Learn About Sustainability Around The World With Recyclebank’s Passport For The Planet

If you can’t take an actual round-the-world voyage, a virtual one is your next best bet. Recyclebank recently launched an application that allows users to virtually travel around the planet in order to learn about global sustainability practices, while earning points toward rewards and prizes.

Here’s how it works. Until May 7, users can log onto Recyclebank’s Passport for the Planet website and navigate through four regions to learn about local sustainability practices and how those practices can be applied in other communities. Each week, new regions will be unlocked and new information offered. Along the way, users will be able to earn Recyclebank Points, redeemable for offers and discounts, as well as enter to win prizes including a stay at Plantation, an eco-resort just outside Tampa, Florida.

The hope, said Recyclebank CEO Jonathan Hsu in a release, is that by playing this game, individuals will be inspired to make a global impact through their local choices.

“Be it biking to work, recycling your cereal carton or taking shorter showers – collectively, we all can make a difference and we hope that Passport for the Planet will help inspire and motivate our members to make more green choices that will continue far beyond Earth Month,” Hsu said.

State Department website lists where American travelers have died abroad

The LA Times recently linked to a tool on the US State Department website that allows you to search by date range and country to find out where around the world Americans have died of “non-natural” causes.

The information goes back to 2002. No names or details of the deaths are disclosed, they are only reported as suicide, drowning, drug-related, homicide, disaster, or vehicle, air or maritime accident, and listed according to date. The disclaimer on the site states that the stats may not be entirely accurate however, as they only represent those deaths disclosed to the State Department.

So can this tool tell you where you should or shouldn’t go based on your likelihood of drowning, getting into an accident, or being killed as a tourist there? Not really. Circumstances of the deaths are, of course, not disclosed and there is no distinction between expats or people who have lived in the country for many years and those who are tourists visiting on vacation.

Even countries with high numbers of deaths shouldn’t automatically be crossed off your list. Mexico, for example, lists 126 American deaths in 2009. 36 of those were homicides. Sounds like a big number, but not as big compared to the 2.6 million Americans who fly to Mexico every year. As the LA Times points out, “the odds overwhelmingly suggest that your vacation will be nonfatal.”

Another great travel resource in Moebii.com

Whether sifting through endless piles of saved travel section clippings, or spending hours online navigating destination articles, the amount of time and energy it takes to organize the perfect trip can be overwhelming. That’s what Chris Danielian and Robert Celic, the founders of Moebii discovered in their attempt to find destination information.

In late 2008, Danielian had returned from a vacation in Morocco and Celic was researching a trip to South America. Both had similar gripes about the state of travel information on the web. They realized that while there is a lot of great online travel content, it was nearly impossible to keep track of all the stories and websites. The extent of fragmentation among travel stories was shocking and traditional search engines did not address the problem. After countless hours of brainstorming, testing and refining, Danielian and Celic created Moebii.

Moebii is a website that compiles content from hundreds of publications and online sources. Users tag the stories based on keywords, thereby narrowing the pool of travel stories into a list that is relevant and up-to-date. A foodie traveling to Spain, for instance, can search for the most authentic tapas restaurants in Barcelona, while a thrill-seeker traveling to Iceland can read up on the best cave-exploring adventures outside Reykjavik. Relevant travel stories arrive on a fully-linked page and are at your fingertips withinseconds.

In addition to travel story searches, Moebii can track stories by destination or publication, set up alerts to receive new stories as they’re posted to the site, and send stories to friends. Its user-interactive component also lets travelers create itineraries for future trips, publish their own travel stories, vote stories up or down, (allowing the highest quality content to rise to the top), and have real-time conversations with other travelers about destinations in order to compare notes and insider tips.

Trying out the site myself for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. While the site is in its primary stages, the potential for travelers to save time and energy searching for just the right story is well worth bookmarking Moebii for frequent use. Give Moebii a test drive, and if you find any issues with it, feel free to contact them directly with feedback or let Gadling know. I’ll be personally visiting with Celic to discuss travel and the site, so I’m happy to pass on any messages.

GuideGecko.com launches

Have you always wanted to write your own travel guide and market it yourself, in a way that is both profitable for you and useful to those interested in your travel savvy? Or are you heading to a single region of a country but don’t want to lug an entire country guidebook with you?

You’re in luck! No longer do you have to give out your travel tips (through Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum or WikiTravel) for free or carry the heavy guidebook that you only intend to use half of. If you’ve been slaving away at your own self-published travel guidebook or if you’ve been trying to find just the right guide to your destination, head over to GuideGecko.com and market your writing through its online shop and publishing platform.

A few months ago, GuideGecko‘s founder, Daniel Quadt, got in touch with me to get some advice on how to construct a website that would be both useful for travel writers with helpful insight and travelers seeking destination information. He and I spent a good hour on Skype (the sun was setting in Honolulu for me as it was rising in Singapore for him) discussing the best ways to make his innovative online travel resource benefitial for both parties.

Just a few weeks later, Quadt made some necessary tweaks and launched GuideGecko in late March. The result is a site that offers a variety of guidebooks — both mainstream and independently published.

The greatest part about GuideGecko’s collection is that you don’t have to be a well-known, published travel writer to submit your travel tips. As a member/user, you have the ability to upload, manage, market, and price your travel expertise as you see fit! Authors and publishers can offer their guides for download and as printed books. Guides can be updated at any time and customers will always get the latest version.

GuideGecko is an equally useful travel resource. It attracts customers with its large variety of guides, tailor-made search functionalities to help them find exactly the guides they need, and very competitive prices at up to 30% below the suggested retail price for commercially available guides.

The site already offers close to 2,000 guides on nearly 200 countries and 250 cities and regions around the world. The guides are classified into several categories that range from diving to dining, shopping to sightseeing, and trekking to traveling with children.

I encourage you to have a look at GuideGecko.com yourself. If you’re not completely satisfied, I’m sure Daniel is open to any kind of feedback or suggestion. In fact, I intend to interview Daniel on behalf of Gadling within the coming week to understand the inspiration behind GuideGecko as well as learn about his own travels, so stay tuned!