My wife and I enjoy guided tours but don’t want to spend our vacation stuck on a bus or a van. Any ideas? —Mike Vadino, Portland, Maine
U.K.-based Country Lanes (44-845/370-0622; countrylanes.co.uk; day trips from $28 per person) heads to the moors and lakes of the Lake District on bicycles. The starting points are all adjacent to train stations, so you won’t need a car to get to them. Plan next summer’s sunset kayaking tour along Nova Scotia with East Coast Outfitters (877/852-2567; eastcoastoutfitters.net; tours from $40 per person). Or try a walking tour: Context (888/467-1986; contexttravel.com; tours from $48 per person) takes small groups through the streets of Paris, Venice, and Rome, all without a tour van.
>I’d like to learn more about organic cooking. Can you suggest some classes?—Daniel Deane, New York, N.Y.
Travel + Leisure features editor (and food expert) Nilou Motamed recommends the Sophisticated Palate Tour (800/888-7850; ciachef.edu; four-day tours from $3,995 per person), with the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, where experts teach you to create Indonesian-style grilled beef with rosemary, capers, and lemons. In New York, natural foods pioneer Dr. Annemarie Colbin teaches classes using organic ingredients at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food & Health (212/645-5170; naturalgourmet school.com; classes from $90 per person). You’ll also become an expert on the jargon, thanks to lectures like Organic-Speak Demystified. The new cooking school at Mexico’s Rancho La Puerta (800/443-7565; rancholapuerta.com; four-class package from $425) sits on a six-acre organic farm. Learn to poach a whole salmon and to make homemade aioli.
How can I plan an environmentally friendly beach trip?—Amy Taylor, Chicago, Ill.
T+L asked Joseph Hankins, director of the West Virginia–based Freshwater Institute, for his tips:
Stay at hotels set farther back from the shoreline, so wetlands, coastal dunes, and sea grass are not disturbed.
Use muscle power, not motor power:take a walk, ride a bike, or sail, rather than using powerboats or Jet Skis.
While there, choose a biodegradable sunscreen like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide–based Lavera or UV Natural. Chemicals such as oxybenzone or avobenzone, found in conventional creams, may harm marine life.
I’ve noticed various recycling symbols while traveling. What are some of the most commonly used signs?—Brent Crowson, Dallas, Tex.
Mobius Loop (Worldwide): This product can be recycled.
European Ecolabel (EU): This product has been made according to EU eco-standards.
Green Dot (Some European countries): The company that made a product with this label supports recycling.
Plastic Recycling (Japan): Look for this sign to recycle plastic in Japan.
Enclosed Mobius Loop (Worldwide): This product was made in an eco-friendly manner.