It’s time to plan your next vacation. Will you hit the slopes to carve up some snow, or lounge by the seaside enjoying some vitamin D? Well, while you ponder your next trip away, remember: how you travel is just as important as where you travel. Here are a few tips to green your travel, so you can have a truly guilt-free trip!

1. Consider what’s in your baggage

In a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, the UN Environment Program estimates that tourism would generate through 2050 an increase of 251% in solid waste disposal. And while what you do while travelling can have a major impact on your overall waste, what you bring with you can also make a big difference to the environmental footprint of your travel. One easy way to reduce your waste is by ditching single-use, ‘travel-sized’ toiletries. Instead, consider bringing ‘solid’ toiletries like shampoo and conditioner bars, or look at buying environmentally-friendly products in bulk that you can then transfer into reusable, travel-sized containers. Make sure the products that you bring are environmentally friendly too. For example, some sunscreens contain toxic ingredients that are doing serious damage to the world’s coral reefs. Check out our post on this topic for more information on what to look out for. 

And to save yourself money and prevent waste, bring a reusable water bottle and prepare snacks at home to bring with you for long journeys. That way, you’ll be less tempted to purchase food and drinks with single-use plastics or packaging.

2. Avoid the plane, take the train (or bike)

Drive, bike, fly, train: there are so many ways to get to your next destination. But the carbon footprint of these travel options varies significantly. Research from 2018 shows that flying is by far the least environmentally friendly, costing 255 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. On the other end of the scale, long-haul train travel accounts for only around six grams per kilometre.

Graph from Our World in Data showing the carbon footprint of travel for various transport options.
Graph from Our World in Data showing the carbon footprint of travel for various transport options.

And there are plenty of great international rail routes to choose from if you live in Europe or the United Kingdom. Check out this list of night trains in Europe, where you can sleep through your travel and arrive fresh at your destination in the morning – with the whole day free for sightseeing! Routes include Stockholm to Narvik, Paris to Rome, or London Paddington to Penzance: this Guardian article covers their top trips. 

When you get to your destination and want to explore, why not mix things up? Instead of renting a car, grab yourself an e-bike at a quarter of the price and enjoy the scenery while getting some exercise too. 

3. Check your accommodation options

Getting a good night’s rest is crucial to being able to really enjoy your holiday. And if you book a more sustainable accommodation option, you’ll be able to rest easier knowing that you’ve reduced your own environmental impact. There are hundreds of great sustainable options for hotels and hostels around the world to choose from, so do your research (check out ecobnb.com for a variety of sustainable choices). If the weather is nice enough, you might even consider getting out into nature and camping! Just make sure that whatever you bring to the campsite, you take out with you when you leave.

Then there are the little things that you can do, regardless of where you stay – like resisting a bubble bath every night, minimizing the use of air conditioning, recycling wherever possible, avoiding the mini toiletries and turning lights off where they’re not needed. 

4. Support climate-friendly, local shops and products

Local food and shopping really is the way to go when it comes to exploring a new city. Before you leave, do some research to get to know the locally-made brands and stores that will most benefit from your support. Particularly if you have loved ones at home expecting a gift from your travels, buying something unique and local is not only thoughtful but a great sustainable choice too.

Supporting local businesses when you travel is good for the community and environment.

When your stomach starts to grumble, where and what you eat matters too. Skip the chain brands and ask around for local recommendations. Even better, you could choose to check out local vegetarian or vegan eateries. The Happy Cow app and website will show you a list of user-rated vegan and vegetarian restaurants wherever you are in the world – and there are many other blogs and websites to help you make the best and most delicious choice. 

So, the next time you travel, remember: there are so many low-fuss ways that you can minimize your impact on the environment. By doing so, you’ll be able to truly enjoy your holiday – and help make sure that future generations can too.

Be curious:

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