skiing kids.

Whereas I used to be way behind, trying to film with one hand and hold my poles in the other.

Because action cams (not just the Sony version) have waterproof casing, they can come along for the ride in kayaks, through mud puddles, and in dirt.

Even when you’re not traveling, an action cam is the best camera for taking pictures of kids.

Which type to buy?

Sony’s Action Cam features WiFi, which can be used to download videos directly to phones and Facebook as well as for you to see the angle of your shot via your screen as you’re filming.

The well-known Go Pro HERO does not feature WiFi, but does enjoy a on-camera screen and more intuitive programming.

Waterproof camera for outdoor travel

If you’re planning to take photos while rafting, swimming, backpacking, or hiking, you need a camera that will fit in a pocket or waist-belt pocket of a day pack, is immune to dust and dirt getting into the lens, and is waterproof.

Opt for a waterproof, dust-proof point-and-shoot like the Sony rugged Cyber-Shot with both video and still shoot capability.

I’m planning to take mine swimming with whale sharks; horseback riding through the Tetons; and kayaking in Alaska.

The Olympus Tough compact digital camera has similar features for a similar price tag, and like the Sony, also claims to be shockproof and freeze-proof.

Night shots, landscapes, and portraits

This is where a DSLR and interchangeable lens cameras really shine.

Maybe the point-and-shoot will suffice while you’re trying to grab a shot while riding behind sled dogs or navigating a Class III rapid, but when you can take your time to set up your shot, you’ll want a manual lens.

And if you’ve tried to take really great night shots or interior shots with your point-and-shoot, you know that you really need to know what you’re doing to be successful.

After only a few days with a Sony NEX-6, an interchangeable lens camera that has the features of a DSLR without the weight or bulk, I was able to take great shots of city lights, close-ups of food and faces, and gorgeous landscapes.

The key?

Being able to adjust shutter speed, and frame my shot in a viewfinder.

For a great overview of DSLRs, read the Best Digital DSLR Cameras for Every Traveler’s Budget.

If you want the best camera for night shots, landscapes, and portraits, a DSLR or high-quality interchangeable lens camera is the way to go.

Below is a shot I took of the perfect snow at Park City’s The Canyons while ‘on location’ with the Sony NEX:

photo with DSLR

If you can’t afford a DSLR or other high-quality interchangeable lens camera (they are pricey!), a nice almost-hybrid point-and-shoot is the Nikon Coolpix.

This is the camera I put aside during my tutorials in Park City, but which I do still use and find to be a trusty camera.

I use mine to carefully set up landscape shots and grab action on the go.

If you’re tech-impaired like I am, here’s what to look for in your first DSLR or Interchangeable Lens Camera:

Viewfinder

Yes, cameras still have them.

No, your point-and-shoot hasn’t boasted one for quite a few years, and I know you don’t think you need one, but you do.

I was amazed by the different in my ability to frame a good shot when I was looking through a view finder.

Screen in addition to a viewfinder

Sometimes, you do need to see the ‘whole picture’ or be able to see your view at a different angle.

Look for a camera (like the Sony NEX) that offers an adjustable screen.

This really comes in handy when you have your camera on a tripod (or set on a ledge or bench) and need to see your view.

Auto feature

Yes, your DSLR will have a zillion settings, but even the experts I talked to at the Sony event recommended that as a novice, I use the auto feature 90% of the time.

And I got great photos.

The auto feature takes the guesswork out of a DSLR for when you need to capture a moment without over-thinking it.

That’s our roundup of a DSLR vs point-and-shoot camera.

If you’ve never considered a DSLR or interchangeable lens camera because all the settings and user-control intimidate you (as it did me), I hope you’ll reconsider.

They really are only as complicated as you want them to be.

And if you’ve been trying to use a DSLR while in the midst of action, don’t be leery of giving a point-and-shoot a chance.

Many perform better than you’d imagine.

Think about your activity, the pace of the action, and the conditions (water, etc.) and go from there.

Photo credit: Gwenael Piaser and Amy Whitley.

Best Digital DSLR Cameras for Every Traveler’s Budget

Whether you are going on a staycation or planning a long-term overseas trip, it is definitely easier to capture those legendary travel moments with a great camera.

Up until the last few years, it was difficult to get a great camera for a good price.

Many professional DSLR cameras seemed off-limits for travelers.

But thankfully, there are now cameras that fit with every price range.

As the cameras on smart phones continue to improve, we have ditched our point and shoot digital camera.

Instead we travel with our DSLRs and our iPhones.

We love that this helps us travel light–which is one of the easiest ways we’ve found to travel green.

Here are the best digital cameras for every budget.

Entry Level: Rebel T3i

While the $749 price tag may not seem entry-level, the Canon T3i is a great camera for the money.

It is an inexpensive DSLR that produces high quality photos.

We bought this camera before going on a three month camping trip through Africa and were really happy with our photos and the camera itself.

My husband appreciated that it takes video, as well as photos.

The flip-out screen allows you to look over crowds and take self-portraits.

One of the disadvantages of the entry-level cameras compared to the high-end DSLRs is that they are cropped frame.

This camera with a 17-55 mm lens.

Nikon equivalent: Nikon D5100

Mid Range: 60D

The Canon 60D is definitely a step-up from the Canon T3i.

The Canon 60D is a more professional camera, but the price is still manageable.

Right now, you can purchase a 60D you will also receive a 18-135 mm lens.

Like the T3i, one of the biggest disadvantages of this camera is the cropped frame.

Canon developed this camera with the photographer in mind.

Someone that is looking to upgrade from a camera in the Canon Rebel series.

Nikon equivalent: Nikon D7000

High-End: 5D Mark III

The Canon 5D Mark III is definitely on my husband’s wish list.

With a price tag of $3899 this camera is top of the line.

With full-frame image quality that gives you wider angle photos, this camera is a big upgrade from both the T3i and the 60D.

While the other two cameras come with plastic bodies, the 5D Mark III has a metal body, which makes it a more durable camera.

If you are hoping to get into professional photography, this is a good option because it is ideal both the studio and shots in the field.

It is also great for still photography.

Nikon equivalent: Nikon D800

These three cameras are all Canon because that is what we have always used and what we prefer.

Both of cameras are Canon which makes for lighter (and cheaper) traveling because the lenses are interchangeable.

We have been extremely happy with both of our DSLRs, but we have friends that swear by Nikon.

It is definitely a matter of preference.

So, I listed the Nikon equivalent for each camera.

What camera do you use for nature travel

Image credits: chris_ford_uk, mklipovsky, theogeo

Priceline for Car Rentals ~ 10 Tips to Save Money

Priceline for Car Rentals, Priceline Car Rental

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Priceline for car rentals – You are in the midst of making all the arrangements for your next great adventure and it’s time to finalize your transportation and arrange for a rental car.

Although people have been using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price function for years to find great deals on flights, many of us don’t think to do the same for our car rental reservations or don’t feel confident that we can name our own price without missing something and ending up with a non-refundable reservation that isn’t what we needed.

Because the discounts Priceline offers through this program can result in a significant cost savings, it is an excellent way to get more for your travel budget.

To help make sure you do, here are ten tips for using Priceline for car rentals.
priceline for car rentals, Priceline Car Rental

Priceline for Car Rentals to Save Money on Priceline Car Rental

Priceline offers solid discounts

Part of their standard reservation process without the restrictions and limitations associated with naming your own price.

Start out by checking Priceline’s regular price and work out your optimal car rental scenario including what locations you are willing to accept for pick-up/drop-off, times, the number of days you need the car, and the type of car you want.

You might find a price that meets your budget without having to worry about restrictions.

Do your research on Priceline

Make sure you understand what the different categories of cars offer in terms of amenities and capacity, both for passengers and luggage.

Some brands “economy” category cars don’t have radios and the passenger seating availability in one company’s mid-size might be different than that of another company.

Check the prices

Check prices offered at the national brands websites and other consolidated travel websites like Travelocity.

This will give you a good idea of the average price for the exact rental you need, ensure you are comparing apples to apples to apples, and help you pick the right bid amount when you are ready to bid.

Compare weekend vs weekday rates on Priceline

While researching standard pricing, make sure you are accounting for differences in weekend rates versus weekday rates versus full week rental rates.

Picking the right rental period may result in additional cost savings and is a key piece of information you will need to name your own price.

If you are flying into a major airport, it may be worth it to check into the rates available if you pick-up and drop-off at a city location rather than the airport.

Although you will have to arrange for transportation from the airport to the pickup location and it may not be as convenient, it might save you enough money to make the extra hassle and the cost of a cab more than worthwhile.

Priceline Bidding Hacks

As you get ready to make your bid, write out all the details of what you need to ensure you are getting the exact reservation your vacation plans require.

Remember that Priceline’s name your own price program has severe restrictions around changes, cancellations, and refunds.

Taking a minute to plan out your bid before you commit to anything will help ensure you don’t inadvertently pick the wrong vehicle type or arrival date and end up paying more than you bargained for.

Set your initial bid for 20-30% lower than the best price you found during your standard rate research.

You can also check on Priceline to see the most recent winning bids for reservations similar to the ones you are trying to make.

Use this information to validate your bid price and adjust up or down if needed.

Priceline Taxes and fees

The cost of taxes and fees will be shown as part of your total bid before you finalize and lock yourself into purchasing.

Make sure you review this confirmation carefully and understand the full cost you will incur if your bid is accepted.

Get most out of Priceline Discount

In order to get the most benefit out of the discounts Priceline can offer on car rentals while also averting any unintended costs or consequences, it is important to remember that the discounts are available because of the strict rules Priceline imposes on name your own price reservations.

According to Priceline policies, once the name your own price bid is accepted, you cannot change the reservation in any way, you cannot extend the reservation at the same discounted price, and you will not get any refund for cancellations or if you return the car early

Priceline Policy’s

Lastly, be sure to read Priceline’s policy on delayed/cancelled/rescheduled flights so you know what you need to do in the event you find yourself in one of these situations.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled and then rescheduled, your reservations will be held for 24 hours and extended by one day.

If your flight is cancelled and you will not be taking a rescheduled flight, you will need to contact Priceline’s customer support team to determine what options you have based on your specific circumstances.

Priceline Car Rental

When it comes to car rentals, using Priceline to find the right reservation at the right price can save you a significant amount of money but you need to be prepared and informed in order to get the rental car you need at the best price available.

The extra time and effort you put in may help you save enough money to splurge on sampling the local cuisine or taking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure while you are away from home.

Another of our favorite posts are: The Ultimate Guide to Priceline Bidding Tips and Find Cheap Airline Tickets: Cheat Sheet

Ways to find cheap rental cars

The very best travel coupons that you’ll find on the internet are car rental coupon codes.

I have been able to use some sort of car rental coupon every single time I’ve had to rent a car; whereas it’s a rarer occasion when I’ve used a coupon for airfare or hotel.

This post first provides a list of car rental coupon codes and then goes through the best method for getting a good deal on a rental car.

Use a travel search engine (aggregator) for an initial search

Like with airlines – which may have hubs in some places and thus be cheaper – car rental companies may have “hubs” in certain cities.

Because of this, there is no reason to have any loyalty to a particular car rental company based on price.

You may be loyal to one company based on customer service or something else, but you shouldn’t think that one company always has the best price.

I like to start with a search on a travel search aggregate like Kayak and see what companies are coming up with the best price in the area I’m visiting.

Use rental car discount codes and coupons directly on the company’s website

Once you’ve determined which car rental company or companies are offering the best prices for your location or dates, look for coupons for those particular companies.

We will regularly update this page (so bookmark it) with coupons we have available, but sometimes the coupons are listed directly on the company’s site.

You can also Google “(name of company) car rental coupon code” to see what turns up.

Finally, some auto service clubs, insurance agencies, schools, and other affiliation groups or clubs may offer discounts.

Watch for any offers through promotions you get from those clubs and companies.

For instance, I get discounts through USAA, my insurance company, as well as my Amex card, and an alumni association I’m a part of.

Sign up for preferred car rental clubs (if they’re free)

Avis Preferred Service is completely free to sign up for (and well worth it because you don’t have to wait in line) Hertz also has a #1 Gold program that offers similar benefits.

I was able to get into the Hertz program for free with my Amex card.

Unless you’re an extremely frequent car rental (which hopefully you’re not as it’s not the greenest of transportation options) it’s probably only worth it to sign up for these preferred car rental clubs if it’s free to sign up.

Use these tips for using Priceline for car rentals and save every time you travel.

Be sure to check out our other travel coupons posts for more great coupon codes.

Save on car rentals every time you travel.

Green Car Rental Hacks – Eco-Friendly Way to Travel Green

Green Car Rental Hacks – Regardless of what you drive at home, renting an eco-friendly car while traveling is a great way to travel green.

These days, many rental car companies are making significant efforts to add hybrids, electric cars, and other fuel-efficient vehicles to their fleets.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’ll appreciate these tips for a green car rental.

Look for SmartWay Certified Vehicles

The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide scores vehicles on a scale of 1 to 10 based on air pollution and greenhouse gas emission.

The vehicles that receive a better than average score in both are designated as SmartWay certified.

So, in comparison to the other vehicles on the market, these are the most environmentally friendly vehicles.

SmartWay Elite status is given to the vehicles that get the highest scores in both categories.

All SmartWay certified vehicles are listed in the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.

Before you rent, you can check to see how your rental car ranks.

Many rental car companies will let you know which cars in their fleet have this EPA certification, making choosing a green rental car even easier!

guide to green car rental

Go Small Rental Car

Between the extra legroom and the added truck space, it can be tempting to go for that upgrade at the car rental counter.

But resist if you can.

Smaller cars are typically much more fuel-efficient, making them more environmentally friendly.

In fact, 100% of the cars in Budget’s economy, compact, and intermediate categories are SmartWay certified.

Plus, you’ll save money on the rental fee and at the pump!

Book Early for Hybrid Rental Cars

Most large car rental companies in the United States (like Avis) now offer hybrids.

But it’s best to book early since they’re considered specialty vehicles.

The downside is that the actual car rental is more expensive, but the gas savings can help make up for the difference in price.

A few years ago, it was difficult to find companies to that offered hybrids.

Thankfully, now you can search for “green cars” on sites like Travelocity, which makes it easier to find a hybrid rental.

Especially when you book early!

Find a Green Rental Car Company that Specializes in Eco-Friendly Cars

A few rental car companies that specialize in renting eco-friendly cars are starting to pop up around the country.

eQocar in Burbank, California rents only hybrid vehicles.

They have an impressive range of compact cars, luxury vehicles, and even SUVs.

Bio-Beetle in Maui, Hawaii offers cars that use bio-diesel.

Their most popular car is a Volkswagen Beetle. Traveling to Key West?

Check out Conch Electric Cars for a selection of electric cars for sightseeing in the Florida Keys.

Green car rental is easy when you find a company that specializes in it.

Join Zipcar

Zipcar is a car-sharing program in bigger cities and on college campuses across the North America and the UK.

My husband and I joined in Boston and we’re able to rent cars by the hour when we need them.

If you live in a city that has Zipcar, it’s a great alternative to owning a vehicle.

While Zipcar is not necessarily an option while traveling since it only works in the city where you live, it can be a great option if you need to rent a car for a staycation or a day trip.

Zipcar offers a variety of hybrid vehicles to choose from.

Skip the Rental Car

If you were thinking about renting a car this summer, you might find that if you look over the itinerary you really don’t need to after all.

Many cities offer effective public transportation and walking is a great way to explore a new area.

Have you rented an eco-friendly car on vacation?

What are your tips for a green car rental?

Best Way Save Money Renting Car

Best Way Save Money Renting Car Traveling To Europe

There are many things to consider when renting a car in Europe.

You have to ensure that the car that you are renting is fuel-efficient.

Hybrid Car Rental Low Emission Zones

This will save you a lot of money on gas.

Also, you have to make sure that you have the necessary insurance for the rental car.

Here are a few things that will help you rent the Best Way Save Money Renting Car within your budget:

Diesel Fuel Consumption

One of the best ways to save money is to get a small car that runs on diesel.

Firstly, a small car will have a smaller engine.

Small engines usually deliver great fuel mileage.

You will find it easier to get around if you have a smaller car.

One of the best things about getting a small car with a diesel engine is the fuel cost.

Small engines give a good mileage to begin with.

Also, a diesel engine will give you better mileage than a petrol engine.

Moreover, you are more likely to find a car with a diesel engine in Europe for a good price.

This will save you a hefty amount of money.

You will save fuel since the small car is more likely to travel in high gears.

If you want to rent a good car which will prove convenient, you should book the car in advance.

Renowned car rental companies allow you to make advance bookings online, even if you are coming in from a different continent.

Make the booking before you board the flight.

However, you should call and confirm your booking in addition to the online booking.

Insurance For Rental Car Europe

When you rent a car from any car rental service, you should make sure you carry a Green Card.

This is a document that is paired along with each and every rental car.

If your rental vehicle does not have this document, be sure to ask for it as it is extremely essential.

This document will need to be produced in the event you are stopped by the authorities.

You may even need to produce the document if you travel to a different European country.

In the event of an accident, the Green Card becomes an absolute necessity.

Only when you have all the necessary documentation should you drive away with the rented car.

Good Travel Insurance Should Cover Financial Loss or Medical Expenses.

Travel Insurance How You Can Choose the Best Plan

Rental Car Safety Equipment

One important thing to consider before you leave with the car is the safety equipment.

There are quite a few essentials that you will need on the road.

The first and foremost is a spare wheel, lifting jack and a safety triangle.

Always check the car that you have rented for this equipment.

If the equipment is not there, you should ask the company to provide it.

In addition, you should verify the type of fuel the car runs on.

If you specified a diesel vehicle or a gas vehicle, make sure that service provides the same car to you.

You may end up stranded if you end up using the wrong fuel in the car.

Rental Car Controls

Another thing that you have to check before driving off is the car controls.

European cars often have different controls.

Make sure you understand where all the controls and knobs are before you drive off.

A great idea is to take a test drive to see if the car feels right.

Rental Car Pickup Locations

Another aspect that will greatly affect the rental price is the pickup location.

If possible, you should consider visiting the car rental service outlet to collect the car.

This proves to be the cheapest option as you will not be charged extra for a pickup.

You will be charged an extra amount if you have the car transported to the airport.

If you have to have the car transported to a particular location, you can always do so in a small town.

Any car you pick up in a big city will cost you a hefty amount.

There is convenience to consider.

If you drive off the airport to a location, you will not encounter much traffic.

However, if you pick up the car from within a town, you will have to account for traffic.

You may end up being stuck in traffic.

It may be a good idea to pay a little extra money and beat the traffic.

Price during Peak Season

If you want to rent a car, you should consider doing so during the off-season.

This is because the rates charged by car rental services are high during the peak seasons.

You can always book the car a couple of days in advance and make sure you can beat the holiday price.

In fact, if you want to rent a car at the last minute, you might not be able to find any.

During the seasons, rental car services are overbooked and they usually do not have cars available.

As soon as you have your air tickets confirmed, you should consider reserving a car for yourself to the European destination you are travelling it.

You should make online reservations and then confirm them over the phone to avoid any inconvenience.

Gas Prices and Gas Mileage

Gas prices in Europe are high.

This is one reason you should consider going for the most fuel-efficient car possible.

The tax rates in Europe are quite high.

This directly affects the gas prices there.

You will find a substantial difference between the gas and diesel prices in Europe as compared to other continents.

Renting a fuel-efficient car will ensure you don’t have to spend too much on fuel.

When you rent a car in Europe, you have to make sure that you do not rent a large car.

Part of the reason is the roads in Europe.

However, you also have to consider the gas mileage.

Larger cars consume more gas which will prove to be very expensive.

This is why you should make it a point to rent the most fuel-efficient car possible.

Use these tips when renting a car in Europe and you will be able to save a considerable sum of money.

Where to Rent Green Rental Car Hybrid

Green Rental Car Hybrid – Visiting new places is exciting.

There’s so much to see and do, and so many memories to be made.

Travel also involves planning.

With itineraries to create and hotel reservations to make, it’s easy to overlook the environment.

However, many companies are making it easier to be eco-friendly while on the go.

Resorts are catering to a green conscious public, and people can be even more environmentally responsible by renting a green car.

If you are looking where to rent a hybrid rental car in the United States, it might pose a bit of a challenge.

Though it is getting easier with each year, it is not as easy as one would expect in this day and age.

An environmentally-friendly rental car isn’t a given unless you seek one out.

But most of the big car rental companies are currently working on stocking hybrids, but there are still few that do.

Travel Green On Your Next Vacation to Reduce Impact
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Chance to try a different type of car

The majority of drivers still stick with the gas-powered car for their everyday transportation.

Vacation provides an opportunity to try out a car that’s powered by a different source.

Whether it’s bio-diesel, hybrid or electric, these cars take advantage of the latest technological developments to deliver performance that is efficient while also helping to preserve the environment.

Think of an eco-friendly car rental as a chance to enjoy an extended test drive.

Many people have chosen a green car after experiencing how wonderful it is to avoid frequent, expensive trips to the gas station.

It’s getting easier and more convenient to rent green cars.

Many of the major rental car companies in the U.S. now offer green options.

Independent rental car companies are springing up that boast fleets that are exclusively powered by alternative fuel.

Searching for Green Rental Car Hybrid rentals online

Perhaps the simplest way to begin the search for a green car rental is to look online.

Big rental car companies that have an environmental initiative in place are usually vocal about their practices.

Travelers wanting even more variety might consider conducting an Internet search for their destination that specifically references environmentally friendly car rentals.

Many of these smaller, independent companies are a bit more difficult to find, but their personalized services and expanded fleets of environmentally responsible vehicles makes them worth seeking out.

Read the fine print of your Rental Agreement

The larger car rental companies have recognized a definite trend as far as consumer demand for green cars.

That’s why they’ve shown themselves willing to add eco-friendly choices to their automobile lineup.

However, consumers should read the fine print and proceed with caution when renting a car.

Many automobiles that are part of a green car rental initiative do rely on alternative fuels, while others are merely recognized for providing excellent fuel efficiency.

Either vehicle is a good option, but the traveler who is determined to be as green as possible may want to double check that they have chosen a true electric or bio-diesel vehicle instead of one that’s just more efficient.
Green Rental Car Hybrid - Hybrid Rental Car

Benefits of renting a green rental car hybrid

Some travelers haven’t quite gotten on the green rental car hybrid bandwagon yet.

It’s not unusual for a tourist to choose a high powered sports car or an SUV when they are far from home.

While these cars certainly are fun to drive, they can have a significant environmental impact, especially if travelers plan to do quite a bit of driving during their stay.

Vehicles like these emit a lot of greenhouse gases and contribute to the amount of atmospheric pollution.

When it comes to deciding whether or not to go with a green car, drivers might consider that some cities that have a significant smog problem might ask people to restrict driving at certain times.

Choosing a green rental car hybrid allows the tourist to continue their sightseeing without worrying about contributing to a particularly smoggy day.

Renting a green car can also help travelers save money.

Some rental car companies do charge a bit more for choosing an environmentally friendly car.

However, most people who go this route discover that they more than make up for the extra cost in fuel savings.

In addition to saving gas money, alternative fuel cars can also provide peace of mind.

While driving through unfamiliar territory where gas stations may be few and far between, the driver of the alternative fuel vehicle doesn’t have to worry.

They usually have more than enough “fuel” to get them where they are going.

People traveling for business may also derive benefits from choosing a green rental car.

When trying to impress a client or other new business associate, being perceived as environmentally responsible may be particularly desirable.

Some companies only like to do business with organizations that are trying to make a difference in the world.

Demonstrating concern for the environment through a green car rental is a wonderful, real world way for a company to show where their heart is.

SmartWay vehicles

Many cars that are included in green car rental initiatives are certified SmartWay vehicles.

SmartWay is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that is aimed at improving fuel efficiency in all vehicles and reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, many vehicles have received the SmartWay certification.

Some of these are true hybrids or rely solely on some kind of alternative fuel source.

However, SmartWay cars may also be gas powered vehicles that are more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than other cars.

Each year the EPA establishes new guidelines and reviews the latest models from all major auto manufacturers.

A traveler who is having difficulty finding a car rental company at their destination that has a green car initiative might consider renting one of the models that has received the SmartWay certification.

This way, the tourist can still travel as green as possible.

Eco-tourism destinations are ideal places to rent a green rental cars

Environmentally friendly car rentals are becoming a hot trend in places where eco-tourism is popular.

Diverse destinations like Costa Rica, Kenya and the Norwegian Fjords attract thousands of visitors each year.

These travelers long to see pristine natural beauty, and to do so in as responsible a way as possible.

Choosing green transportation options is just one way to make eco-tourism more planet-conscious than ever.

To make their trip even more environmentally responsible, many tourists are choosing to rent a car for only a portion of their trip while relying on public transit, bicycles and their feet for the duration of their stay.

Compare rental car companies’ other green practices

Travelers might also want to take a look at their car rental company’s practices before choosing which one to go with.

From the smallest electrically powered car to the largest gas guzzling SUV, car rental agencies have a huge fleet to maintain.

That means endless rounds of repairs and cleaning to keep each vehicle operating at top efficiency.

Many rental companies have completely revolutionized the way they do business on a day-to-day basis, opting for biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners and using recycled materials whenever possible.

They’ve updated how they maintain their vehicles, making their practices far more environmentally friendly than they were before.

Happy Earth Day

That commitment to the environment also reaches into the office at some rental car companies.

Administration might have decided to go paperless, and they may have an extensive recycling program in place.

Maybe they encourage employees to carpool, take public transit or opt for reusable shopping bags.

Renting from companies like these shows an even greater commitment to keeping the earth healthy.

Affordable Car Rental in England

More advantages of renting green rental car hybrids

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, anyone can make choices that contribute to sustainability or could be detrimental to the environment.

Travelers can feel good about renting a green car, knowing that they are taking active steps to improve the planet.

They are making a choice that’s better for them and their family.

They are also choosing to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

Tips for driving smarter and more green

No matter what kind of car is rented, travelers can also take steps to ensure that their driving habits are as green as possible.

Believe it or not, simply being a patient driver can seriously reduce pollution rates.

Driving aggressively and stomping on the gas pedal emit far more carbon monoxide than slow and steady driving.

Some experts recommend using cruise control whenever possible, as this helps even out the demands on the car’s systems.

Additionally, sticking to the speed limit can significantly improve fuel economy.

Even using a GPS can unit can make a difference.

GPS helps drivers find the quickest route to their destination.

Moreover, it can provide drivers with alternate routes to help them avoid congestion that only promotes bad air quality.

It may even be beneficial to try opening some windows instead of using the air conditioner.

Air conditioning units tend to hurt fuel efficiency and emit harmful nitrogen oxide.

Limiting idling time and choosing not to warm up a car on cold mornings can also prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Rental Car Hybrid rentals are becoming more widely available in all corners of the world.

It’s not unusual for U.S. car rental agencies to offer energy efficient cars, many of which run on alternative fuel sources.

However, agencies tend to only have a limited number of alternative fuel cars available.

This makes it imperative for drivers to make reservations well in advance of their travel dates.

If an alternative fuel car is unavailable, drivers can still be environmentally conscious by choosing a car model that has received SmartWay certification or selecting a rental company that follows certain green operating practices.

Choosing eco-friendly cars

Let’s face it.

It pays to be green these days.

Climate change issues aside, the cost of fuel alone makes you want to choke at the pump.

Sure it’s nice to be there humming and saving in your electric car you just unplugged, but what if you want to be able to unleash 6.2 liters of V8 and 550 plus horsepower?

Maybe there’s a bit of ego involved, but some people really enjoy driving and appreciate the experience a well engineered machine provides to its pilot.

Is there a middle ground here?

You love eco-friendly cars but you love speed too.

Green or mean… or both?

In the Green Corner: Hybrid Roadsters

Even though we might not like to think about it, environmental concerns are real.

Cars use up fossil fuels and spit out carbon monoxide which accelerates global warming.

Being a car enthusiast doesn’t mean that you don’t care.

Some shout that we should go for the best fuel efficiency possible, and the automakers have not turned a deaf ear.

On the contrary, some of these green models have taken a place among the centerpieces of many automotive lines.

Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year contender, the Toyota Prius V Hybrid, for example, is a petrol-electric hybrid.

Nearly single handedly, this baby catapulted Toyota to the top spot among car makers and made a big difference in the company weathering the economic storm of 2008-2009.

There is huge consumer interest in this car so Toyota puts a big chunk of R&D resources here all for under family car money.

We are talking 45-mpg.

It’s what the environmentally minded driver demands.

Save cash at the pump and save the planet?

Sure, with these cars you can do both.

In the Mean Corner: The Muscle Car

Despite surging fuel prices, the car lover lives – and, therefore, so does the muscle car.

Maybe you prefer to drive well into triple digits.

Digits like 200-mph and 650-bhp, that is, as offered by the impressive Ford Shelby GT500.

There is no mistaking what’s going on under the bonnet here.

This beast is for the driver who just wants to drive.

This isn’t about commuting or heading out to buy groceries, but it is about the throaty roar and the pull you feel from all those horses pushing you toward the horizon.

Then, in perhaps the ultimate expression of indulgence you could slide into the Aston Martin One-77.

Let’s let the numbers do the talking: only 77 to be made, 750-bhp, 7.3 litre, V12 and a cool £1.2 million (or $1.5-2 million) sticker.

Running costs are likely to be high; to just replace a tire may cost the same as many economical small estates.

And the Winner is…

There are convincing arguments on both sides.

The green camp would cite that the environmental concerns alone are reason enough for eco friendliness to drive design and choice.

The enthusiast would counter that with stricter emissions regulations and high fuel prices the performance car is also making strides in environmental consciousness.

Take the new Mustang which has a 305-bhp V6. It maintains the muscle car feel, and it gets a respectable 31 mpg thanks to better valve operation and timing adjustments.

There are many science and technology centers as well as national parks, etc. that are displaying information about eco-friendly cars so even kids can learn about how important they are.

Even though green technology can be found trickling down to many conventional models, very few drivers want to go puttering along at a snail’s pace.

Performance matters to everyone. But where do you draw the line?

For the time being it appears that there are still choices, especially as more companies come on board with eco-friendly cars.

Hopefully the technological advancements will reach the point where someday we can grip the wheel of a muscular machine that goes fast and far on only a few drops of fuel.

We can certainly dream.

Pros and Cons of Buying Electric Cars What You Should Know

Cars using electricity instead of petroleum is definitely an attractive invention.

Though the presence of electric cars has been there since many years now, people are still concerned about deciding whether they should go for it and buying electric cars or a conventional one.

If you are having a similar confusion, then knowing the pros and cons of electric cars can help you finalize your decision.

Buying electric Cars

Here is what you should know about electric cars:

Quick and Quite

Even if you are riding an electric car for the first time, you will feel the difference:

It provides you a much smoother, quick, and quite ride as compared to the car using engine powered by petroleum.

The most surprising factor of an electric car is its high torque.

The higher the torque is, the better is its axle twisting power.

You Can Recharge Your Electric Car At Home

Who likes going to the gas station repeatedly?

And if you have an electric car, then set your fueling worries aside! Since you can recharge this vehicle at home, you can save a lot of time.

Recharging your electric car in a driveway or your garage means that you can drive it to eighty to one-hundred miles.

This is a lot for everyone, except those who need to commute long distances.

It Is a Cheaper Option

In various regions, electricity is said to be cheap and ubiquitous.

This gives the dwellers a huge advantage in terms of cost.

So, in countries where the petroleum prices are very high, electric cars can be the best alternate.

Secondly, electric cars do not require oil changes, which keep maintenance costs away.

Electric Cars Have a Good Future

Still, not all vehicle manufacturers have tapped into the market of electric cars.

However, within a couple of years, it is predicted that an increasing number of automobile companies will show serious interest in producing electric cars.

This is great news for electric car lovers!

Cons of Buying Electric Cars

Electric Cars Have Limited Range

Those driving electric cars often complain about their range anxiety.

So, when it comes to driving through long miles, these cars will not deliver you more than 100 miles.

However, the cost as well as range of batteries used within electric cars is said to be improving.

Refueling Takes Longer Electric Cars

The limited range issue is linked with the refueling concern of electric cars.

Since refueling an electric car takes a lot of time, many people prefer taking their petroleum car to the gas station.

Expensive Buying Electric Cars

For some people, initial costs matter a lot.

Having high cost of purchase, electric cars are said to be more expensive.

Consumer’s Choice Is Limited for Electric Cars

No matter how luxurious an electric car from a popular automobile company is, the designs and styles of electric cars are rare.

This makes many people out of choice.

So, these were the pros and cons of electric cars.

Since the industry of these eco-friendly vehicles is seeing growth in terms of consumer preference as well as technology, there are high chances that the newer models of electric cars will contribute positively in terms of increasing the market share of companies producing and selling them.

5 Things to know about Hybrid Car Rental

Have you heard of Low Emission Zones (LEZs)? It stands for Low Emission Zones.

Travelers should also be aware that in Europe there are many countries that have instituted Low Emission Zones.

Low emission vehicles are not always readily available for rental especially when traveling abroad.

What are Low Emission Zones?

Common in London and other congested areas abroad, Low Emission Zones are areas that the government tries to protect by regulating the types of vehicles that can access and use that area.

If a vehicle has a higher emission output, it cannot enter the area.

In some LEZ areas, the offending vehicles have to pay to access it.

The goal is to improve the air quality of the area.

The industry’s move toward greener alternatives has been stifled by the downturn in the economy, the concern being that travelers may not be willing to pay a premium for this service.

For many of us, the desire to have a less negative impact on the environment outweighs the additional cost when considering that it makes up a relatively small fraction of the amount that a family would normally spend on a vacation.

Although the travel industry has been slow to respond to the needs of its more forward thinking customers, advances are being made in the area of hybrid car rental.

Because hybrid car rental is being actively sought by consumers, car rental companies and travel brokers are working to make it more accessible.

Renting an electric or hybrid car can also be a good opportunity for a test drive before making a final purchase.

Toyota and Honda have worked diligently to market their hybrids as status symbols, and in most markets this means maintaining exclusivity to enforce that type of branding.

In some regions (surprisingly enough: Japan) there are waiting lists over six months to get your hands on a Prius.

So, while you wait, why not try one?

Environmentalists and technology enthusiasts are not the only ones that may have an interest in these vehicles. www.BestPartStore.co.uk

Travelers renting for several weeks and driving for long distances may also benefit from the fuel economy of a hybrid fleet.

5 Things About Low Emission Zones While Traveling in Europe

Driving a hybrid rental car can be exceptionally helpful when driving in these zones.

Here are the top five things you should know about these Low Emission Zones while traveling in Europe:

Low Emission Zones are in effect in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Austria, with more being added all the time.

Low Emission Zones are not country wide, they are centered around major metropolitan areas.

Ignorance of the rules will not save you from being penalized.

Make sure you do the research before you travel.

The best resource for this is www.lowemissionzones.eu

A low emission or electric vehicle could exempt you from any fees, which is another reason to rent a green car.

The rules for Low Emission Zones are not standard throughout the EU.

Different fees and standards apply to each.

It is important to learn what you can about Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in advance of your trip so you can plan accordingly.

Know what to expect, and avoid penalties.

12 Things You Need to Know about Carbon Offsets

As I navigated the world of carbon offsets, I learned that they are even more complicated than I could have imagined.

Here are the 12 lessons I’ve learned about carbon offsets that any traveler, especially a green traveler, should know.

Carbon Offsets are Give and Take

The idea is this: in return for your actions that harm the environment, you give money to a program that will improve the environment by an equal amount.

According the to Tufts University Climate Initiative, a carbon offset is:

A credit for negating or diminishing the impact of emitting a ton of carbon dioxide by paying someone else to absorb or avoid the release of a ton of CO2 elsewhere.

Carbon Offsets are Highly Controversial

Some people love carbon offsets, but many despise them.

As you read more you’ll understand why.

The bottom line is there’s very little accountability for companies offering carbon offsets.

The company could be taking 80% of your donation for “operating costs” and just giving the leftover 20% to a non-profit.

Carbon Offsetting Occurs by Funding Projects

These projects, in theory, give back to the environment to offset the amount of damage you have done.

For example, the project you give money to may go toward providing solar panel roofs to households in India.

There is No Accurate Way to Measure Carbon Emissions

According to The Guardian:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found a margin of error of 10% with measuring emissions from making cement or fertiliser; 60% with the oil, gas and coal industries; and 100% with some agricultural processes. Measuring emissions from aircraft is especially fraught with disagreement about what exactly should be measured and aggravated by variations in each flight’s height, cargo load and weather conditions. When TuftsUniversity in Maine analysed offsetting websites, it found emissions for flights between Boston and Frankfurt being calculated at anything between 1.43 tonnes and 4.14 tonnes.

Fees Vary Widely

The amount you pay to offset your carbon varies substantially based on the carbon offsetting organization you choose.

For example, according to TravelPost, for a trip from New York City to Los Angeles you could pay anywhere from $4.69 to $42.92 in offset fees.

Companies Can be For-Profit or Non-Profit

Organizations that offer carbon offsets are not exclusively non-profits.

In fact, only 6 of 21 carbon offsets providers listed at EcobusinessLinks are non-profit companies.

Projects Funded Vary

The range of projects that carbon offsets fund ranges from planting trees to providing wind power to distributing energy efficient light bulbs.

You should take the type of project into consideration before choosing a carbon offset organization.

You Can Choose the Projects You Want to Fund – Sometimes

Many of the carbon offsetting organizations allow you to choose which project you want to fund.

Others don’t, so do your research before committing.

Don’t Choose to Fund Projects that Plant Trees

This may come as a surprise to you as it did to me.

The outcome of planting trees is still unknown.

You should look for projects that make a difference now, and not 40 or 50 years from now.

Tufts University on protecting forests:

Although protecting forests is very important, protecting them so they absorb carbon is an iffy proposition. We know little about how forests store carbon in the long run, especially with the predicted climatic changes. By all means, donate money to organizations that help protect forests but for carbon offsets, invest in projects that help us transition away from fossil fuels, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The Guardian on tree planting:

Some tree-planting projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda have been accused of disrupting water supplies; evicting thousands of villagers from their land; seizing grazing rights from farmers; cheating local people of promised income; and running plantations where the soil releases more carbon than is absorbed by the trees. The founder of Climate Care, Mike Mason, told the environment audit select committee in February: “I think planting trees is mostly a waste of time and energy.” And yet Climate Care relies for some 20% of its online sales on forestry. Mr. Mason explained apologetically: “People love it unfortunately.”

Choose Projects that Wouldn’t Happen Without Your Help

When you choose a project you should look for one that would not occur naturally, without the organization’s assistance.

This concept is also known as “additionality.”

Here’s a good example from The Guardian:

One of the biggest UK offsetters, Climate Care, which is used by the Guardian, distributed 10,000 energy-efficient light bulbs in a South African township; offered the carbon reductions as offsets; and then discovered that an energy company was distributing the same kind of light bulbs free to masses of customers, including their township, so the reduction would have happened anyway.

Look for the Gold Standard

The Gold Standard is the strictest standard around. Look for offset providers that adhere to it.

They do, however, only give their okay to “renewable energy and energy efficiency projects because we are ultimately focused on a fundamental change in behavior.”

So if energy isn’t your thing, this label probably won’t help you.

Carbon Offsets Shouldn’t Make You Feel Guilt-Free

Just because you buy carbon offsets doesn’t mean that you can continue globetrotting the world, taking 20 minute showers in showers with multiple shower heads, and snacking on food that traveled 6,000 miles to get to you.

You still need to be a conscious consumer.

Recommended Companies

Two studies make recommendations based on their research.

We at Go Green Travel Green do not necessarily endorse these organizations.

From Tufts:

myclimate a non-profit company based in Switzerland

atmosfair a German non-profit company focusing on offsetting air travel

climate friendly an Australian-based for-profit company

NativeEnergy a US-based for-profit company

From the Guide to Offset Emissions:

Ag Cert / Driving Green (Ireland)

Atmosfair (Germany)

CarbonNeutral Company (UK)

Climate Care (UK)

Climate Trust (US)

Co2balance (UK)

Native Energy (US)

SustainableTravel / MyClimate (US)

Resources

Clearly, carbon offsets are complex, and we haven’t even touched on some of deeper issues here (like the Kyoto Protocol and the Voluntary Carbon Standard).

If you are interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

Tufts University Climate Change Initiative’s Consumer Handout on Carbon Offsets and Full Report on Carbon Offsets

The Guardian’s “The Inconvenient Truth about Carbon Offset Industry

A Consumers Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers

Treehugger How to Green Your Carbon Offsets

Travel Post Guide to Carbon Offsets

Treehugger Through the Jungle of Non-Profit Carbon Offset Providers

Grist A guide to offsetting your carbon emissions.

Carbon Catalog – Location, whether the organization is non-profit, price, and a number of other criteria for 81 businesses.

Carbon Emissions Offset Directory Includes price, whether the organization is non-profit, types of projects (i.e. methane, renewables), project choice, offset types (i.e. car, home, air), and certification for dozens of carbon offset businesses across the world

Photo credit: Beige Alert

Best Microfiber Travel Towel Numerous Towels on the Market Today

Best Microfiber Travel Towel

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Best microfiber travel towel – What do you expect from the best microfiber travel towels you buy?

You want softness, which is why microfiber is so fantastic.

You may want a stylish color to match the other towels you have.

You may want something that is absorbent, durable or just plain cute.

When it comes to options, you do have numerous towels to choose from on the market today.

These travel towels are super absorbent.

I carry two of the Micronet (below), a small and a large on longer, hostel-staying, trips.

Best Microfiber Travel Towel

To know what your options are, rely on these tips.

You will find that the following are the top three microfiber travel towels on the market.

That comes from the customers who bought then and reviewed them.

These are your best overall bet for quality and style.

Rick Steve’s Travel Towel

One of the top rated products, as reported by consumers, are the New Microfiber Travel Towels from Rick Steves.

Use them for hair drying, babies or for virtually anything you want and need.

This company sells these in a set of seven.

They are super absorbent in that they hold seven times the weight of the towel in water or other liquid.

In addition, these dry quickly, which means they are able to reduce bacteria growth.

You can use them for any wet or dry application, too.

Customers who bought them loved that they were a good quality and that they were lightweight.
Microfiber Towels

Design Go Luggage Travel Towel

For those that love to splash and play in the water, having a travel towel that allows for easy drying is critical.

A good option is the Design Go Travel Towel.

These are perfect for scuba diving, surfing or other wet sports where you need a fast way to dry off.

There are several reasons that consumers like these.

First, they are a high density knit material that is highly compact and it is super absorbent.

This means they can help you to dry off quickly.

In addition, they are durable enough to scrub with.

These towels will hold up to five times their weight in water.

Micronet Travel Towel

These towels come with a net that allows you to more easily carry and store them.

I own a hand-size towel and an extra large travel towel from this company and love them.

Aquis Adventure Towel

This manufacturer makes a number of different towel options, with and without microfiber, that are perfect for sports situations as well as other activities.

The Aquis Adventure Travel is a unique option because it blends a material called Aquitex, which is super absorbent, with ultra fine micro fibers.

This unique combination makes these towels super lightweight, but they are very effective at drying off surfaces.

They are able to draw in the water quickly so that you can dry off fast.

These are great for drying hair quickly and come with a special closure to keep the towel in place.

For those looking for a fantastic microfiber travel towel, do consider these options.

You will also find larger towels able to do many of the same features.

The customer who bought the above products say these products work as described and where perfect for camping or swimming, or just any use.

Best Water Shoes: Sandals, Hiking, Running for Men and Women

Best Water Shoes

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Best Water Shoes

Best Water Shoes: Whether I am heading to the beach, the lake, or to a kayak trip down the river, choosing the right footwear can be a make or break decision.

There are a variety of shoes made specifically for enjoying water-based activities, some are made to meet the needs of a specific activity while others can handle most any wet and wild adventure you are planning.

To help you decide which are right for you, we put together the following list which highlights some of the best options in each category.

If you’re interested in travel shoes, check out Best Travel Shoes: Walking Sandals

Best Hiking Water Shoes

These are the shoes that will take you from a hike in the forest to fording a stream to boogey boarding at the beach.

The Mackenzie by Keen and the Churn by Teva are both great for women who spend all their spare time enjoying the best nature has to offer.

For men, check out the men’s version of the Churn and the Boulder by ECCO.

These shoes will take you anywhere you want to go and keep your feet safe along the way.

Best Water Sandals

For some of us, it just isn’t summer if we aren’t wearing sandals.

Even better than sandals in the summer, sandals on a sunny beach while it is the middle of winter!

Keep your feet protected from sharp rocks or shards of shell with a pair of stylish water sandals.

Keen makes several of the best-selling options for women including the Venice H2 and the Whisper.

Other popular options by Teva like the Hurricane and the Tirra have a different look and fit, but all the same function.

Keen and Teva also offer some the best-selling sandals for men like the Hurricane and the Newport.

You might also like the fit or styling of the Cambiran Stretch from Merrell or the TechSun 2 from Columbia Sportswear.

Best Traditional Water Shoes

For many people, when we think of water shoes, we don’t think sandals or multi-purpose, we think old-school water shoes like the ones we had when we were kids.

The ones with the rubber bottom and the mesh top.

These are still essentials for people who love to spend their time water skiing on the lake, jet skiing in an ocean bay, or chasing children along the beach.

Speedo provides super-stylish options for both sexes, the Beach Runner for women and the Cruiser for men.

The unisex Aqua from Aquatik combines the traditional look with a more adjustable fit.

Best Running Water Shoe

A dear friend of mine can’t say enough great things about her FiveFingers Trek outdoor shoes by Vibram.

Although they have an unconventional look, think shoe-shaped toe socks, are made to protect your feet while offering your body the benefits of walking barefoot like strengthening muscles and improving posture problems that can be caused by wearing shoes all the time.

Perfect for land and sea adventures or just a day-trip to your favorite amusement park, these non-traditional shoes might be just what you need for all your outdoor fun.

Vibram makes several options for women and men including the Trek, the Sprint, and the Bikila.

Fila offers the same concept with different styling in their Skele-toes brand which are less expensive than Vibram’s options.

Customer reviews indicate that this may be a case of you get what you pay for, Vibram costs more but often fits better and lasts longer.
Best Water Shoes five fingers

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Best for Airplane Rides

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

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Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Whether your travel includes a family road trip, a business flight, or a day at the beach, ensure you are ready to enjoy the scenes but not the sounds.

Here are the best noise cancelling headphones to make sure you are not bothering your fellow travelers no matter where your travels take you.

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Best for Airplane Rides and Life

Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic

We never heard of this brand but were thrilled with this product as it is considerably more affordable than other noise cancelling headphones with all the same features.

Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones are exceptionally comfortable.

They eliminate background noises with super-soft ear cups.

The Plantronics technology offers up to 24 hours of listening while providing 330 feet of Bluetooth range, like all class 1 Bluetooth devices.

These work great for audiobooks, movies and music.

What’s great is that you don’t need to have the cord plugged in.

There are dual microphones built into these headphones so you can use Bluetooth for calls without any wire.

There is a cable for a physical connection, and using them both ways works well.

One minor complaint is while they fold flat, they don’t fold “up.”

Audio Technica Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones

With a design created around providing a hi-fidelity experience and noise reduction features that eliminate 90% of the background noise, it is easy to see why these noise cancelling headphones are on our list.

The ear cups are soft and flexible and the set folds flat for easy storage.

Ideal for traveling, these Audio Technica lightweight headphones include an adapter that is compatible with most airlines in-flight entertainment systems, meaning you can plug your headphones directly into the seat jack if you want to watch movies during flight.

They can’t quite duplicate the battery life of Bose, but 40 hours of entertainment is still a bargain.

Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

When it comes to sound, nobody beats Bose.

And when it comes to noise cancelling headphones, they even take the prize for the absence of sound, as Amazon’s customers have selected the Bose QuietComfort 15 as the top rated choice.

If you are planning to fly this year and want to sleep on the plane but seem to have difficulty falling asleep in a strange noisy place like a plane, these headphones can be your salvation.

Great for business travelers, they reduce noise across the spectrum, covering a number of frequencies.

The over-the-ear fit and comfort styling make them ideal for plane rides.

These must-have headphones can also act as a remote control for your iPod/iPhone and provide hands-free calling functionality.

With a 35 hour battery life and weighing barely more than half a pound, these headphones are worthy of the Bose name.

Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphone – Noise Canceling Headphones

Although you might not normally associate legendary rapper Dr. Dre with an absence of noise, who better than the “Master of Mixology” to create top rated headphones, even if they are as good at cancelling noise out as they are for letting you listen in.

In fact, by blocking the external noise, the Beats Studio wireless headphones bring more life to the music and allow the listener to hear is as the artist intended.

The over-the-ear style headphones are designed for comfort and focus on providing a balanced, full-depth music experience.

Compatible with iPod/iPhone, the built-in mic allows you to take calls effortlessly.

They weigh in at less than a pound.

Beats Studio headphones require two AAA batteries.

They come with a rugged case to protect your Beats wherever the music takes you.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Best travel headphones

When you are looking for the best travel headphones and best noise-canceling headphone, you want to be sure it’s convenient to take with you.

It needs to be the ultimate travel companion.

These all are lightweight and collapsible.

They also all offer a long battery life.

These offer a flexible ear-cup designs to ensure a comfortable fit for any face.

These noise cancelling headphones are excellent at blocking out low frequency noise like automobiles and airplane engines.

They offer a good value.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your music and movies without disturbing anyone around you with these best travel headphones.

Your fellow travelers will thank you for using noise cancelling headphones.

Then enjoy them in other situations “on land” as well in noisy situations.

They will be great to use when mowing the lawn.

Using Your Cell Phone when traveling:

How do I use my cell phone while traveling to Asia

Best Portable DVD Player Review for Travel

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Best Portable DVD Player – Every year, families across the country pile into their cars or get on planes to set out, see the sights, and participate in that time honored tradition – the family vacation.

One of the most popular diversions for kids on a long trip, are the best portable DVD players for travel that helps keeps kids entertained.

Check out these top-rated portable DVD players that are tailor-made to ease the trials and tribulations of traveling, no matter how far you have to go.

Best Portable DVD Players for Travel Reviews

Coby 7-Inch Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player

This full featured DVD player also doubles as a CD player and an MP3 player.

The 7-inch screen offers a clear, concise picture and is just the right size to make viewing easy without losing portability.

Don’t forget the headphones, which easily plug into the unit, so your daughter can watch The Princess and the Frog over and over without you having to listen in.

It weighs less than 3 pounds and can easily be handled by children as well as teens.

With a family-friendly price, this deal can’t be beat.

We bought it for a trip but now use it primarily for home.

Our preschools can safely operate it to watch their videos.

We have taken it with us for road trips and for airplane rides but our primary use has been to use it at home.

Which our kids do almost daily!

Sylvania 13.3-Inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player with USB/SD Card Reader

Before we ever considered buying a portable DVD player for travel, we wanted one for home.

We donated our DVD player years before having kids.

After having kids, we found that sometimes we (or they) wanted to watch a video.

We were out of luck until we found this portable DVD player by Sylvania.

The 13.3 inch screen makes it much larger than traditional portable DVD players so we can view it from farther away than our laps.

Several people can watch it at once, and we all see it fine.

Our kids mostly use the Coby (above), so we (the adults) use this for watching movies elsewhere in our home.

We’ve also taken it on trips to a relative’s cabin where there isn’t internet.

The kids gather around at night to watch DVDs while the parents relax without worrying about them.

There is great picture quality and resolution.

We are also very happy with the sound which comes from the two internal speakers.

It also comes with earbuds.

The buttons are straightforward and easy to navigate.

It is very lightweight and is convenient for travel.
best Portable DVD Players

RCA Twin Mobile DVD Players

Similar in form and function to the Philips dual player, this RCA mobile DVD player comes with two separate remotes.

Ensure no one will fight over the remote controls!

Both players can be mounted on the back of a car headrest and have a 7-inch LCD screen.

Each unit has separate built-in speakers while the headphones or earbuds can be plugged into the convenient jack for quiet enjoyment.

The package includes A/C adapters and car adapters for both units.

This will enable you to split the two players up, using one it the car and one in the house.

You can even use them in two different locations while traveling.

All in all, these twin players are double the fun.

If your son wants to watch a different movie than your daughter or your hubby is into action and you are craving romance, each of you can watch your own movie since the player can play the same movie for both screens or a separate movie on each.

It is lightweight and stores easily.

It is almost like getting a two for one deal.

Sylvania 13.3-Inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player with USB/SD Card Reader

This portable DVD player has a 13.3-inch screen.

We bought this Sylvania large screen DVD player after our beloved Coby 7-inch — after hundreds (maybe thousands?) hours of use — played its last video.

It had a good run but we wanted a larger screen because most of the time we found ourselves used the DVD player for home use much more than for traveling.

When we all squish together on the coach to watch a video, we have definitely enjoyed this larger screen.

It has good resolution and sound.

It takes a little over three hours to fully charge.

There’s a green light so you know when it’s charged.

Our kids can watch DVDs for about two and a half hours before we plug it in again.

Sylvania Portable DVD Player 7-Inch, Swivel Screen

For the price, this is one of the best portable DVD players around.

This model from Sylvania is easy to tote, and its no-nonsense price will make you happy too.

It’s another one of the smaller ones, with a 7-inch screen, yet it includes all the bells and whistles of the more expensive competitors, including the swivel screen.

We’ve taken this with us in the car 12 – 15 times and found it easy to use with the standard plug and car lighter adapter.

We’ve gotten between 4 – 5 hours of use on a charge, depending if we fully charged it before using it.

The only thing that we might be critical of is the tote bag it comes with.

It doesn’t offer any padding or protection.

Best portable DVD players for travel

These portable DVD players can also be a treasure for business travelers, retirees and moms and dads on the go.

They would make a great addition to a summer cottage or house boat.

They are great for use at home for relaxing or during an illness or recovery.

Our kids love using it for watching movies at home.

No matter your budget, these are the best portable DVD players available.

What’s best for you?

A 13.3 inch screen or one that is 7 or 9 inches?

Get one for your next trip and get through the stress of traveling easier.

It will keep the kids entertained for hours while you get to finally read that book you’ve been carrying around.

It may even help preserve your sanity when you’re stuck in the airport or on the tarmac.

Please all the kids in the backseat or on the plane with this one while the adults enjoy some quiet time!

Whether you plan to use it in the car or in an airplane, you will be so glad you bought one.

Energy Monitor Review of Belkin and Kill A Watt

Belkin Conserve Insight Review

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While I have good intentions, I am still guilty of leaving gadgets plugged in when they don’t need to be.

I charge my phone all night and my computer all day and leave the TV plugged in all of the time.

I thought about trying an energy monitor to see how high my household energy consumption was.

Read on for an energy monitor review of Belkin and Kill A Watt products, and how they’ve already made an impact on our energy consumption.

I’m always looking for ways to decrease my environmental impact at home.

I recycle and compost, use the A/C sparingly, and turn the lights off when I leave a room.

I’ve replaced every bulb in my house with an LED one when possible.

Even more, I try to run my dishwasher and washing machine at night during the extreme seasons in the Midwest, in July-August and January-February.

I do it in other months as well if I can.

Still, I knew there were more easy ways to save money on my electric bills.

Energy monitor review

Here are the latest and most practical electricity-saving gadgets I tested.

Belkin Conserve Insight review

The Belkin Conserve Insight is an energy monitor that’s incredibly easy to use.

You plug it into the wall, then plug your appliance of choice into the Insight, and you’ll have an energy reading in a matter of minutes.

The display is easy to read.

The Insight can help you prioritize appliance purchases.

How bad is that 30 year old refrigerator, really?

It will even show you the energy usage difference between, say, a lamp with a CFL bulb and the same lamp with an incandescent one.

You can see the results measured in dollars, watts, and CO2 emissions.

You can also use the Cost Tracking Feature to track energy usage of a certain appliance over time to give you a better idea of how much energy you’re using on a longer-term basis.

Conserve Insight is a smart investment for any environmentally conscious household and those who want to save money on their electric bills.

energy monitor review
Belkin Conserve Insight

Kill A Watt review

The P3 P4400 Kill A Watt is available at an unbelievably low price for all it does.

It’s easy to use and like the Belkin, I found it incredibly fun to use as well.

It is interesting to see how efficient — or not — you and your electrical appliances really are.

I like this because it gives you a way to cut down on what are usually considered “fixed costs.”

You can actually make a difference in your energy bill!

We all know it is a pain to go around plugging and unplugging appliances.

What’s great now is that you can easily find out which appliances are okay and “worth” being plugged in and which are energy guzzlers that you should unplug if you can.

I would loved to have received this as a gift.

It’s easy to figure out your electrical expenses for the year, month, week, or by the day.

It is wonderful for high-energy users like refrigerators and air conditioners too.

Find out how efficient they are and whether it makes sense to invest in a new one.

Belkin Conserve Socket review

This isn’t really an energy monitor, but it’s in the same category of products.

Work to save money on your energy costs.

I might love the Belkin Conserve Socket.

While the energy monitor tells me how much an electrical item is using, this product helps me to do something about it.

It’s so simple to use, yet it has the potential to conserve so much energy.

To use the socket, you simply plug it into an outlet, plug your appliance of choice into the Socket, and set the timer for 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours.

After the designated time, the Socket turns off and your appliance automatically stops drawing electricity from the outlet.

I use the Socket all of the time when I’m charging my phone or computer, but it would also be great for people who rush out the door in the morning and forget to turn off the toaster oven or curling iron.

If you plug your appliance in and set it for 30 minutes, it will turn off even if you forget to unplug it.

For under $20, you can make your home more sustainable and safer.

energy monitor review
Belkin Conserve Socket

Why get a power monitor

There really aren’t many ways you can deliberately save money on major ongoing household bills, and utility bills can really be high, especially at certain times of the year if you don’t live in a temperate climate.

Here’s a real chance to do something about them.

You don’t have to be at the mercy of your appliances and the electric company!

After reading this energy monitor review you can see how gadgets like these are long overdue in the US.

Now they’re widely available, easy to use, and inexpensive.

And they’re fun.

I would recommend them to everyone looking for easy ways to reduce their environmental impact.

They are affordable, and they can end up saving you money on your energy bills.

They make great gifts too.

Now I just need to get some solar panels, and I’ll be all set!

SNCF Train: Guide to Traveling France by Rail

SNCF Train: Guide to Traveling France by Rail

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SNCF Train – Using unfamiliar forms of transportation can be incredibly stressful, especially in a foreign country where you don’t know the rules or, worse, the language.

As many Americans don’t have experience with train travel, I found myself giving extremely detailed advice to friends who planned to visit France.

Armed with this guide and vocabulary, you will be worry-free when you take the rails.

Beginner’s Guide to Swiss Glacier Express Train

About France’s SNCF Train (The French Railway System)

The French railway system, SNCF, is a government-owned network of trains throughout the country.

Even small towns have their own railway stations, and the really tiny villages are usually linked to the rail network via SNCF bus.

The high-speed TGV links France’s largest cities and will get you to your destination in no time flat—for a price, while the TER provides regional trains linking cities within regions.

The French rail system is usually quite punctual.

Be aware that national strikes and inclement weather can cause major delays, however.
SNCF Train: Guide to Traveling France by Rail
photo credit: Matt Seppings

How to Buy Your Ticket

If you plan on doing a substantial amount of traveling within the country, you may want to consider getting a France Rail Pass.

These are only available to non-European residents before your departure abroad, so be sure to plan ahead.

You can get a ticket for 3-9 days of travel within a month.

If you are only going to be taking the regional trains, all you need is your rail pass to board.

Any TGV train, however, will require you to buy a seat reservation in addition to your pass.

Tip: if you can, buy these reservations within France rather than through the Rail Europe website.

When I had my pass in fall 2010 it cost 3€ to get a seat reservation at a French train station versus $11 to buy it through the website.

If you only plan on taking one or two day trips, you can buy your ticket through many online websites.

The TER ticket prices remain stable, but the TGV ticket prices increase the longer you wait.

If you book your ticket about a month in advance you’ll be privy to “PREM” prices—a significant discount.

Travelers aged 12-25 who plan to be in France for a few months should strongly consider buying the Carte 12-25, which gives discounts of 25-50% on all train travel.

The card is good for a year after you buy it, even if you buy it on the eve of your 26th birthday.

What to Do at the Train Station

Plan on getting there 20-30 minutes before your train is due to depart.

Unless you’re taking the Eurostar or another international train, you won’t need to go through any security measures.

In the main lobby of any train station there will be a big board that has all the trains by number, hour of departure, the name of the stop at the end of the line, and the platform number.

You’ll see a lot of people congregated around it, looking up.

Oftentimes, the platform number won’t appear until a half hour or so before the train is due to depart.

So don’t fret if you don’t see one listed right away.

Just watch for it to appear as your departure nears.

If you’ve chosen an e-ticket option, you’ll need to print that out at one of the yellow kiosks using your six-letter e-ticket number and your last name.

You can choose to use the kiosks in English.

How to Validate Your Ticket

Before you board the train, you’ll need to stamp your ticket you just printed, or “composter le billet” (/com-pos-tay luh bee-yay/).

There are yellow machines outside the entrances to the platforms where you must insert your ticket to stamp the date and time on the edge.

This is to ensure you don’t try to use the same ticket on multiple journeys.SNCF Train Ticket Machine, France

Here is a picture of the machine for stamping the ticket:

How to Board the Train

After you’ve arrived on your platform you can feel free to board the train.

On the right side of your ticket it will say what voiture (car) you’re in.

This is written next to each door of the train.

Your seat number will be under that.

The train cars usually either have a big “1” or “2” on them– this is to demarcate whether it’s a first or second class car.

There are luggage racks at either end of a car, and sometimes in the middle as well.

If you’re able to put your bag on the ledge above your seat, do that.

There have been some instances of theft on the trains.

If you can’t fit it above you, just saunter by nonchalantly every now and then to check on it.

Don’t be too conspicuous about it or you’ll make your bag a target.

What to Expect on the Train

While you’re on the train, an employee will come around to check tickets.

Present him/her with your composted ticket, along with any other pass or discount card.

If everything is up to snuff the employee will punch your ticket and move on.

TGV trains will usually have a food and beverage cart where you can get a snack.

Be sure to pay attention for your stop, as not all conductors will announce the name of the town when you arrive.

Train Vocabulary

Gare (/gar/): train station

Voie (/vwah/): platform

Arrete (/a-RET/): stop

Composter (/com-pos-TAY/): to stamp

Billet (/bee-YAY/): ticket

TGV (/tay-zhay-vay/): train à grand vitesse– high speed train

TER (/tay-euh-air/): regional train

Guichet (/GEE-shay/): ticket counter

Voiture (/vwah-TYUR/): train car

Place assise (/plahce a-SEEZ/): seat

Je cherche (/juh sherche/): I’m looking for…

Parlez-vous anglais? (/par-LAY voo an-GLAY/): Do you speak English?

This post is part of a series about France and teaching abroad, written by our dear friend Nina Petersen-Perlman.

Nina Petersen-Perlman has visited Paris on 13 different occasions, eight of which were during the last year when she was an English teaching assistant in a small town in Burgundy.

Paris In a Day ~ How to See Paris in 25 Hours

It’s not hard to see why Paris is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Europe.

You get slapped in the face with charm and whimsy just taking a stroll practically anywhere in the city, what with all the boulevards and the quaint boulangeries and the riverboats and the amour in the air.

Navigating the city, especially on a tight time-frame, can be a bit of a nightmare, however.

There are simply so many incredible and worthy things to see that you may feel discouraged before you even begin your weekend jaunt.

The following itinerary is one I made for my friends visiting France for the first time who were going to be in Paris for a mere 25 hours during a quick stopover from England.

It was whirlwind and hectic, to be sure, but I think I gave them a good taste of what the city had to offer.

Paris In a Day

Saturday, 11:00:

I picked my friends up at the Gare du Nord when the Eurostar train came in.

They had a large suitcase and carry-on apiece, which we heaved up and down multiple sets of stairs on the métro.

I must reiterate: Paris was not built to accommodate the weak-kneed.

We found and checked into our hotel in the St. Germain des Près neighborhood.

12:30-13:00:

We took a stroll down the Boulevard St. Germain des Près, stopping for some savory crêpes on the way, and then poked around in the quarter’s eponymous church for a look-see.

Crêpes are a ubiquitous—and cheap—street food in Paris. You can get them savory or sweet (or one of both).

13:00-13:30:

Even though my friends would only be there for a short time, I needed to give them a taste of my favorite French pastry: macarons.

In my humble opinion, there is no better place to get them than Ladurée, also known as my happy place.

Please get the salted caramel and then get ready to swoon with ecstasy.

We took our loot from the St. Germain shop on Rue Bonaparte and then headed down to the banks of the Seine while we waited for a riverboat cruise to dock.

Tea and pastries at Ladurée

13:30-14:30:

We paddled in our Batobus toward the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint Louis, made a loop around them, and continued west until we stopped at the Eiffel Tower, passing the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay on the way.

These bateaux mouches are a great way to get your bearings when you first arrive in the city.

14:30-16:00:

Thankfully my guests heeded my pleas not to waste their precious time climbing the tower, but were content to snap some photos in front of it and take a peek beneath it.

Be extremely aware of your personal belongings when you’re around big tourist traps like this, or you’re bound to leave lighter in the wallet than when you came.

After they’d had their Ei-fill of wandering about, we got back in line to take the Batobus to the Musée D’Orsay.

16:00-17:30:

This was apparently the perfect time to go to the Musée D’Orsay, home to works by Van Gogh, Dégas, Seurat, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Renoir, and others.

Unlike every other time I’ve gone, there was absolutely no line to wait in.

We gazed upon masterpiece after masterpiece until the museum shut its doors for the night.

17:30-19:00:

To reward my friends for agreeing not to mount the Eiffel Tower, I took them up to Montmartre for an aerial view of the city.

We got off at the Abesses métro stop (tip: take the elevator to avoid the billion stairs to the top) and headed up the hill to the Sacré Coeur basilica. The church features beautiful mosaics.

19:00-20:30:

By this time we were exhausted from all the wandering and the stairs and the crowds, so we just plopped down at the first good-looking restaurant we happened upon.

We feasted upon escargots as a starter, duck with honey sauce and boeuf bourguignon as a main course, and crème brûlée and mousse au chocolat for dessert.

We shared a bottle of Bordeaux.

Most restaurants will have a menu, a fixed-price, multi-course meal.

If this is going to be your only real meal in Paris, go all out!

Try something a little scary but delightfully French.

20:30-21:00:

I hatched a plan to take mes amies on a forced march through nighttime Paris so they could see some of the important things we wouldn’t have time for on Sunday.

Our first stop was the Moulin Rouge, which is on a very lewd streets with sex shops as far as the eye can see.

We then took the métro to Opéra, so they could see the magnificent rococo opera house in real life after seeing the model of it in the Musée D’Orsay.

21:00-22:00:

We walked down the Avenue de l’Opéra to the Louvre, the gigantic palace that is now one of the world’s most important art museums.

We arrived just as lights on the Eiffel Tower began to sparkle.

Which it does every night starting at 10:00 for five minutes on the hour.

22:00-23:30:

We strolled along the Seine until we reached Notre Dame, and paused to watch a group of buff French rollerblading make magic with their limbs along a course of overturned cups.

We got a bit lost on our last leg of the trip, but we made it back to the hotel safe and sound, and promptly passed out.

Notre Dame at night

Sunday, 9:00-10:30:

After breakfast at the hotel, we set out for Notre Dame.

My friends toured the cathedral while I waited in line to go up the towers.

This was a perfect plan, because by the time they were done exploring the line had stretched down the block.

We climbed the tight spiral staircases to the top, and were rewarded with magnificent views of the city.

View of Montmartre (and Sacré Coeur) from the top of Notre Dame

10:30-11:00:

We trucked over to Saint Chapelle cathedral, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cité.

It’s home to beautiful stained glass windows.

We were properly awestruck, and glad we went.

Stained glass windows at Sainte Chapelle

11:00-12:00:

I took a slight detour so I should show the bibliophiles Shakespeare & Co., a Left-Bank, English-language bookstore where Hemmingway used to hang out.

We got some panini sandwiches at a nearby street stand for lunch, and then hightailed it back to the hotel so we could catch the métro in time for our respective trains.

25 hours in Paris: c’est possible!

Travel in Paris: Top 6 Tips

Paris is an enormous city with delicious food and wine, museums for every taste, and thousands of years of history.

If you don’t have much time to spend there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

These tips should help you get where you need to go with the maximum amount of time for soaking up the magic of Paris.

Wear comfortable walking shoes

Yes, the underground métro network is extensive, but you are still going to need to hoof it up and down more flights of stairs than you ever dreamed possible to get to and from the stations.

Buy Your Tickets in Bulk

Buy your métro tickets in carnets (CAR-nay), packs of 1

Split it with your travel companion if you don’t think you’ll use them all yourself to save a few Euros.

Go in the Off-Season

The best time to travel is October through March if you want to avoid the gigantic hordes of tourists.

December, around Christmas time, also gets busy.

Paris Tips Patisserie

photo credit: HerryLawford

Get a Good Guidebook

Invest in a good Paris city guide with a pull-out street and métro map.

Skip the Eiffel Tower

The lines are insane at any time of year and the tickets are pricey.

If you want an aerial view of the city, try climbing the Arc de Triomphe.

The tight spiral staircase will make your thighs burn, but you’ll have a great view of Parisian landmarks, and you’ll actually get to have the Eiffel Tower itself in your photos.

Skip the Louvre

If you’re only going to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, skip that too.

There is always a horde of people surrounding the painting, which is behind glass.

You can’t get a very good look at it.

Nina Petersen-Perlman has visited Paris on 13 different occasions, eight of which were during the last year when she was an English teaching assistant in a small town in Burgundy.

8 Tips for Going Green This Summer

Going Green This Summer

Updated:

Summer is officially here and it’s the perfect time to think about ways to reduce your environmental impact.

From food and shopping to traveling and entertainment, we’ve got you covered with tips for going green this summer.

What is going green exactly?

Read on to find all about the benefits of going green and going green facts.

The buzz word of late seems to be going green.

Everyone from automobile makers to mobile phone makers seem to be flaunting their green credentials.

But what does going green mean for you and me?

What are some of the smaller things that we can all incorporate in our lives and encourage others around us to make those choices?

What is ‘Going Green’ to the average person?

It basically means maximizing your finite resources by utilizing only as much as necessary.

Here are some of the things that all of us can do and proudly join the going green wagon.

Get active

This is the simplest thing that all of us can aim for in our lives.

Get of that couch!

Walk that small distance or ride a bike.

It will help cut down on the automobile emissions and get you in shape.

Win-win.

Go Paperless

Chances are that all your bills are available online so there really is no sense in having all those bills delivered to you every month.

Contact your utility companies, your phone companies and the rest and tell them that an e bill will be sufficient for you.

Save Water

Water conservation is going to be one of the big struggles ahead of us down the line.

Using low intensity showers, switching off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving are all small but extremely useful things that all of us can incorporate in our daily lives.

Reuse

Reuse what you ask? Reuse everything that you can.

Use reusable coffee mugs, reuse the packages and shopping bags, glass water bottles…. You get the idea.

Buy green

It is now mandatory in large parts of the country and the world to have a green rating on all your appliances.

Look for the ones that have a good energy rating and try and buy that one please.

It may cost a little more but it will pay for itself over its lifetime of use in energy savings.

A lot of appliances are available that help you save energy.

The Nest thermostat is one that has attracted attention over the last year or so that is ‘intelligent’ enough to understand your energy needs to adjust itself accordingly and save energy.

This is just one example of the most popular one, however there is no dearth of other companies offering similar advantages.

Eat local

You may ask what is going green in that?

Well, it’s the transportation cost to the environment of shipping food across the world that needs to be cut down rather than ‘organic’ food.

Take an interest in where your produce is coming from and try and buy local.

Shopping at your local farmer’s market is a useful way to go green: Traveling Locavore

Recycle

It is old school and not as glamorous as filling your car with vegetable oil but it works.

And everyone can do it.

Make sure you distinguish between what can be recycled and separate your trash accordingly. Does your recycling make a difference?

All of these things do not require any investment on your part other than an interest in saving the environment.

Or, at the very least, not worsening it.
benefits of going green

All about the benefits of going green

The benefits of going green lie in the well-being of our planet earth.

“Going green” is the new catch phrase that we find in everywhere; be it a TV commercial, or a poster or a book or in our favorite TV shows.

Its existence everywhere has somewhere reduced the very importance of its purpose in our minds.

Let’s have quick refresher on the benefits of going green.

Commercial Benefits of going green:

Reduce in expense:

Any green activity causes reduction in use of energy, money and other resources which in turn helps organizations to reduce on their expenses

Brand Value:

Any organization following green measures are looked up as a reliable and responsible brand to go with.

Hence it enhances the brand value of the organization.

Energetic Employees:

It is observed that workforce in an eco-friendly work place produce better output and reduces absenteeism.

5 Simple Ways to Recycle Your Electronics

Appreciation of building:

The value of green workplace has minimum depreciation and in fact it appreciates with time and tenants are also more attracted to get such places for happier and productive workforces

Natural Benefits going green:

Cleaner environment:

Benefits of going green activities results into betterment of air and water quality that we consume every second.

That is a pollution free environment for a healthy society

Reduced Garbage:

It helps to reduce the huge waste a society accumulates over time.

And promotes recycling of the same to be reused.

Conserved Energy:

By using alternative energy sources like solar electricity, hydro electricity, wind tunnel etc and reduce the waste of electricity consumption green initiative helps us conserve precious energy resources.

Conserved resources:

Reducing, reusing and recycling; the three pillars of green initiative prompts to reduces the use of all the resources.

Conservation of water & forest eco-system:

By cutting less trees to make papers, stopping animal hunting and recycling water we can establish the ecosystem of forests which is currently under threat.

Go-green measures to increase the benefits of going green

Reduce:

Reducing means cutting down on waste by using less in the first place.

For example, we could use less packaging. Some food are wrapped in plastic, but instead we could buy them without packaging.

Also, while going for shopping if we carry a shopping bag with us, we would reduce the use of a plastic carry bag for or shopped items.

Or for instance, we can reduce a huge load of papers available online by not printing them.

We can always read and share those papers online by email etc which will in turn save a lot of tree to remain alive.

Reduce the use of water for bath by just turning the tap off in the right time.

Reuse:

We can use things again instead of throwing them away.

We can promote reusing as a practice starting from our homes.

There are god examples to get inspired.

You can donate your unwanted clothes, books, toys to orphanages or other social centers for under privileged people.

You can start having an exchange program within your friends.

If you are done reading a book, you can exchange it for a book that you have not read from your friends.

Instead of buying containers for kitchen ingredients, you can reuse the bottles of empty ingredients to store the new ones.

Recycle:

After the consumption or use of the material it can be reformed to be used again.

And the Importance of recycling is huge when it comes to the well being of our planet.

There are several ways we can do recycling at home.

For example, we can keep our kitchen organic wastes in a pot to reform it to become organic compost for our garden plants.

Another way of recycling could be to use hard boxes and colored wrapping sheets to be used as handicraft items.

Benefits of going green is holistic and makes things better and healthier all around us and for generations to come.

It surely worth that one extra step to go ahead and do our bit to give it back to the nature.
Going green facts

Going green facts

There is a lot of misinformation that is floating around everywhere when it comes to facts about the changing environment.

Everyone seems to have an agenda and a propaganda that they want to further.

So in a situation like this what are the facts that you and me can rely on?

Keeping this in mind we have compiled some essential irrefutable going green facts.

Climate Change

Climate Change is the gravest threat to humanity.

You know all the movies which show some space rock coming in and destroying the world.

Yes it seems scary and it is.

But is also highly unlikely that such an even will ever occur.

There is a mathematical chance of course but there is not really much we can do about it.

On the other hand there is environment change which is slowly progressing to irretrievable levels every single day.

It is the slow and insidious nature of this threat that has kept it from capturing public imagination till now.

All scientists agree on this fact now.

Climate change is a reality that we will all have to face, quite possibly within our lifetime.

Every little counts

There is a feeling that what little we can do is probably insufficient to cause any change whatsoever and so probably not worth doing it at all.

No, that is definitely not the case.

Small changes that all of us incorporated in our lifestyles will add up to real and significant lessening of strain on our resources.

Take that small walk to the convenience store, carpool, take shorter showers and reuse as much as possible.

You are making a difference, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Environment change

Environment change affects all of us.

This is not something that anyone of us can run from.

Not the richest or the strongest or the most politically well-connected.

Environment change will affect all facets of industry and all levels of society.

It is up to the educated ones among us to make the others aware of the danger.

Changing weather patterns have already emerged.

Everyday you read something about bizarre weather patterns in some part of the world.

This is not just coincidence and is not something that will go away.

Change in temperature, rainfall and other such local weather conditions affect the crops, vegetation and animals of that area.

All of these changes directly affect us.

These are signs of more significant things to come.

The sad part however is that we fail to learn even after repeated warnings.

Our ecosystem is unstable right now, and there is no way that it can sustain this level of imbalance over a long period of time.

These are some of the going green facts that no one in the world can argue against.

The difficult part is to impress upon people the danger that lies ahead of all of us and our generations to come if drastic and immediate changes are not made.

Future generations will look at us as the ones that failed them if we do not act now.

Now that you know what is going green, all about the benefits of going green, and some going green facts, you surely can do your part to help the world.
Benefits of Going Green

All About the Benefits of Going Green This Summer

Go to the Farmer’s Market

Eat local this summer by getting your produce, meat, eggs, and baked good at your local farmer’s market.

That squash from the farm 20 miles away will have a much lower environmental impact than a grocery store

Bought squash that was shipped across the country.

Plus, fresh, local food tastes better.

Shop at Garage Sales

Tis the season for scavenging for used goods.

Garage, rummage, and yard sales abound.

Take advantage of them and buy what you need there.

Not only will it save you serious money, you’ll be able to re-use perfectly good items.

Plus, your find will be free of the excessive, wasteful packaging that accompanies new items.

Get Outside and Save Electricity

Spend time away from the TV and computer and wile away the summer gardening, reading outside, and walking around the neighborhood.

You’ll save electricity by turning off the TV, turning up the A/C, and shutting off the lights.

Plus, you’ll get to experience summer outdoors.
Going Green This Summer
image credit: Ecstatic Mark

Opt for a Staycation Over a Vacation

Avoid airports, congested roads, and crowded resorts.

Instead, have a family “staycation”.

A vacation without leaving your home.

Set some ground rules (no work for the entire weekend, no friends/just family time), plan your itinerary, and get started!

Grow Your Own Food

There’s no need to trek to the grocery store when you have lettuce growing in your backyard.

Your meals can be made with fresh, organic, local produce — grown by you.

It’s easier than you might think to start a home garden.

It will save you trips to the store and time.

How to Start a Greenhouse

Stay in the Neighborhood

Instead of driving to the fancy park across town, spend time in your neighborhood park.

Opt for restaurants and grocery stores that are close to home.

You’ll reduce your environmental impact and save time because you won’t have to travel as far.

Bike and Walk More

Now that the weather is lovely and sunny, opt to bike or walk to your destination instead of hopping in the car.

It might take a little longer, but you’ll get exercise, spend time outside, and better experience summer.

Search Out Local Entertainment

You don’t need to travel far to find good summertime entertainment.

In the warmer months, music festivals, neighborhood art shows, and movies in the park abound.

Take advantage of your neighborhood’s offerings.

You’ll meet new people and have experiences you would otherwise miss out on.

Best of all, most of these offerings are free and nearby.

What is Going Green – Significance of Conserving Energy

So what is Going Green? Going Green is a popular term used by environmentalists today.

You may also have heard the term in the news or must have read it in your newspaper.

You must have also seen a group of people protesting against industries and the pollution they create, in the streets holding slogans that say “Go Green or Go Home!” or “Protect Our Environment”, etc.

But have you ever really thought about what is going green?

What is Going Green

Well for starters what is going green?

Going green refers to actions which result in the promotion and protection of the environment and the climate.

Do not forget about the protection of endangered species and other animals.

For example, due to global warming, the arctic ice is melting and the climate is getting warmer by a few degrees each year.

This directly affects the habitat of that region.

Many polar bears die each year due to lack of food and warmth.

Another instance can be the endangerment of honey bees due to increased use of pesticides.

Pesticides kill honey bees and that can be increasingly dangerous for the planet’s biodiversity.

Without honey bees pollinating the plants, almost 80% of the planet’s plant life will disappear which will directly affect the global populace as agriculture will suffer.

Without honey bees there will be no honey and without honey many medications and treatment will cease to exist.

Going green is an important thing but what is going green without knowing anything about it?

People often say that they want to participate wholeheartedly in cleaning up the environment but do not know where to start.

Well, you can start going green right from your home.

Going green involves developing systems and processes which work in harmony with the environment and to reduce the use of chemicals and toxic substances which pollute the climate all around you.

The ozone layer is slowly depleting due to increased industrial activity in the world.

China, for example, is known for its mass industrial power and the pollution that is destroying people’s lives.

Majority of the Chinese population have to work wearing breathing masks to avoid inhaling smog and smoke. 

What is going green if you do not implement necessary measures?

Everybody can start giving something back to the environment.

After all, there is hardly any person who can say that he/she does not pollute.

This planet is your only home.

Unlike in sci-fi movies where when earth is destroyed by man, colonies of men are shifted to another planet; that is not going to happen with you.

If the planet ceases to be the way it is and the environment deteriorates further, the future generations would suffer.

Moreover, the Earth will become uninhabitable to a large extent.

Going green means discovering and implementing alternative energy sources and preserving fossil fuels so that fewer pollutants harm the air around you.

What is Going Green: Global Awareness

Governments all over the globe, along with nongovernmental organizations, propagate and circulate public awareness regarding what is going green and what each individual should do to protect the environment.

Note that the pollution which was a direct result of the industrial revolution was the first cause for concern regarding the environment’s survival.

Today, due to urbanization, globalization and industrialization, the environments is suffering a painful blow resulting in extreme weather conditions and global warming.

Governments all around the world are trying to find ways to promote the health of the environment by cutting down industrial pollution but so far nothing positive has come out of the efforts.

There are still trees being cut down in numbers reaching thousands each year for the production of various industrial and common use products.

With fewer trees around, there will be deforestation and with deforestation, millions of species of animals will go extinct.

It is their natural habitat which is being destroyed.

Without trees there will be no circulation of clean air, trees have the ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Once a tree is cut down, a source of clean air is killed which could have served its purpose for many years to come.

How is the Planet Being Affected?

The planet’s eco-system is affected in a number of ways as a result of man-made pollutants.

Previously, when there were no major regulations or laws against chemical waste disposal, various companies used to dump their chemical waste into rivers to dispose them off.

This resulted in the marine life of many water bodies going extinct.

People who used the water from these sources also suffered as a result of the contamination.

But nowadays, industries are regularized and are legally bound to set up water treatment systems to convert and treat the waste water from factories and households into more pure and usable water.

In many cases, the water that is treated can be recycled and used for other applications, or the waste can even be recycled to be used as applications for industrial purposes.

For example, you can recycle glass, paper, plastic, etc. Recycling is a major part of what is going green.

In what is going green, the major source of pollution is the heavy usage of oil, gas and other fossil fuels mostly used to power industries.

These fossil fuels will someday run out (adding to the damage).

The use of these fuels directly results in the emission of dangerous fumes and gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrousoxide.

These are known as greenhouse gases which pollute the air and the environment.

If you want to know what is going green, then it is imperative that you understand that burning fossil fuels in order to harness energy from it also produces a lot of carbon dioxide.

According to research done recently, it is indicated that the total percentage of carbon dioxide which is produced by burning fossil fuels, the environment can only process half of it.

This percentage is expected to decrease with each passing day due to deforestation.

The other half of the carbon dioxide produced is left unprocessed and that is what damages the environment and increase health risks.

This is in turn damages the planet’s ecosystem and thus results in global warming which pertains to drastic changes in the climate of the planet.

But there are steps that are being taken to prevent this damage and other forms of renewable and alternative energy are being implemented.

What is Going Green and How can You Help Save the Planet

Replenishing the Damaged Environment

Just knowing about what is going green won’t do any good.

You have to practice and implement ways to lessen the burden on the environment.

If you live in one of the hotter areas of the country you can learn more about heat tolerant plants in Gilmour’s article.

You can go green starting with your house.

Tell your kids and spouse to switch off the lights when they are not in use.

Try and avoid switching lights on during the daytime to conserve energy.

Walk to work or school if it isn’t far away.

Otherwise, take the bus instead of driving there.

When you go to get groceries, ride a bike.

Taking a car means burning fuel which means more emissions on your part.

Following these simple steps can help reduce your carbon footprint.

Secondly, you can actively participate by planting trees and other forms of flora and fauna in your backyard or your lawn.

Reforestation is important if you want to help combat the harmful effects and damages caused by logging.

Try to do some reforestation in both urban and rural areas.

Did you know that the major causes of floods and landslide is heavy logging and deforestation?

Widespread flooding and huge landslides which wipes off entire cities and towns off the map, killing and displacing thousands of people in the process, is the result of logging and heavy deforestation.

Trees also act as nature’s shield against landslides and flooding due to heavy rain.

Taking down the shield will no doubt result in destruction.

And because of this, some species have already gone extinct and many are on the verge of extinction.

In what is going green, the trash you throw on beaches and in the water affects marine life.

Each year thousands of birds who come to get fish from the waters are killed due to major oil spills and other contaminants in the ocean.

The fish that they eat also suffer because of the rampant pollution.

To combat this, conservationists have developed a routine to clean up beaches all around the world on a daily basis.

Oil spills, on the other hand, cannot be controlled.

It is surprising to discover what is going green and the different ways in which you can give back to the planet.

All you need to do is play your part in any way you can, big or small it doesn’t matter.

But it is your duty to do your bit to preserve the environment and prevent further damage.

Many people are aware of what is going green and they know that some things are good for the planet and yet they do not do anything about it and instead turn a blind eye to it.

Going green is healthy and it can be a really noble cause.

Knowing more about what is going green can save you money and lead you to a better and healthier life.

A cleaner environment today will lead to a cleaner future tomorrow.

Going green is all about restoring nature and conserving resources.

It is imperative that you save resources so that the future generations can use them to go about their lives.

At the rate the world is going, it is not impossible to state there will be a scarcity of natural resources in the years to come.

Conserve Water

When in need of a shower, try not to waste a lot of water by taking long showers.

When washing your face with soap or brushing your teeth or even shaving, it is a good idea to turn off the water.

Get all the leaky faucets fixed so that there is no dripping water, which only ends up being wasted.

You see, going green is all about replacing your old habits and adopting new ones that not only result in your satisfaction but also help save the environment.

Each time you decide to do something about saving natural resources, you take a step towards helping make the world a better place.

Recycle

Recycling is an important and fundamental way to promote environmental protection.

Recycling involves the process of turning waste into reusable products.

For example, empty glass bottles or plastic plates or rubber can be recycled.

Glass can be recycled into a new glass bottles, ready for reuse, and so on.

The process of recycling ensures the conservation of scarce resources and also reduces harmful emissions.

Reuse

You can reuse some of the things that you intend to throw away.

For example, you can reuse old clothing as cleaning rags.

You can turn containers into pots and plant some flowers.

You can even donate old clothes to a church or charity so that they can be used to clothe the needy.

Change Your Lighting

You can switch to using fluorescent bulbs which use less power and are long-lasting.

Bring Your Own Grocery Bags

When going out for grocery shopping, you can Sachi Insulated Market Totes, Set of 6 with you so that you don’t have to take plastic bags.

If everybody starts bringing their own bags, there won’t even be a need to manufacture more bags.

Homesteading

Try to grow your own food through homesteading.

Considerable greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided this way as there will be lower demand of processed foods.

Ride a Bus or Carpool

You can also reduce your carbon footprint by carpooling or riding a bus or a bicycle.

Pick your co-workers if they live nearby so that fewer cars are used.

Vehicles are a major source of pollution.

Travel Green On Your Next Vacation

Knowing what is going green can be a wonderful thing, it is important that you also spread some awareness amongst your community so that they can go green too.

Easy Ways to Go Green at Home and Save Money Too

Sometimes it’s the small things that make the most difference.

They are often the easiest to implement and to stick with long term.

Here are some very easy ways to go green at home and even save some money in the process.

Guide to Going Green for Busy Mothers

Use smaller plates, pots and bowls

The smaller the pan, plate, glass or whatever, the less water you will use when it’s time to wash it.

You will also need to use less plastic wrap if you are covering food to save for later.

It will take up less room in the dishwasher.

And whenever possible, opt to buy, use, wash and keep your drinking glasses.

Even when you buy recyclable cups, it is still a drain on the environment.

Bundle your Amazon purchases

I know, we strive to shop local but Amazon has practically everything we could ever want, and it’s so darn convenient.

If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free for so many products which makes it tempting to order items as we think of them.

Strive to break the habit of ordering one or two things at a time.

Yes, you have Amazon Prime so it’s easy to click, click, click and in less than 30 seconds you can order whatever you want with free shipping.

But it’s better for the environment to put them in your virtual shopping cart until you have a few items.

So many times smaller items can be boxed together. It also saves on the shipping and handling in order to transport the items to your home.

Think of the planes, trains, and trucks it takes to get your item to your doorstep.

While it may be “free” with Amazon Prime, it’s still taking a toll on our earth and taxing our resources.

Delay shipping for your Amazon purchases

Another Amazon earth-friendlier practice is to not automatically opt for the free 2-day delivery.

You can opt to wait 4 – 5 days or a week or more to not rush your items.

At times, Amazon offers a digital credit to your account as an incentive.

A few weeks ago I added something else to my Amazon cart and decided to pay/checkout.

By delaying my shipment to the next week, I earned several dollars in credit toward an Amazon Pantry purchase.

Use the quick cycle on your washing machine

I’ve had my washer and dryer for five years.

While I despise doing laundry, they are beautiful front loading machines, highly rated from Consumer Reports.

How did I not notice the Quick Cycle until recently, I do not know.

Now, in addition to getting laundry done faster, the washing machine is only running for 36 minutes instead of 62 minutes.

It’s using less water too.

I also try to use it later in the evening during high-energy use times during the hot and cold months.

Consider your dishwasher

I appreciate my husband cleaning up the kitchen but sometimes see he will take up valuable dishwasher space with a big bowl that maybe just had fruit in it and could easily be rinsed.

Dishwashers use lots of water and energy too.

Use it, but use it smart.

Run it in the evenings instead of peak periods, especially during seasons of high-energy usage, like 100 degree or 15 degree days.

This goes for your washer and dryer too.

Use what you have

So many times I’ll be in Target and just start filling up my cart with things I don’t really need.

Do I need to buy another nail polish, or could I use what I already have at home?

When I’m at Costco, this happens a lot too.

I don’t want to make another trip, so I fill my cart without giving it much thought.

This happens with lots of purchases we make.

Before you put something in your cart, consider: Do you really need it at this time?

Have you ever tried to eat everything in your freezer before buying more things to freeze?

Have you eaten all the boxed, bagged and canned foods in your pantry or cabinets?

It’s a goal and can be an accomplishment to even eat through a shelf of food.

Use a shower timer

My son brought home a shower timer from school after a presentation on water conservation.

What a great idea!

My kids love it and are sticking to it most days.

Even if we can’t keep to the strict 5-minute shower limit, it is great to be mindful of how long we are running the water.

Use reusable straws

We love eco-friendly bamboo straws and stainless steel straws.

These one-time purchases keep waste out of the landfills.

Freeze produce

Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I rarely think to do this.

I’ll go to Costco when I’m low on produce and buy their organic spinach and kale mix, a large container of strawberries, a bag with 8 colorful peppers, and 5 – 10 pounds of carrots.

So many times, for whatever reason, I just know we won’t be able to finish what I bought.

I’ve made it my new year’s resolution to never waste produce again.

I’m taking half of what I come home with and wash it, chop it (if necessary) and put it in freezer bags.

Yes, freezer bags are plastic and considered wasteful but I save them for future use.

If the bag is empty before I have more vegetables to refill it with, I keep the empty freezer bag in the freezer for the next time.

Since buying a NutriBullet, our family has been consuming a lot more produce, and we are needing to freeze less and less.

Reuse gift bags and tissue paper for immediate family

I’m a big believer in wrapping paper from the dollar stores.

The problem with it is that because it’s so cheap, I tend to be wasteful with it.

I still buy and use it but in an effort to save paper, I have started a small stash of gift bags and tissue paper, especially for gifts in my immediate family.

We use the same 4-5 gift bags and the same tissue paper gift after gift, and it lasts a good year at least.

Sometimes when I have a little surprise for one of my kids, I’ll even “wrap” it in a cloth napkin or tea towel.

Save the coffee

You can freeze& your leftover coffee from your coffee pot for iced coffee.

My husband sticks to the tried and true coffee pot and hasn’t been interested in the Keurig and other fast-brewing coffee makers.

He likes saving money by using the big container of Folgers and thinks it tastes better.

He usually drinks the entire pot.

But for the times he doesn’t, I’ve been encouraging him to pour it into our ice cube trays, and I use the cubes when I have iced coffee.

Or put it in your compost.

Don’t have a compost?

Sprinkle the grounds outside in your garden.

Spend on others

Do you exchange gifts with someone just because you always have, even if you both don’t need anything?

Is it a challenge to keep coming up with something?

This past year, instead of my family of four buying gifts for my out-of-town brother’s family of four, we spent that money on those less fortunate in our area.

You can seek out a family through a school or a church or donate to a cause.

We went to our church and picked four names off the tree in November.

It was a great lesson for our kids.

It was wonderful how they were carefully considering what to buy as what we were giving them were most likely the recipients’ only gifts.

We Face-timed with my brother’s family and showed each other what their “gifts” were.

It was great.

Next year we are going to have the kids use some of their money too.

We have too much and don’t need to buy more things just to buy them while so many people could use help.

Share magazine subscriptions

This sounds basic but when I realized how many duplicate magazines we had coming into the house, I was shocked.

My two boys EACH get the free Lego Club Magazine, the ever-fun Highlights Magazine, and a Boys’ Life magazine from Cub Scouts.

They get the Exact Same Magazine!

I seriously couldn’t believe it.

The Lego one was free so I never really thought much about the exact same two Lego Club magazines coming into our house every other month.

But after my boys joined Cub Scouts they both started to receive the same magazine also.

A few months later it was the gift-giving holiday season, and a thoughtful somewhat distant relative asked for our address so she could send my kids a subscription to Highlights Magazine.

When I realize she paid for two subscriptions, I felt terrible.

It seemed to be a waste of money and also paper, not to mention the impact, albeit minimal for just one magazine, of getting that magazine to our home.

So we had six magazines coming in our the home — duplicates of the same three magazines — and now we have three without missing them at all.

I’m not a big magazine reader, mostly because I prefer books.

However, when I do want one, assuming it’s not an impulse buy at the checkout counter, I get them from the library.

Sure they are a few months old, but the types I’m interested in mostly aren’t timely like a Time Magazine.

They are more like Real Simple, Oprah’s magazine, etc., so reading them a few months later doesn’t matter.

You could even have a magazine exchange at your next book club meeting; bring your kids’ magazines too.

Make a rain garden

It’s simple to start a rain garden.

Learn how and harvest your rain for when you need it.

Buy at thrift stores and secondhand

Your attitude on thrift stores and Goodwill shopping probably depends on what kind of experience you have about the thrift stores near where you live: If they are good, you probably like them.

If they aren’t – if they are too expensive or not organized or smell or just a bunch of junk – you won’t like them.

Working full time, I never had time to go to garage sales.

Once I stayed at home and had kids, I sought them out and bought lots of toys and clothes at them.

When we moved out of state, I mourned the good deals I found at garage sales but found my new town offered good consignment shops.

They weren’t too high-end but they only took decent things.

I bought lots of my clothes there and also shopped at the children’s consignment shops in town.

It was a great place to bring our outgrown items as well.

Secondhand shopping is earth friendly

When we left that state and moved again, I mourned the loss and convenience of consignment shops.

It was like an always-open garage sale.

But I found something even better!

There was a Facebook group that was for our town that people used to sell things.

You would leave whatever you were selling in a bin outside your door or garage, and the person would pick the item up and leave the money.

It was all done through Facebook, and you didn’t have to meet face-to-face.

It was convenient shopping from your computer or mobile device.

I could search “boy’s winter coat” or “soccer ball” or anything.

Everything was cheaper, was convenient, and was able to be reused… so earth-friendly!

Another great thing in that town was the Goodwill stores.

My children’s entire wardrobe of dri-fit shirts and sweatshirts, including Nike and Under Armour, are all from consignment shops, that Facebook group, and Goodwill.

My husband finds camping and sports equipment, tools, electronics… pretty much anything at Goodwill.

And the best part?

It’s a lot easier to part with stuff you no longer use when you paid just a fourth or less of the retail price.

We can just donate it back and eliminate clutter in our home.

It is a hit or miss and when time is of the essence, you usually have to buy it new, but we LOVE buying secondhand and not creating more demand.

Don’t buy sugared drinks

One of the best habits you can do is to drink water.

Help your family become healthier and eliminate juice boxes, soda and sports drinks.

Using fruit infused water bottles is a healthy habit and easy to implement.

Carry a reusable insulated water bottle.

Unique and easy ways to go green at home

There are so many positive things that come from going green.

These easy ways to go green at home sound simple and they are.

They also don’t seem like they will add up to much difference, but if you do them all the time, for a year and longer, imagine the significance they will have, on our earth and on your wallet.

Guide to Going Green for Busy Mothers

It’s 6:30am.

Your children have to be off to school by seven.

Your youngest daughter is refusing to brush her hair, the baby needs a diaper change and everything seems to be falling apart.

You are likely packing whatever you can find into their lunch bags at this point and calling it done.

There’s probably not a thought in your mind about going green, or supporting the environment.

Even if you want to live in a more green manner, it may seem patently impossible on your time constraints.

However, as I have learned through raising my three children, green living doesn’t have to be a time-consuming endeavor.

Today, I will give you some tips that will allow you to live a green lifestyle while still having time to do what you need to do as a mother.

Don’t focus on the entire world

The first thing you need to do to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed while figuring out your green lifestyle is to narrow your focus a bit.

Even though we wish the whole world would live in a more environmentally friendly manner, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

For this reason, it’s necessary to narrow your focus down a little and think of your own children first.
Providing organic
Start by giving them the best possible environment to grow in.

You can control what goes in their mouths, at least when they are home.

You can control what goes on their skin, and the air they breathe, to a degree.

There are easy ways to go green at home and save money too.

You are what you eat

Your children eat what you put before them.

This means that if you put junk in front of them, they won’t be as healthy as they can be.

Providing organic, natural meals may seem very overwhelming. It may be tempting to snatch something convenient — prepackaged and processed — from the supermarket and feed it to your kids.

Start at the supermarket

When buying food, it is important to try to buy as many organic options as you possibly can.

Think about what your kids consume most often, and start there.

It is difficult to afford a 100% organic lifestyle, so try to get the most value for your dollar.

Taking a quick glance at the label will help.

Try to avoid frozen or prepackaged meals as much as possible.

Opt for whole-grain breads, organic meats from ethical farms, and fresh vegetables and fruit as much as you possibly can.

Another great thing you can do is bring some reusable bags with you.

Even bringing one or two bags will save on plastic and add up throughout the year.

Preparing the meals

Cooking can be time-consuming.

For that reason, set aside a bit of time once or twice a week so it doesn’t feel like you are always making meals.

Cook a few versatile, large meals.

These should be foods that will last for a week and that are versatile enough to make good leftovers.

For example, the hamburger meat left over from the organic patties you have on Monday can be used the next day to make spaghetti, and after that you could put it on an organic, homemade pizza.

When you have leftovers, bag them up and freeze them.

That way, you can always have a healthy, organic meal whenever your family needs one.

Furthermore, it only took a little time to make enough food to last a week.

Preparing school lunches

Buy reusable lunch containers and skip using those small plastic bags each day.

You will save dozens of plastic bags each month, which will help our environment.

Making homemade baby food

If you have a baby, you can even make your own homemade baby food.

Figure out which foods puree best in a blender and which need a food processor and then grind up what your family is eating.

Spoon the puree into BPA-free ice cube trays and freeze it.

One cube is one ounce of food.

When it’s time to feed your baby, you only have to warm up the puree.

In this way, your child can have a healthy, nutritious meal… even better and often more affordable than from a jar.

Make your own juice

A juicer is something is a very practical item to have.

It allows you to make healthy juices for your children from any fruits and vegetables you have.

It also allows you to control the amount of sugar, if any, that your children are consuming.

If a juicer seems overwhelming with all the parts to it, you may opt for a NutriBullet.

This wouldn’t be for juicing necessarily; however, it’s great for smoothies and for getting your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

It’s small and simple to use and clean.
Eco friendly natural cleaners Vinegar baking soda salt lemon

Use safe cleaners

Though cleaners don’t go directly into your child’s mouth, they can indirectly go there.

That is why having an organic cleaner is important.

When selecting a safe cleaner, look for one which lists all its ingredients on the label.

Make sure they ingredients are nontoxic.

If you’d rather make your own, that is also an option.

Vinegar, lemon juice and Borax are all good choices.

They will easily kill bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew, and you don’t have to worry if someone gets into it.

Make sure to mix up a batch when you start to get low and keep it in spray bottles.

That way, you can easily and quickly clean up any mess, saving yourself some precious time.

You won’t have to worry about breathing in toxic chemicals.

This is especially important as your kids get older, and you give them more responsibility.

You don’t want them ingesting toxic fumes and coming into contact with unnatural chemicals while they are completing chores.

What goes on their skin

Another area you as a parent can control is what goes on your children’s skin.

For example, you can find organic soaps at most natural health stores and many specialty stores.

Look for soaps, lotions and other skin care products made from as many organic ingredients as possible.

Avoid those with perfumes or additives as much as possible.

Your child’s skin is delicate, and perfumes, dyes and other additives can irritate it.

As a rule, try to avoid products with sulfates.

Diapering

You know babies go through a lot of diapers.

However, the mass-produced disposable diapers aren’t the only option.

There are actually environmentally-friendly diapering options.

The first option is eco-friendly diapering.

These are actually the best for busy moms.

They work just like the normal disposable diaper.

However, they are made from recycled materials, without the use of dyes or perfumes.

Cloth diapers are also an option.

Today’s cloth diapers are washable.

Simply rinse them out and put them in the wash.

This does involve more effort.

The air they breathe

It may seem like there are no ways to control the air your children breathe.

However, there are actually several fast, easy, inexpensive things you can do.
Gardeners hands planting flowers

Plant flowers

Flowers like gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums can actually clean the air by removing harmful chemicals.

For example, these houseplants can reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the air by 90%.

As an extra bonus, plants release oxygen by a process called photosynthesis.

With little care, they will continue to purify the air for your family.

Living a Green Lifestyle

Even though living a green lifestyle while being a busy mom may seem like an impossible task, it doesn’t have to be.

There are many things you can do to incorporate good environmental practices into even the most hectic day.

You can feel good about taking care of your family and for modeling a healthy, environmentally-conscious lifestyle that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

New Year’s Resolutions for Green Moms

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions for 2013, why not make them green?

Below, we offer ten easy green tips to get you started.

Don’t worry: we’re not suggesting you try to tackle all of them (although if you do, let us know and we’ll send you a shiny gold star!).

Take an ‘Eat Local Challenge’

For one month, attempt to eat all local foods, including all groceries and prepared food.

Or do as my sister did in Northampton, MA: try it for a year, eating 70 percent local.

Make your home as efficient as possible

Even if you can’t afford to complete remodel your home to include geothermal heating or solar panels, you can have a home performance for energy efficiency conducted by a heating and air professional, saving you money as well as help the earth.

Make 2013 the year you buy used

Can you do it? Buy only used and recycled items for a year?

If you take on this huge challenge, remember there are a few items families should never buy used, such as bicycle helmets, car seats, cribs, and computers, unless refurbished.

Make your local farmers’ market a routine weekly stop

If you divide your regular grocery shopping between a number of stores, add the farmers’ market to the list, and consistently shop there.

It takes time to get to know what foods are regularly offered and to get to know local farmers and artisans.

Leave your car parked at least one day per week

Pick a day of the week that works for your schedule, and vow to not drive.

Maybe a weekend day is best, during which you’ll ride a bike, walk, or just stay home.

Maybe a weekday works, on a day your kids don’t have obligations or are picked up by others in a car pool, or you carpool to work.

Recycle more than you throw away

In the past year, my recycling bin has consistently been fuller than my trash bin, and I couldn’t be happier.

Check your local garbage service details to make sure you’re taking advantage of all you can recycle.

I didn’t realize so many items were eligible for recycling until I asked for a full list.

Start composting

This is on my personal New Year’s list!

Composting is inexpensive and easy once you get the hang of it, and even if you don’t have space or time for a garden, many local nurseries and farms will buy your compost to take it off your hands.

Many cities, such as Seattle, now have composting service.

Hang clothes to dry

I’ll admit it: this is one that seems like way too much work.

However, with three school-aged boys, we go through a lot of laundry each week, and it seems like the dryer is always turning.

We’ll switch to a low-energy dryer such as those sold at Laundry Alternative or hang clothes on a line in the spring and summer.

Volunteer with a local outdoor effort

You don’t have to wait until Earth Day to plant a tree or build a trail. Parks and Rec departments and local forest services also run programs in many areas.

Ban processed foods from your house

Once you’re trying to avoid them, you’ll be shocked to see how many of the foods we buy are heavily processed.

Not only are processed foods terrible for us, but they almost always involve extensive packaging that is harmful to the environment.

Replace snack food purchases such as granola bars, fruit leathers, chips, and store-bought frozen waffles with their homemade counterparts for healthier options.

What are your eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions?

We’d love for you to add to this list in the comments!

What Makes a Home Eco Friendly

So you wanna reduce your global footprint and learn more about eco friendly home?

Excellent!

Not only is your decision great for the environment, it can reduce your monthly expenses and be great for your wallet.

Taking the steps to live more eco friendly is easy if you know where to start.

Let’s begin with some background on this catchy “eco” term.

What the Heck is Eco?

Is eco short for environment or economics?

Nope. In fact, eco is short for ecology which is the science of studying the earth and environment.

Since ecologists have been pushing for a “greener” environment, the term eco caught on and now is used for the whole green movement.

Not to mention the Green Party was once named the Ecology Party.

What Makes a Home Eco Friendly Photo credit: PhoTones_TAKUMA

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on.

What Makes an Eco Home?

I’ve got two words for you: energy and waste.

Reduce these and you’ve got yourself an eco home.

It’s that simple… well, sort of…While the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has developed the Green Building Rating System™, in general eco homeowners use the following:

  • Solar energy
  • Recycled materials (like Environmentally Friendly Green Furniture)
  • Natural light and/or high-efficiency lighting
  • Rooftop gardens (helps with insulation and water runoff)
  • Rain water tanks
  • Non-deforested woods or other materials all together
  • The sun for natural heating
  • Double paned windows and glass doors
  • Fully insulating roofs and walls
  • Dimmer switches for lights
  • Ceiling fans
  • Water heaters wrapped in insulated blankets or tankless water heaters
  • Vegetable gardens
  • Compost
  • Recycling programs
  • And anything that doesn’t create waste or use more energy

Eco FriendlyPhoto credit: lmpicard

Best Places for Green Consumer to Buy Vacation Homes

Can I Convert My Home to an Eco Friendly Home?

Absolutely!

And applaud yourself for taking the next step to a more sustainable future. 

Most people think that eco friendly homes are built from scratch.

However, that breaks the whole concept of eco-friendly, reducing waste and energy.

You can recycle your home into an eco home.

Start Small

Making the eco change doesn’t have to be a major construction project.

You can start making these small changes today.

  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Air dry sheets on outdoor clothes lines
  • Air dry dishes
  • Change your light bulbs to high-efficiency lighting (CFLs and LEDs are the most popular, but ask a local hardware rep what’s best for you)
  • Buy an insulated blanket for your water heater
  • Visit a weekend garage sale instead of going to Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Start a vegetable garden
  • Start using a compost system (you can buy compost systems out-of-the-box or use recycled wood materials to build your own)
  • Recycle (if your neighborhood doesn’t have a program, contact your local waste management company to get more information)

Think Big When going Eco Friendly

Once you’ve made all the small adjustments around your home, you can start to plan some of the bigger projects.

  • Have solar energy panels installed (you get a huge tax break and will save bundles on your monthly electric bill)
  • Build a rooftop garden (if you have a flat roof, start a rooftop garden to insulate your home, reduce rain runoff, and provide fruits and vegetables)
  • Install rain water tanks to use for the garden or in-home
  • Install roof windows for added natural light
  • Replace old window and glass doors with double paned options to help with insulation
  • Fully insulate roofs and walls
  • Install light dimmer switches and ceiling fans

Going eco doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project.

It’s really your day-to-day choices that make the biggest impact.

Remember being eco is simply a matter of reducing your energy and waste.

With every decision you make, consider if you’ll be consuming or reducing.

Have you made any eco friendly home improvements?

If so, share a comment below.
Photo credit: Alice Henneman and Emily Laurel.

Best Green Laundry Detergents ~ Here’s What to Know

dropps green laundry detergent

Updated:

Laundry detergent is easy to overlook when you’re taking steps to be greener; it’s in its own category.

It’s not quite a personal care product like toothpaste and deodorant, but it’s also not a cleaning product like a floor or toilet bowl cleaner.

We are always looking to eliminate toxins and pollutants from our homes.

What is something to consider when looking for the best green laundry detergents?

Know that laundry detergents and soaps can contain ingredients that are harmful to your health.

It is important to consider that you’re exposed to them every day through the clothes you wear.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know exactly what’s in organic laundry detergent because, as with cleaning products, companies aren’t required to tell consumers what’s in them.

When there are products that you use often, it is worth considering paying a bit more to be sure they are as safe as they can be.

Learn more here by reading Green Laundry Tips to Save Energy and Money and Top Green Cleaning Products

Tips for finding organic laundry detergent

  1. Avoid detergents with chemical fragrances and perfumes (avoid dryer sheets, too).
  2. Seek out a detergent brand that lists its chemicals, or stick with a green brand you trust.
  3. Skip detergents that might contain phosphates (harmful to waterways after use), parabens (hormone disruptors), and nonylphenol ethoxylate (endocrine disruptor).
  4. Make sure the bottle or box you buy is recyclable and, preferably, recycled.
  5. Check the amount you need to use per wash. Using less is always better.

Review of best green laundry detergents

We always prefer unscented detergents, whenever possible.

Unfortunately, most companies include scents which mean more chemicals.

Rain Laundry Detergent & Organic Fabric Softener:

For those with skin disorders or with children, this may be your best bet.

Rain’s Laundry Detergent is actually 100% detergent free.

Your children’s glands won’t absorb the enzymes from their towels after showering — when pores are open — and from their clothing — when sweating — found in traditional detergents.

Everything in this product is sourced from USA too!

best green laundry detergents

Dropps:

Dropps sent us samples of the scent / dye free and the fresh scent detergents.

Dropps are phosphate free, NPE-free, and chlorine free.

It is made of “biodegradable plant-based surfactants (anionic and nonionic)” according to the ingredient list.

Because they come in “toss-and-go” packs there is no jug to recycle; though the plastic packaging does need to be thrown in the garbage.

Lastly, they were recognized for safer chemistry by the EPA.

Overall, we found Dropps worked quite well for cleaning our laundry.

We definitely preferred the scent-free over their “fresh scent” line as it was a little overpowering.

But know we are biased in that we don’t like scents!

BUY DROPPS HERE

Trader Joe’s Laundry Detergent:

We have used the Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry Detergent for several years.

It has a lavender scent that has just enough fragrance without being overpowering.

The detergent works well for day-to-day use, but for tougher stains non-green detergents do a better job.

Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Premium Laundry Detergent:

Costco’s laundry detergent is phosphate-free, dye-free, and perfume-free.

What’s more, the container is made from 25% or more recycled materials.

Vaska Laundry Detergent:

This brand of detergent contains plant-based surfactants and conditioners, lavender extract and filtered water.

It does not contain: “NPE’s carcinogenic ingredients, chlorine, phosphates, petroleum products, alcohol, optical brighteners, synthetic scents, animal ingredients, EPA priority pollutants, or materials listed by ACGIH as hazardous.”

Makes you wonder what’s in your detergent – doesn’t it?

How to make your own laundry soap

There is always the option of making your own laundry detergent.

It is like baking a cake or bread from scratch: You will know exactly what is in it.

With some simple washing soda, Borax (which is made from naturally-occurring ingredients) and an unscented and natural bar of soap, you can be on your way to a more environmentally-friendly and green laundry detergent.

Living more green

For more information on environmentally friendly and eco living:

Green Spring Cleaning Checklist: 8 Tips for Your Home
What Makes a Home Eco

The best green laundry detergents don’t necessarily cost more and you will have less irritants and toxins in your home and on your skin.

It’s a good idea to research on the Good Guide to learn more about the laundry detergent in your home.

Green Laundry Tips to Save Energy and Money

Since the new year, I’ve been doing my best to live green according to my top resolutions for green moms.

I’ve cut several energy-wasting activities from my daily routine, but laundry remains my nemesis.

With a family of five (including three growing boys who all play sports daily!), large quantities of laundry will be a reality for me for the foreseeable future.

Laundry is probably a reality in yours as well.

While household laundry can’t be avoided, there are ways to reduce energy, water-consumption, and reduce your environmental impact with the following five green laundry tips.

Best Green and Organic Laundry Detergent and Top Green Cleaning Products

Green Laundry Tips: Use Green Detergent.

Yes, it’s more expensive, but eco-friendly laundry detergent helps more than just the environment.

The chemical-free stuff is gentler on kids’ skin, too.

The best, including my top three below, are free of dyes and scents (who needs it?) and utilize smaller packaging than most.

When selecting eco-friendly laundry detergent, search for the best ones by looking at what they don’t contain instead of what they do contain.

Laundry detergent manufacturers are not required by law to disclose their ingredients, so you’re likely to see vague ingredient lists instead of a run-down of harmful chemicals.

Look on the label for companies disclosing good things instead: what eco-claims they make.

Curious how your laundry detergent ranks?

Invest in spin dryer.

During research for this article, I tested out an eco-friendly spin dryer from Laundry Alternative.

Approximately half the size of a traditional dryer, the spin dryer works in only 2-3 minutes, using far less energy for an average load.

It’s compact and gentler on clothes than your regular dryer, and has a pretty decent capacity given its size (13.8 pounds of wet laundry).

Here’s how the spin dryer works (and helps the environment):

You fill it with wet clothes, either straight from your washer or after a short cycle in your regular dryer.

You plug it in (uses a conventional 110V outlet).

You close the lid and watch the water drain out of the bottom.

You’ll want to place a small bowl or other item to catch the water on the floor.

In 2-3 minutes, you retrieve your clothes, which will be mostly dry.

They’ll still need to dry a bit more hanging in the closet or dry them in the regular dryer for a short time.

During a normal laundry cycle in my house, it takes me approximately 9 minutes to dry the clothes from my washer using the spin dryer (about three spin dryer loads from one washer load).

Then they all get tossed into the regular dryer for a shorter 20 minute cycle.

At that point, they’re completely dry.

The upside: I’m taking it easier on my clothes, and I’m saving energy.

The downside: I now have an extra step to take during my laundry chore.

Note: Laundry Alternative also has a travel-sized spin dryer, which works much like swim suit dryers do in upscale locker rooms.

It’s perfect for taking on the road in an RV or while camping, though would be too cumbersome to bring during air travel or short trips.

Skip the dryer altogether.

If you have outdoor space and sunshine, you can use a spin dryer solo (without the traditional) or skip the dryer altogether.

Yes, you can hang your clothes outside like your grandma did, on a line.

I’ve seen this done more and more often in my Oregon neighborhood, and will consider it when the rain stops.

You can buy a clothesline for under $50.

Do less laundry!

Is it really dirty?

I ask my kids this all the time, after they’ve tossed a shirt into the laundry bin after wearing it for 15 minutes.

Now, most of the time, my boys’ clothes are as muddy and sweaty as you’d expect, but I’ve been teaching them to conserve on the laundry front when possible.

This means that items that don’t get very dirty, like pajamas, get two wears (or more) before going into the drum, and jackets and gloves are set out to dry instead of being tossed in the dryer.

Use energy-efficient appliances.

You don’t have to use an eco-friendly dryer alternative to conserve energy.

Everyone knows to look for the Energy Star logo, but when shopping for a new washer or dryer, it also helps to know the following:

Top loading washers are less energy-efficient and use more water.

Stainless steel tubs can withstand faster spinning, which means shorter washing and drying times.

It’s better to buy a moderately-priced front loader than the highest end top-loader.

For more information on Environmentally Friendly and Eco living:

Environmentally Friendly Green Furniture
Green Spring Cleaning Checklist: 8 Tips for Your Home
What Makes a Home Eco

What do you do to keep your laundry practices eco-friendly?

Share your green laundry tips!

Photo credit: slgc and seanfreese.