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Lodging: Alternatives to the Hotel

Ami Voeltz
Do It Green! Minnesota

Finding a place to stay for the night whether you’re traveling across the country or on a business trip can be hard for an ecologically-minded person. There aren’t too many “green” hotels that will be on your route of travel.

“Home” Stay

There are, however, other options besides hotels or motels. Why not consider staying at a friend’s, relatives or friend of a friend’s house? This would give you a warm and homey place to stay along with having others around to keep you company, show you around town and maybe even cook you up a warm meal! You could even try contacting people in organizations or clubs you belong to and see if they know anyone in the city you will be traveling to or stopping at.

House Swapping

Alaska, Austria and even Australia can be right on your doorstep with vacation house swaps. An antique Tuscan farmhouse amid vineyards and olive groves. An Alaskan waterfront home where eagles soar and whales breach. A mountain retreat in the Swiss Alps. Free!

Swapping your house or apartment with someone else saves money that can pay for airfares and outings. You can save on meals too by cooking your own. When travelers agree to swap cars as well, you avoid rental costs. And instead of being an anonymous tourist, you’ll find yourself among friends of the people you’ve swapped with.

Seasoned house swappers suggest starting your search early, requesting color photographs of potential residences; being precise about what you are offering and what you expect (use of a car, permission to bring a pet, etc.); and setting guidelines for the upkeep of the property such as lawn-mowing and car maintenance.

Hotel Tips

Staying in hotels can be a very wasteful practice if we check-in and check-out without stopping to think about what could be done to reduce waste during your stay. Fortunately, many hotels have implemented waste reduction practices into their operations.

Here are a few things that travelers can do to help hotels reduce the amount of waste they generate:

  • Let the hotel know that it’s not necessary to change your sheets and towels every day.
  • Reduce water use by taking shorter baths or showers.
  • When you leave your hotel room, turn off the air conditioner, heat, lights, television and close the drapes.
  • Participate in hotel recycling programs by placing recyclables in appropriate bins.
  • Be sure to turn off exercise equipment, sauna, whirlpool or tennis court lights when you’re through.
  • Leave the little bottles of bathroom amenities in the room if unopened.
  • Share any complimentary newspapers with others. Leave it in the lobby for reuse or see that it’s recycled.
  • If available, use the hotel’s electronic check-out program on the TV. You can view your bill, approve it and help reduce paperwork.

Home-exchange agencies:

Intervac U.S.
P.O. Box 590504
San Francisco, CA 94159
800-756-4663.

HomeLink International
c/o HomeLink USA
P.O. Box 650
Key West, FL 33041
800-638-3841.

Invented City
41 Sutter St. Suite 1090
San Francisco, CA 94104
800-788-CITY

On-Line Resources:

Home Exchange International
www.HomeExchange.Com

The Home Exchanger
www.thehomeexchanger.com

Green Lodging List:

Best Western Edgewater West
2211 London Rd.
Duluth, MN 55812
218-728-3601 or 800-777-7925
www.bestwestern.com

A.G. Thomson House
2617 E 3rd St
Duluth, MN 55812
877-807-8077
www.thomsonhouse.com

Green Hotels Assoc.
P. O. Box 420212
Houston, TX 77242-0212
713-789-8889
www.greenhotels.com (Request a travelers kit)

 

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