Have you ever heard of Solar Impulse? It is an exceptional story about two ambitious men who are flying around the world with a purely solar-powered airplane. Although it may take a while before this technology will be available for everyone, there are already a lot of possibilities to make all your travels more sustainable. Nowadays, green travelling has become more and more popular, where you consider environmental aspects in all your trip activities.
The world has become smaller and it has become easy to fly around the world faster and cheaper than ever before. Travelling abroad is great opportunity to relax, see the world, widen your cultural knowledge and meet new people. However, every trip made, whether by plane, bus or train, increases our carbon footprint by a great deal. Whether you’re going on a family vacation to Egypt, visiting a friend in Spain or enjoying the beautiful nature of Madagascar, there are various choices you can make to reduce your impact on the environment.
Transport has a significant impact on the environment while it uses a lot of energy and is the second biggest producer of greenhouse gases after energy sector. According to the distance of your journey, choose your mode of transport wisely. As taking a domestic flight is a faster or even cheaper option, it is often not a very environmentally-friendly choice. By choosing a plane over train you alone are responsible for 29 times as much carbon dioxide. Here are some airlines ranked by their fuel-efficiency.
Travelling by train with 156 fellow passengers creates 14 grams CO2 per passenger per km, whereas driving a minivan with four people 55 grams and flying a plane with 88 passengers 285 grams. Whenever possible, choose to take a train instead of renting a car or buying plane tickets.
If you are low on budget, but the urge to see the world is still big, ridesharing is your way to go. Surely you have heard about carpooling as a commuting option. Recently,, it is also becoming more popular for longer distances. One of the most famous international platforms is BlaBlaCar which is available in 22 countries and has more than 25 million members. It is an opportunity to travel all over Europe via carpooling while saving money, reducing your environmental impact and having interesting discussions and making new friends at the same time! Ridefinder and Carpoolworld are other international communities worth checking out.
During Your Stay
Sometimes people forget their environmental habits when they are out of their home and regular schedule and the result is that they can act more carelessly towards the environment when travelling. However, there are no excuses why you should behave any differently while visiting another city or travelling abroad. When planning to visit different sightseeing objects or just a tour around the city, try to choose more sustainable transport modes, like public transportation or bicycle rentals, and plan your routes ahead. Also, turn off the lights when leaving the room and use less water when brushing teeth or taking a shower.
In case you are a solo traveller or on a road with friends, you can consider the very low-impact (and low-cost) accommodation of couch surfing. If you’re looking for more traditional accommodation, try smaller scale properties. Farms, cottages, holiday houses and even campsites are ideal for those who enjoy being surrounded by natural beauty. If this is still not a convenient solution, consider the accommodation’s green practices and sustainable activities when booking your stay. You can find some green accommodation choices all over the world, and you can start with these useful environmentally-friendly hotel listings here or here. GreenAdvisor will easily help you find the most sustainable accommodation options based on all local and traveler’s ratings in your preferred area.
Just like you would act at home, be sure to be respectful the local culture and nature. Research basic customs and phrases of the region before departing. Follow the Leave No Trace principles when exploring natural areas.
A big impact that you can have when travelling is supporting local. When grocery shopping or looking for memorable souvenirs, find local markets and businesses. These spots usually have an authentic atmosphere and fresh, unique products. Moreover, you buy local, you support the local economy, local jobs and local industries. Avoid multinational chain stores or businesses that are disconnected from the local economy, as your money will not stay in the area. You can read more about tourism and travel economic impact here.
Reduce, reuse, recycle as always! Keep in mind, that this might not be your home country, but you still need to look out for the whole planet. Recycling systems vary greatly from one country to another, so the easiest way to reduce your impact is to reduce your waste. Avoid unnecessary packaging and say “no, thank you” to disposables like plastic cutlery and straws, and take your lunch and water with you in a reusable container.
Next time when planning your trip, think twice before booking a five-star hotel or buying plane tickets with luxurious airlines. We have to look out for our planet in all our actions, wherever we go and wherever we are. Travelling green is good not only for the environment but also for our own health and well-being!