Image: ITB Virtual Marketplace
Continuing our series on green ideas found at the International Tourism Convention (ITB) in Berlin, here is a fantastic tip: instead of giving material gifts, give the gift of experience. The company Smartbox does the work for you, selecting good partners and putting together a set of travel coupons that can cover all expenses except the cost of getting to and from the destination. A wide list of geographic options and a handy search tool make it easy to select a get-away which is not too many carbon pounds distant from a lot of major population centers. The vacation offer which caught our eye at ITB is particularly green.Categories of Smartboxes vary regionally, but typically include health and wellness, sport, and escapes as well as the option to sort by gifts for him, her or them. Smartbox does not yet have a category pandering to the environmentalist angle, but the concept could certainly be implemented as soon as the Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism thingy catches on. In the meantime, you will have to search and use your good common sense for which get-away gifts have lower impacts.
The Smartbox "Wanderlust und Radlspaß" (Wanderlust and Biking Fun), offered in Germany, caught our eye as a particularly environmentally friendly option. The package includes a hotel night and loan of bikes for two people, as well as extras such as meals or unlimited spa use, which vary by destination.
After selecting a Smartbox option, a window to search by location appears. The destination partners in your neighborhood can be reviewed in more detail, including specifics on what is included in the gift certificate(s) for that package. Be sure to check the specifications closely to see which "all expenses" are covered: for example, a package may not include as many meals as the average person might expect to eat in a two day get-away and beverages are often not covered. In other cases, you can advise your friends to leave their wallet at home.
Every region has something environmentally friendly to offer: canoe or kayak excursions, a city tour by tandem bicycle or Segway, training in Aikido, horseback riding. Your imagination is the limit. And you will never fear that your gift is gathering dust in the back of a closet.