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Celebrity travel: Go away with KT Tunstall
Singer KT Tunstall has always been environmentally conscious. When she began touring to promote her quadruple platinum debut album "Eye to the Telescope," Tunstall traveled on a biodiesel-powered bus.
"It's unacceptable to tour using non-environmentally friendly fuel when there are alternatives," says the outspoken Scot whose London home benefits from the use of reclaimed wood, Thermafleece wool insulation and solvent-free paint. She also participated in the BP Solar Neighbors program. (For every celebrity who installs solar panels in their own home, the organization donates a solar energy system to a low-income family.) Tunstall even has an eco-friendly guitar made from old whiskey barrels. The musician says she loves to tour and travel, but even when she's in swank hotels in the Maldives she maintains an eco-friendly lifestyle.
FAVORITE DESTINATION: I visited the Maldives on my first fancy holiday three years ago when I first had success and really needed to lie down for a week! I fell in love with it. What was incredible about the Maldives was that the entire island we were on consisted of sand. There didn't seem to be any dirt. You could walk around for hours barefoot with your white trousers skimming the ground, and they'd still be pristine white.
JUST SAY NO TO MAID SERVICE: I don't let housekeeping in when I stay in hotels. It cuts down on all the caustic cleaning products and aggressive water usage, and I never use the little plastic bottles of toiletries they set out. I try to take everything I might need when I travel to cut down on my consumption and I just use my own products until I run out.
HAVE BAG, WILL TRAVEL: I always try to travel as light as possible. I feel really embarrassed having loads of luggage. Also, I'm used to traveling with loads of guitars and music gear where we always have to pay extra for additional bags. Ah, you can take the girl out of Scotland, but...
THINGS YOU ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH: A good body moisturizer, otherwise I literally fall apart, my iPod and travel speakers, my BlackBerry for keeping in touch with friends, a journal and a good pen.
RESTING AFTER A TRIP: I always need about a week to recuperate and wind down after a vacation, and then usually I'm back to work after that. Last Christmas I had three weeks off and I started writing again after that. I really do need to have a clear head and some space to write songs.
ANOTHER FOREIGN DESTINATION SHE LOVES: I adore Japan. It's like visiting a different planet. The Japanese are fantastic hosts. I am sure we must seem so eccentric to one another. I was told by one journalist that my gig was 'like a squid'. Brilliant! Who knew?
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE MALDIVES:
FAMOUS FOR: Comprised of 1,190 coral islands. This makes the Maldives a coveted destination for scuba divers.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Maldives.
LANGUAGE SPOKEN: Divehi.
CURRENCY: Rufiyaa (MVR). $1US equals 12.8MVR.
TIME ZONE: GMT/UTC plus five. So if it's noon in Chicago, it's 10 p.m. in the Maldives.
TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP: Locals don't tip, but many service workers have come to expect a small gratuity from Westerners. Some resorts will add a 10- to 15-percent service charge. If they don't, leave a little something for the room and wait staff.
BARGAINING: Contrary to popular belief, not every country finds bargaining charming. If you don't see a price tag on an item, you may have a shot. But otherwise, just pay what's asked for.
Check out www.visitmaldives.com to learn more about the Maldives. For more information on KT Tunstall, go to www.kttunstall.com.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column at email@example.com or visit her Website at www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.)