Friday, May 29, 2009

Fresh Ideas For Summer Green Vacations

Most green travel tips focus on the destination, like my organic lifestyle vacation rentals. But how you get there and what you do on vacation may have a big impact. Get fresh answers fast in the The Union of Concerned Scientists, peer-reviewed report. Their analysis works with three key factors:

1. The type of vehicle you are taking to reach your travel destination;
2. The distance you are traveling; and
3. The number of people traveling with you.

My tips, "Forget Being Fanatic" has simple ways to protect your home while you're away and cut vacation costs to the planet and your pocket. It's available as a PDF at

Monday, May 25, 2009

Affordable Travel - 5 Ways To Save On Your Next Vacation

Who isn't trying to save money these days?. But it's time for summer vacation! Time to immerse yourself in the local life of a new place or just take a break at the beach. It may be just what you need to reduce stress.

Fortunately, if you want to save money, this summer is a much better time to travel than last summer. Gas prices are lower, the dollar is stronger in some countries, airfares are down, and there is no time like the present.

These five tips will help you wring more value out of your summer holiday.

1. Take advantage of the strong dollar in Western Europe. Prices have fallen in the UK, Turkey and Iceland.

2. Stay in a private home. More space, save on meals, sleep on the sofa, or rent a joint big enough for a family reunion--each way can bring big savings. Self-catering rentals, holiday homes, vacation rentals, or just a room or sofa in someone else's home is less expensive than B&Bs and hotels. My neighbors just rented their beautiful condo out while they went to visit family for the Memorial Day weekend. All they did was respond to an ad a young couple from Vegas ran on Craigslist. asking for a place to stay for the weekend for less than $300. And they got it! A comparable suite in a hotel would have cost $900 plus tax.

3. Learn about deals before it's too late. Instead of spending all day browsing the Internet, have the deals come to you. Sign up for all the RSS feeds like this one and newsletters from airlines and travel blog magazines. Deals like our free week to people who quit smoking, or JetBlue's $14 San Francisco-New York airfares sell out fast. If you get an email about it, you can get to it first.

4. Don't go to Sedona or St. Augustine during wedding season. May and June fills UP both towns with brides, grooms and their loved ones. Year-after-year the couples come back to celebrate their anniversary. Find out when it's shoulder season in your chosen destination and make sure the weather is still good. The rates on lodging and dining go down when high season ends. Plus there will be fewer people on the hiking trails.

5. Call home for free.
Bring your laptop or iPhone and download Skype. When your friends and family do the same it is free as long as you call Skype to Skype. Skype to land line or cell phone call. Once the software is loaded and you plug in a headset or USB phone and connect to the Internet, you can talk to friends all over the globe no charge. Don't want to bring a laptop or download software? Book a vacation rental home like ours, we include unlimited US long distance calls in the fee.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eco Weddings Gifts That Celebrate Love Not Stuff

When Gary Myer and Dana Gail celebrated their honeymoon at Casita Colibri, a vacation rental in Sedona, Az their wedding was part of one of the hottest trends on the planet, green weddings.

In addition to going easy on mother nature and themselves by renting a healthy vacation home, I was so inspired by what they wrote to their guests about their nonmaterial wedding gifts I thought I'd share it.

Our Alternative Registry mentions gifts we'd most welcome. You'll see some of these gifts don't come in boxes. It would be a gift to us if you:
· Make a donation to Verde Valley Sanctuary or the Nature Conservancy
· Offset the carbon for your trip to Sedona
· Give us a used item from our list—reused from a yard sale or secondhand store
· Something creative of your own choosing that reflects this is a celebration of love, not stuff.

The greatest gift is your presence in our lives and at our wedding.

Feel free to share your eco wedding and anniversary celebration tips. Watch for my article about eco-weddings in the June issue of Four Corners Magazine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sweetness In Sedona--Hummingbirds at Our Vacation Rental

An amazing miracle happened at my Sedona vacation rental Casita Colibri, two Black-Chinned Hummingbirds hatched this week. The nest is smaller than half an eggshell. The babies looked like two, minuscule black peas.

You'll notice how small even the mother is compared to the ficus leaves.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Fun--Dana's Top Five for May

1. Are You Stuck on Teflon? Guests often ask why the gourmet kitchens in the vacation rentals don't have teflon pans (aka PFOA, a likely carcinogen). My answer? "Teflon has sticky health issues." I'm a stickler for cast iron and green pans.

2. Last Minute Vacation Rentals. No healthy homes or eco conscious properties in the current specials, but I did see some screamin' deals for summer savings. Listings change daily, so smoke-free or green vacation homes may get posted.

3. Six Secret Ways to Save On Your Next Vacation. Good ideas but I say, "No way," to Number Five. Never found renting an RV to be inexpensive or eco conscious.

4. Tools to Help You Plan, Book, and Share Your Travel. Check out their famous Packing List.

5. Looking For Someone To Hike With? Check out Fitness Singles.

Award winning "pinhole" photography by Sheila Bocchine

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us. Please share your tips and experience.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Love Is In The Air--St. Augustine Eco Weddings

Romance blooms in the Old City of St. Augustine this time of year--it seems there are weddings everywhere. "Green" is one of the hottest trends in weddings, with many guests renting eco vacation rental homes in the area instead of big box timeshares, hotels, or B&Bs. While St. Augustine B&Bs remain a popular choice with the over-50 crowd, younger members of the wedding often want to enjoy more privacy.

Honeymooner, Ali Munroe says she chose our vacation rental because, "My husband didn't like that we could hear other guests through the walls when we stayed in a B&B. We're also not chatty people at breakfast."

Next Post: Scattering Joy--Green Wedding Tips
Last Post: Snake In The Grass

Photograph by pinhole photographer Sheila Bocchine

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Snake in the Florida Grass

Guest blogger, Fran Palmeri writes about her recent photography session with a rattlesnake.

“The gentle Ben” of the snake world is how D. Bruce Means characterizes the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Means is the co-author of Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species--an essential tome for people who like Florida.

As an ecologist, he’s a worldclass authority on the rattler, the largest venomous snake in North America which sometimes reaches 8 feet in length and weighs 10 pounds and has a lightning swift strike.

I admit to being shaken when I encountered it a few weeks ago. It was the first I’d seen. Declining populations make them a rare find. They fill most people with dread and have been persecuted over centuries. Often to see a snake is to kill it. At “rattlesnake roundups” they are captured, killed and eaten. In parts of New England estern diamondbacks have been extirpated; on other states they’re an endangered species. They’ve become rare even in Florida.

All the naturalists I spoke with agreed the Eastern Diamondback is not an aggressive creature. Western Diamondbacks are often described as more irascible, defensive and stubborn. But don’t go chasing one. Practice field etiquette: never corner an animal, move towards it aggressively, get too close, stare it in the eyes, or make sudden movements.

I was confident I’d be able to take a few pictures without disturbing this rattler. It looked me over and then moved away.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

India--Right Here, Right Now

If 25% of the people in India with the highest IQs exceeded the total US population, which it does--wouldn't you want to click here to watch this and find out what's going on?

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy conscious travel and healthy living--conscious of our spending and our impact on our bodies and the world. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us. Please share your tips and experience.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Healthy Travel Tips

Your best bet for staying healthy on the road or anywhere else for that matter, is to keep your immune system strong. While anitbiotics or Tamiflu may shorten the length of time you're ill by a few days, there is no cure. Flu vaccines reduce the risk of catching the bug, but only protect about 39% of the people who take the shot.

Here's how I keep my immune system strong:

  • Avoid stress. I get outside--hike, bike, or just take a walk! Being in nature is a healing balm, the wonder and beauty relaxes me and reminds me of the order and grace that exists regardless of what the balance is in my IRA account.
  • Increase Vitamin D. Most adults in the US suffer from an acute shortage of vitamin D. 15 minutes of sun a day on my legs and arms will boosts my levels to normal and helps protect your immune system. Yet another reason to get outside on my vacation.
  • Increase exercise. Our sedentary lifestyle contributes to our weak immune system. I spend an hour a day walking and on vacation, I hike for hours.
  • A Breath of Fresh Air. I avoid toxic places and stay out of hospitals and gyms (with the exception of the Sedona Spa which is hyper vigilant about keeping the place sanitized). 92% of indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. I open the windows at least 45 minutes a day, except during heavy pollen seasons, ozone or air quality alerts. I avoid staying in places that have been remodeled within six months--most likely the carpet, paint, drywall, and other materials will be out gassing toxins like formaldehyde and other respiratory irritants and carcinogens.
  • Insist on Truly Smoke-free Lodging. Enforcement can be lax unless the establishment is committed to healthy practices. And a smoke-free room on a smoking floor is still a smoking room. I use to find lodging on the road.