Green ways to travel: 10 tips

Florine van den Bent

Marketing Manager bij Regreener

Travelling. For many of us it is impossible to imagine our lives without it. We do it to relax, to get new perspectives, to be inspired and some of us travel for work.

What many people don’t realize is that tourism will be responsible for about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if we continue at this rate (source). Currently, 49% of tourism emissions are caused by transportation, 12% by accommodations and 22% by food, drinks and goods (source).

These statistics show that the impact of travel on the environment is huge and that we could make a significant impact for the sake of our planet if we all made conscious choices in this area.

In this blog, we provide you with tips to think about to travel more consciously and greener.


Means of transportation


If we take the average emissions per passenger, flying compared to taking the bus can easily mean 13 times more CO2 emissions. Taking the train is on average 4 times less polluting than flying and taking the car (fossil-fueled, depending on the number of passengers) is 2 or 3 times less polluting than flying (source). Our first and most obvious tip therefore reads:

1. Travel by bus, train or boat.

In general, these means of transportation have a less negative impact on the environment than travelling by plane. Added to this, if you take longer for your trip, it can be engaging in itself and does not have to be merely functional in nature. A logical tip that follows is to consciously decide where to travel.

2. Choose destinations that are sustainable

It might be an open door, yet few people take the carbon emissions of their trip into account when choosing a destination. The closer to home you are, the smaller the carbon footprint. Destinations in your own country or surrounding countries are often surprisingly beautiful and, more importantly, a more sustainable choice.

If you do have to go to a destination where flying is the only option, take the following tip into account when booking your flight:

3. Try to book a direct flight

Taking off and landing planes is where most CO2 is emitted, so one flight is better than multiple. Next, if you want to rent a car, or travel by car altogether, the following tip might apply to you:

4. Travel by electric or hybrid car

In Europe, an electric car generates up to 69 per cent less CO2 per kilometre than a petrol car (source), so you'll make a big difference there.

Regardless of the vehicle you choose, there are still certain choices you can make when you are on the road. When travelling, you are often on the road for a long time, so drinking water is essential. Yet you might only find out you are thirsty after a few hours, and if you don't brought a water bottle yourself, you have no choice but to buy a plastic bottle of water on the road. If all travelling people stopped buying plastic bottles, it would make a huge difference on the 1 million plastic bottles currently sold every minute (source). Hence our last tip for on the go:

5. Bring your own water bottle


Accommodation


Besides choosing the most eco-friendly way to travel, the choices we make at the destination itself also play a big role. Be considerate when choosing the accommodation, but also the activities you will do at the destination and any local travel.

When it comes to a sustainable stay, besides a low impact on the environment there is also a social component, which means it is important to consider the local population. There are many different types of accommodation, each with its own advantages and disadvantages when you consider environmental impact and social impact. Finding out how sustainable the accommodation actually is often requires some research, which is why our next tip reads:

6. Do thorough research on the sustainability of the accommodation.

Always check the 'about us' page on hotel websites or read more about the landlord of the accommodation. That way you can better assess whether they are actually local and whether the money you pay ends up in the local economy.

The type of accommodation with the worst environmental impact is cruise ships. This is mainly because of the huge petrol consumption and the way waste is led into the water (source). ). In addition, the social impact is often very negative; mass tourism overloads destinations for several days and ultimately benefits the local population very little.

Large international hotel chains may forget to consider the environment due to large scale and budget offers. The impact on the local population and economy is often negative, as large hotel buildings affect the streetscape and local accommodation is competed out. In addition, pay attention to their sustainability policies; if they call themselves 'sustainable' but nowhere transparently explain how or why, it is doubtful that this is actually the case.

Airbnb may be a sustainable option, but in some big cities it has a negative impact on local citizens. In Amsterdam, for example, large-scale rentals through Airbnb have caused a housing shortage and nuisance from noisy guests. So this is a good option if you are staying outside the city, in quieter areas.

The best option is staying in a local B&B or guest house. These are accommodations run by locals in their own homes. The money goes directly to the local host, the house is already part of the local landscape and an added benefit is that you get much more in touch with the local culture! In summary, this boils down to the following tip:

7. If you have the choice, choose accommodation that is locally run.


Once at your destination


Next, when you set out to explore the area, consider how you get around. A car that runs on fossil fuel creates CO2 emissions and is also more expensive. Therefore the next tip is as follows:

8. Walk, cycle or use public transport.

Should you plan to buy souvenirs to take home, as well as for your daily shopping, observe the following tip:

9. Shop at small local shops as much as possible.

To support the local economy, it is best to shop at local shops rather than the big supermarket chains or international fast food chains. Besides, this way you also get more in touch with the culture and locals, which only enriches the trip! The main advantage is that this way of shopping is the most sustainable, as it does not involve long-distance transport. International transport pollutes the air and water, so by shopping locally, you avoid this negative impact.

Finally, a tip that doesn't apply to every traveller, but still important to consider. Should you be near a large lake or the sea and plan to explore underwater life, keep the following in mind:

10. Snorkel and dive responsibly.

We are referring to coral in particular, which is currently under a lot of pressure due to global warming. Try to avoid direct contact with the coral, which is fragile and not easily repaired. Snorkel or dive in small groups to avoid crowds. Do not feed fish or other animals and do not use chemical sunscreen before entering the water.


Conclusion


If you want to travel as green as possible, the biggest gain is in the choice of means of transport. Flying is almost always the least green choice. Still, in certain circumstances it will be the only option, in which case there are still ways to minimise CO2 emissions. Apart from the means of transport, there are many ways to minimise CO2 emissions during the journey and at the destination.

Climate action starts with ourselves and making sustainable choices during your trip can make a significant impact. Want to offset remaining emissions, or simply do your bit by supporting green projects? Regreener can help!

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