Q & A with Irene N. Lane, Founder and President, Greenloons, Vienna, VA, USA.
Since 2010, Greenloons has offered certified eco-tour vacations in Europe and elsewhere.
IRENE, WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO GREENLOONS?
I was a Mom who loved to plan family vacations. I had also earned an MBA and spent 12 years as a finance consultant with a few tech companies and also with several US government agencies.
SO WHAT GOT YOU TO LAUNCH THIS VACATION COMPANY?
I became interested in Sustainable Tourism Management, and once I earned a certification in that specialty I began researching certified eco-tour providers that would also be family-friendly. Then I set up my site to offer vacation packages that met all the right criteria. Families are super busy these days and don't always have the time to hunt for vacations suitable for them.
My goal is to emphasize the social responsibility and economic benefits of ecotourism in addition to the environment. Parents buying vacations for themselves and their children want to know that the companies they are booking tours with and paying money to are authentic and responsible businesses. They want some reassurance that they are making good choices. On the tour company owner side, those thinking about 'going green' need more operational guidelines and tools to calculate values.
WHAT DO CUSTOMERS SAY THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT TAKING VACATIONS WITH GREENLOONS?
My customers say they appreciate our honesty and professionalism. They give high praise to the guides and partners we work with in the destinations.
WHAT DEFINES A FAMILY-FRIENDLY ECO-TOUR?
Family tours are specifically geared for families with young children, aged 6 years and older. They focus on educational and fun activities that children, parents, grandparents, and other extended family members can enjoy together. There is also a wide variety of optional activities built into the tours, such as cooking classes, language lessons, bicycling, hiking, or kayaking.
A few years ago, I took a 2-month long trip with my son (a "tween" at the time) through Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Scotland. The purpose of the trip was to test out some new vacation itineraries. My son and I bicycled our way through pristine nature, did some kayaking, tried new foods, navigated our way through all sorts of public transportation, and we just had the best time together.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A FAMILY MEMBER REQUIRES A SPECIAL NEEDS DIET, LIKE GLUTEN-FREE?
Most of the lodges that we partner with can accommodate gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian diets.
ANY GENERAL TIPS REGARDING CLOTHES TO PACK?
Think in terms of layers, depending on the season and where you are going. All-cotton is not great because it wrinkles and can shrink. A cotton blend or some of the newer fibers won't wrinkle and pack more lightly. Also merino wool sweaters or vests are good choices to wick away moisture and keep you warm in cooler climates. You can wear them again and again and there is no smelly odor. Also pack a small travel-size first-aid kit with a few bandages, antiseptic towelette packets, and small gauze squares to prepare for those few little scrapes or boo-boos that can occur anywhere.
I am happy to help with any additional questions, just contact me!
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