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Matthäus RojekGetty Images

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Taking in the scenery from a boat is, for me, the best part of any vacation. A river cruise along the Seine, a vaporetto tour through the canals of Venice, a catamaran floating lazily in a Caribbean lagoon—yes, yes, and yes! While I’m all for relaxing and letting someone else do the work (we’re on vacation, after all!), sometimes it’s nice to get in a little adventure and exercise. For that, you can’t beat kayaking.

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GreenKayakers exploring Copenhagen.

Jens Carstensen/GreenKayak

BOOK NOW Trips to Copenhagen, Denmark

Paddling around the waterways of Europe in a kayak sounds like a pretty darn good vacation to me, and if it does to you too, check out GreenKayak before booking your next trip. This eco-friendly program provides kayaks and gear for free—yes, FREE!—at locations in Denmark, Norway, Germany, and Ireland, in exchange for one simple task in return: You pick up any trash you see floating around while you paddle. Our planet’s oceans are growing increasingly polluted every day, and the GreenKayak initiative’s goal is simple: to fight this environmental pollution by enlisting the help of people who love the environment. GreenKayakers have collected nearly 24,000 pounds of trash—that’s 12 tons!— since the program began in 2017. As they say on their website, “Together, we paddle for the oceans!”

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GreenKayakers in Bergen, Norway.

Frithjof Fosse/GreenKayak

BOOK NOW Trips to Bergen, Norway

All you have to do to take part is reserve a two-hour outing online (all bookings are for two people, one of whom must be over 18, and both people must know how to swim). You’ll be provided with a two-person kayak, life vests, a receptacle for the garbage, and a trash picker (so you don’t have to actually touch anything you pick up), all absolutely free. Then you get to tool around to your heart’s content, checking out the scenery and collecting any debris you see floating around. When your two hours are up, just drop off your trash when you return your kayak—and don’t forget to post your photos on social media using the hashtag #greenkayak. You’ll be the envy of all your friends back home, you’ll get in some great exercise, and you’ll be doing your part to save the oceans, all at the same time. Vacation goals achieved, and then some!

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