Everyone needs to take time off to relax. Travel is a major element of getting away from it all. And while an eco-volunteering vacation can be an interesting change of pace, sometimes you just need to pamper yourself. But can you travel with a light ecological footprint, while nestling in the lap of luxury?
1. Zeppelin Cruise
OK, this is a bit of a cheat, because the "Manned Cloud" pictured is merely a figment of an optomistic imagination. But zeppelin air travel is reality today over Los Angeles, in Japan, and on Lake Constance at the Swiss-German border, as the company that went down with the Hindenburg returns to the game with safe, non-flammable lighter-than-air travel concepts. It is only a matter of time until a five-star floating tour is available; imagine travel that never leaves a footprint on sensitive ecological territories while curious travelers can silently glide above.
2. Sailing Cruise Ship
With five masts and four stars, the Royal Clipper sailing cruise ship offers a vacation experience unlike any other. You will barely want to leave your marble tub or full size bed to spend time in one of the three pools on deck, climbing the mast, or gazing at the underwater wonders through the bubble windows in the Captain Nemo lounge. You will enjoy all the benefits of a traditional cruise under sail instead of motor.
3. First Class Train
Image: Kevin Dooley, Flickr
For 2-3 times the price of a standard fare, but still a fraction of the cost of flying first class, you can travel in the best class on the train. While Amtrak sticks with "first class," Eurostar calls it Business Premier -- a fine bit of green luxury. On Eurostar, your trip emits only 10% as much CO2 as flying, and even that CO2 is offset for a carbon neutral journey, at no extra cost, as part of Eurostar's "Tread Lightly" commitment.
Take a load off your tootsies and treat yourself to a tour by Velotaxi. These pedal-powered, often solar-assisted, city-friendly vehicles are popping up in the all the destination cities. What could be more luxurious than having a native tour guide happy to have an active job pointing out the highlights on a slow tour of the city?