Taking the greener path

If eco-trips make you feel like a more responsible traveler, wait until you try sustainable travel. WholeTravel.com, still in beta, expands on the notion of caring about the environment and wildlife by listing accommodations that also interact with nearby communities, support the local culture and make efforts to educate customers about sustainability.

What's hot: WholeTravel has devised its own rating system to rank hotels, resorts and tour operators based on their environmental practices, economic management, social and cultural support, and customer interaction. When you look at a property, its rating is measured by a bar graph in a section called "Whole Ranking." Click on the "What is it?" link to get the breakdown and definitions of each category.

What's not: The way you search for a trip. The "blue sky" unconstrained search tool asks, "What's your grand adventure?" rather than searching destinations or properties by familiar criteria such as when or where you want to go. This technique is interesting and fun but not comprehensive or intuitive. This type of search tool -- think "relaxing" or "fly-fishing" versus "Brazil" or "New York" -- would be more helpful as a supporting feature instead of as the lead. But don't give up. Once you're inside, you can narrow your search by country, amenities and -- my favorite -- activities.

-- Jen Leo

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