Sustainability extends beyond how often hotels wash their towels or where they place their recyclables. It's all about striking a balance between our wants and the needs of our communities and future generations.
We are more socially and environmentally concerned than ever now thanks to the growth of ecotourism and green holidays, but how can we maintain this momentum so that we travel less and have a smaller environmental impact?
Whether you’re about to set off, or you’re looking ahead to your next holiday already, here’s your guide to travelling sustainably.
Choosing The Destination For Your Sustainable Holiday
Choosing the destination for your next holiday can be the most exciting part, but before you book your holiday, there are certain places you can visit which will reduce your environmental footprint.
Avoiding Overrun Holidays
The tourism sector has a penchant for promoting overrun destinations. At first glance, having a bustling tourist industry may seem like a boon to the economy, but no community or ecosystem can sustain such a steady influx of visitors.
Who cleans the waste you create? When rents are increased to make room for holiday lets, who can still afford their apartment? What other species are forced to seek refuge as humans encroach upon their territory? In the end, it's the local inhabitants, the environment, and the wildlife that pay the price for overcrowded tourist destinations.
Pick A Green Destination
Environmental pressures are having a greater impact on some countries than others, especially in those with delicate ecosystems. By travelling to these eco-friendly locations, you contribute to the economies of the nations that are fueling the development of the ecotourism industry.
Consider this the next time you're trying to decide where to go on holiday: if you are in Europe, you could spend your time on a congested Majorca beach, or you could travel by train to the Dutch countryside and spend two weeks there, exploring the area.
The impacts of these two sorts of holidays on the environment are very different. Choosing a responsible holiday destination can help you lessen your effect on the planet.
If you're going to book a trip through a travel agency, go with one that supports ecotourism. For instance, they might invest a portion of their earnings on reforestation or wildlife conservation, or they might spend time and money hiring and educating locals.
Explore Closer To Home
Aside from avoiding overly-visited places and choosing green destinations, you could also consider travelling closer to home. Sometimes the sights in your own neighbourhood go overlooked in favour of those further afield.
The best news is that travelling within your own country can help you greatly minimise your carbon footprint, making it a much more environmentally friendly holiday option. Neither of us needs to spend a fortune on an international plane ticket to enjoy adventurous hikes and tranquil beaches.
Choosing The Travel For Your Eco-Friendly Holiday
Trying to figure out how to get to your destination can be confusing enough, without taking into account all the extra CO2 emissions you might be creating in the process. We’ve compared the top methods of travel to help you choose the best for your eco-friendly holidays.
Travelling By Plane
Flying is the most evident cause of environmental harm when it comes to transportation, accounting for 12% of all transport-related CO2 emissions. If you think that one or two flights won't make much of a difference, remember that a reasonably quick return trip from London to Rome carries a carbon footprint of 234kg of CO2 per passenger, which is more than the average produced by citizens of 17 countries annually.
It isn't always feasible to use another kind of transportation in place of flying. If you only have a two-week holiday window to visit family abroad, you may not want to use that time to travel across the ocean or on a train for days.
However, there are still ways to mitigate the drawbacks of flying halfway across the globe. Select a carrier that operates newer, more efficient aircraft that produce less CO2. Using Glooby, you can find the most ecological flights for your holiday.
If you can, try to stay for longer at each stop and take the shortest route between them. Because takeoffs and landings consume the most fuel, limiting the number of stops will cut down on the amount of CO2 released as you travel to your destination.
A carbon offset is an additional option. It won't lessen how harmful CO2 is to the ecosystem. However, investing your money in a carbon offset project ensures that at least some good will be accomplished. Learn more about how to do so in this great guide by Which.
Travelling By Train
Taking a train, especially an electric train, is a better option for the environment than flying. You can take the Eurostar across the channel to Europe if you want to plan a trip away from the UK. According to their CO2 per passenger data, flying from London to Paris emits a staggering 57.8 kg, whereas using the train emits only 4 kg.
Many European train networks are powered by electricity, so it's possible to transfer to regional services and keep on your eco-friendly way to your destination. Alternatively, you could get an Interrail pass and use it as a "hop-on, hop-off" ticket to travel between multiple countries.
Most people believe flying is always the quickest option. Well, that's a yes and a no. It's possible that air travel can shorten the time it takes to get from point A to point B compared to taking the train. However, this does not factor in the time lost in line at airport security or the fact that airports for so-called "city" destinations are often located on the outskirts, requiring still another trek until you can kick off your shoes in your hotel room. However, city train stations are more likely to actually be where they say they are, allowing you to be in the heart of the excitement in no time.
Even in the UK, trains score as one of the most environmentally friendly forms of transportation (international trains, which tend to be electric, come out on top). The UK Department of Transport estimates that travelling from London to Glasgow by petrol-powered car generates about 3,300% more CO2e per passenger than does taking the train.
Travelling By Car
Previously, travelling the open road required hopping into a gas-guzzling, pollution-producing car. We now have options for logging miles while minimising our impact on the environment. For transportation that doesn't harm the environment, consider switching to an emissions-free electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid operating in electric mode.
You won't have to think about running out of juice with an electric car, even if you intend to go long distances. Many of the most recent models have ranges of more than 200 miles on a single charge, and there are an increasing number of charge points throughout the UK.
The UK has one of the biggest charge points networks in all of Europe. Nearly every motorway service stop has rapid charge points, allowing you to refuel in less time than it takes to complete your latte. Many hotels and destinations also offer on-site charging stations.
You'll also be able to avoid paying the costly London Congestion Charge if you plan to travel through the streets of England's capital while on holiday in a completely electric vehicle.
And for those of you who want to go to mainland Europe, the E-Grand Tour of Switzerland provides a 1,600-kilometre drive that passes through picturesque Alpine landscapes, clear lakes, and historic villages. Over 300 charging stations are located along the way. The AA offers a handy guide on how to charge electric vehicles across Europe, too.
With just a little extra thought and pre-planning, you can make your holiday more eco-friendly and aligned with your sustainable values.
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