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Earth Day Challenge

In celebration of Earth Day, we’re challening all travelers to Make Good with the Earth by contributing to the Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program, offsetting your travels for the year. When you make a donation, the Conservation Fund plants native trees on protected lands to aid in the fight against climate change, promote the restoration of wildlife habitats, improve water and air quality and enhance outdoor recreation areas.

Through the challenge, we’re encouraging travelers to address the carbon impact of both their past and future trips. All you need to do is follow the guidelines below to measure your carbon footprint, and make a donation to the Conservation Fund to negate the carbon emissions created by your trip.

Duration: 1 day
Offset: 0.4280 short tons of CO2
Cost: $3.42 per person

Includes:
* One roundtrip flight averaging 1736 miles
* One night stay in upscale, full-service hotel
* 71 miles traveled per day via rental car, assuming 20.5 mpg

Duration: 4 days
Offset: 0.7315 short tons of CO2
Cost: $5.85 per person

Includes:
* One roundtrip flight averaging 2512 miles
* Four night stay in upscale, full-service hotel
* 284 (71 miles*4 days) miles traveled per day via rental car, assuming 20.5 mpg

Duration: 7 days
Offset: 1.0367 short tons of CO2
Cost: $8.29 per person

Includes:
* One roundtrip flight averaging 3148 miles
* Seven-night stay in upscale, full-service
* 497 (71 miles*7 days) miles traveled per day via rental car, assuming 20.5 mpg

(Note: These offset levels were established based on industry averages car mileage, hotel type, and flight length. Every penny of your donation will go directly to Go ZeroSM Travel, the first program of its kind in the nation.)

Jennifer

My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

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