When it comes to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle it may feel as though you are now restricted in terms of travelling because we are constantly being told how bad it can be for carbon emissions. As true as this is, I personally do not believe that we have to cease all future travel. The world has so much to offer us, there are so many amazing places to see, there are countless experiences to be had and even with being eco-conscious, we still have to live our lives which is why I am going to share with you my 10 eco travel tips that will allow you to do the best you can for the environment whilst enjoying your trips.
Choose Transportation Carefully
I am starting with transportation because this is the biggest part of any eco travel discussion. Let’s break down the facts around carbon emissions from each transportation option.
The following information has been taken from Our World in Data:
Data = CO2 in g per passenger per km travelled
Plane Domestic Flight – 255g
Car Petrol (medium) – 192g
Car Diesel (medium) – 171g
Plane Short Haul Flight – 156g
Plane Long Haul Flight – 150g
Ferry (with car) – 130g
Train – 41g
Coach – 28g
Ferry (on foot) – 19g
These figures are, of course, an average and will vary depending on how far you travel, how many people travel with you, and how energy efficient that mode of transport is (eco, hybrid, electric vehicles, speed of travel etc.)
What is really interesting here is that a domestic flight is actually worse for the environment than a longer one and this comes down to the fact that take-off requires much more energy input than the ‘cruise’ phase of a flight. And this just goes to show that eco travel is not black and white and why additional research is always required when it comes to planning your mode of transport.
For example, if I chose to travel from where I am in the UK (Hampshire) up to Scotland I may instantly think that a plane would be quick, easy and as it is a short distance, better to take this than a car… Turns out I would be wrong. If I was travelling as a family of 4 it would be far more eco-friendly to take a small/medium car, a coach or a train.
However, we DO also have to be realistic in our travel plans and as a Mum of 2 children I have to factor in their ability to travel for a longer period, the stress it can put on them and how much time we have off. For some, travelling by train to say, Italy may be relaxing, a fun way of seeing more of the world and a treat but for my family, this would be tiring, hard work with keeping the children entertained, tricky with our luggage and it would cut into the holiday time. Flying would be far more beneficial in this case. And this is precisely why planning carefully for your individual needs whilst factoring in your carbon footprint isn’t always simple.
Offset Your Flights
Following on nicely from the above point, if you DO have to fly then you can choose to offset your flights by donating money to either an offsetting company or your chosen environmental charity. Ok so offsetting isn’t ever going to remove that CO2 that has been released into the atmosphere but it can go on to help to capture it if you choose to support tree planting or protection of our oceans or peat bogs (which is the way I went when I offset our last flights).
No matter how you choose to travel, by packing lighter and only taking what you really need you will be making a difference in the amount of fuel/energy needed to power the mode of transportation.
Book Eco Accommodation
When researching your travel/holiday destination take some time to see whether there are any eco hotels, campsites or holiday homes in this area. With such a big focus on sustainability these days you should hopefully be able to find something. I recently used ecohotels.com and found it really quick and easy to use.
Take Your Reusables
If you are already eco-conscious the odds that you have a good stash of reusables are high. These reusables don’t just have to be saved for home so if it is possible, make sure you pack up your essential reusables and take these with you in order to prevent waste during your travels.
Over tourism is a big issue in some areas of the world, for example, Hawaii has been asking people not to visit over the last year due to the impact too many visitors were having on the island including congested roads, long waits in restaurants, disruption to wildlife, water supply issues and hikes occurring on forbidden trails. We need to be mindful when choosing where to travel to and if a country/city/town/landmark is asking for fewer people to visit we should respect this. If we want to continue to be able to enjoy our planet in the future we must allow rest for nature and the people who live in the area. Always take some time before booking a destination to read up on any current issues.
Save Water and Energy
Just because you are on a break from your home and usual lifestyle it shouldn’t mean that you break from those good eco habits. Even when away, think about saving water methods like switching off the tap when brushing your teeth, taking short showers and using eco settings on the washing machine (if you are in a holiday home). Save electric by turning lights out when they aren’t needed, unplugging devices when they aren’t in use and turning sockets off at night. Even these simple steps can make your travel experience more eco-friendly.
Shop Small and Local
When away do make sure that you give back to the local community by shopping in their small independent stores, by purchasing locally sourced food and handmade products. You should also check out local excursions and tours not only because you will be helping their business but they will also be experts in the area and should take appropriate steps to inform you of the local wildlife and environment plus they will be more inclined to want to protect it than perhaps a larger corporation would.
Say No To Single-Use Plastic
I always find that when travelling to different places, plastic tends to creep in more often as it is seen as the most hygienic or convenient option. Now, if you have your reusables packed in your bags, you should be able to avoid a lot of those single-use plastic items but if you couldn’t take all you needed don’t forget that you can still use your voice to politely say no. If you don’t require a straw for your drink, just let the bar no when you order. If you don’t want plastic cutlery ask the food place if they do have metal ones available (always worth the ask). If you don’t want a plastic bag, check if there is another option or just use a backpack instead. There could be a really simple alternative if you just stop to check.
Leave Only Your Footprints
I love this phrase and I use it quite often because once we are gone, there really shouldn’t be any evidence that we there. This is used to encourage people to take their litter away with them on a beach but it needs to be applied to all areas that we visit. We should NOT be leaving litter anywhere we go. On top of this I also need to add that picking up after others who haven’t been as considerate is also a really important step. I know they should have taken it but if they haven’t, you can be that better person and leave that travel destination a little cleaner.
If we all just took these eco travel tips and applied them to each trip we take we could make a big difference.
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