eco lodge

In the old days of globetrotting, travelers found accommodations, restaurants, and attractions from guidebooks, word-of-mouth, or searching upon arrival. The internet has expanded the options, creating new networks. It is now possible to find families with an empty guest bedroom in Hungary or read dozens of reviews about a local diner in New Zealand. Such options allow us to support small, family-owned enterprises and have cultural exchanges, while still having a fairly reliable experience if the place has been reviewed numerous times.

Here are 4 collaborative consumption tools you may want to consider when looking to green your travels. 

Image courtesy of Phil Campbell.


By successfully creating a trusted community marketplace for people to connect with accommodations across the globe, Airbnb is now a flourishing model of collaborative consumptions.

If someone has extra bedrooms or perhaps will be out of town and would like to make their place open to guests, this online service reduces the risk to hosts and guest alike. In over 34,000 cities and 190 countries, there are over 1,200,00 options, often bringing a human element to a travel experience.

As for shades of green, Airbnb accommodations are often deep green, although this varies by listing. In many cases guests stay in homes that would otherwise be vacant and are helping support the local economy.


This site is built on the premise that travel is made richer by connections. Couchsurfering creates a cultural exchange that fosters mutual respect by sharing with others. By Couchsurfing, people can stay with locals and experience a place in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. It also provides a wonderful way to give back and be generous, by opening your home to travelers, creating a first-hand cultural experience.


Owned by TripAdvisor, Flipkey helps travelers find and book unique vacations rentals. If you are going on a trip, you may also consider listing your place for rent in your absence. In my experience, the options were slimmer than with Airbnb, and the accommodations are more likely to be businesses than someone’s home.


As the world’s largest travel site with 340 million monthly visitors, this is a hotbed of activity. In my experience, you can get some great information, even on smaller guesthouses and restaurants that are far off the beaten path. Did other guests find the street noise disturbing or is there a covert problem with rodents in a given hotel? Reviews will often give you the inside scoop.

This site also has information on things to do, some of which give back to the local community. For example, I found indigenous-run tour groups and volunteer opportunities on TripAdvisor, which would have been difficult to discover otherwise.

What other green travel sites do you use? Share your experiences and recommendations below. 

Feature image courtesy of Lê Dũng

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.