With the rising threat of global warming and a strong focus in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world on environmental protection, it is imperative to know of ways to lower your carbon footprint when you’re travelling. It is always important to remember to renew your EHIC card and book travel insurance when you are travelling abroad, but not many people think about the safety of the environment around them during their trip. With the enhanced focus on eco-friendly travel around the world, we have put together some top ways to lower your carbon footprint whilst travelling.
Before You Go
Before you go on your environmentally friendly trip, you can prepare to go-green by minimising your houses’ footprint. Simple things like turning off all of the lights and electrical appliances, and turning down the thermostat can really help to cut down energy usage. Unplugging electrical appliances also helps as they can still leach power even when they aren’t switched on. These are all important ways to prepare for your eco-friendly trip and getting into the routine of switching off appliances can be something you take with you on your travels.
You also need to make sure that you are covered for potential health issues. Your domestic health insurance policy won’t cover you if you end up in the hospital. You should get an EHIC before the trip.
How To Travel
The way you travel is also important in reducing your footprint. Flying to a destination is the most polluting way to travel, particularly when it comes to short haul flights (defined by the UK Treasury as a flight that undergoes an absolute distance of under 2000 miles). On the other hand, train travel is widely recognised as the least polluting method of transportation. It has been estimated that if domestic flights transferred to rail, carbon emissions would drop by between 118,000 – 362,000 tonnes and nitrogen oxides by 18,000 – 58,000 tonnes. However, it is not always practical to travel this way.
Nevertheless, getting to various parts of the world, Europe in particular if travelling from the UK, and the few extra hours it might take on a train compared to the plane would be worth the reduction of environmental impact. In fact, getting to some places in Europe via train is actually quicker, if you count in the travel to and from the airport and the waiting around time. For example, travelling by Eurostar from London to Avignon, via Paris is just a six hour trip, whereas a flight would take longer due to the waiting around and travel to and from the airport.
If you do have to travel by air, it’s important to take the most direct route possible. Although direct routes might be a little bit more expensive, the more landing and taking off an airplane does, the more fuel it burns, so paying that little bit extra can actually save a lot of fuel. Also try and choose an energy-efficient plane.
Where To Stay
When you choose your location, it is important to look at accommodation that is eco-friendly if you want to reduce your carbon footprint. Many travel companies now offer holidays which support sustainable development, do not impact negatively on the environment and provide support to local communities. A wide number of hotels and other types of accommodation are beginning to use environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar energy or hydroelectric power to power their hotels, as well as having a strong focus on aspects such as recycling and reusing. Staying somewhere that uses renewable energy, no matter how small, is always a good way to help reduce your carbon footprint on the world while travelling. If you know people in the country you’re going to, you can reduce your carbon footprint even more by scrapping the hotel and staying with them instead.
During Your Stay
During your stay there are a variety of things you can do to reduce your environmental impact. Things like conserving water by keeping showers short or turning off the water when brushing your teeth are important. In addition to this, turning off the TV, lights, heating or air-conditioning and reusing sheets and towels instead of having them washed every day are all easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint during your stay. Choosing environmentally friendly transport while you are staying is also a great way to help. Hiring bikes, using buses and trains or simply walking around is far better than driving, and you’re also much more likely to engage in a true cultural experience and discover things that are off the beaten track this way. Respecting the local environment, particularly when trekking or hiking, by staying on marked tracks and not littering are all important ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
When you’re travelling abroad, there are a variety of ways to make sure that you are being eco-friendly and reducing your carbon footprint. Whether you’re choosing alternative travel to airplanes (although this is not always possible), steering clear of domestic flights by using other forms of transportation, using local buses or walking when you’re in the destination, choosing a green hotel, and simply respecting the environment while you’re in the country are all easy ways to make sure that you are travelling in an eco-friendly way.