With the COP26 conference ongoing, the world’s attention is turning to just how severe the climate crisis really is, and what we could be doing to help save our planet. We’ve been encouraged to make cuts and sacrifices in several areas, and although major corporations and CEOs must answer for their own disproportionate part in this crisis, there’s a lot we could be doing to mitigate damage as well.
One thing we need to focus on when it comes to halting the climate crisis is the way in which we travel. Aeroplanes generate a huge amount of pollution, as do private cars, so the question of how we can travel – or, indeed, whether we can – without contributing directly to climate change is an important one. Luckily, there are ways you can travel and keep your emissions to a minimum. Here’s how to travel in a climate-conscious world.
Check your destination first
Not all destinations are created equal when it comes to travelling and staying climate-conscious. Depending on where you are and where you’re departing from, the length of the journey may necessitate higher emissions, which is something you want to avoid. It’s worth checking platforms like ClickTravelTips to see what the best destinations are for travel, because even if you’ve been planning a holiday for a long time, you may find that there’s somewhere much better for your needs that’s also closer to home.
We can’t stress this enough: if environmental matters are at the top of your list of concerns when you travel (and they should be), then don’t fly. As a society, we haven’t yet figured out a way to approach air travel in a carbon-neutral manner, so every flight pollutes to a certain degree. Short-haul flights actually cause more pollution per km than long-haul flights, so if you do need to fly, make sure you’re doing so in as efficient a manner as possible. However, the best way to ensure you’re travelling in an environmentally conscious way is simply not to fly.
If you must fly, pack light
It stands to reason that the more a plane weighs, the more emissions it will use, since it will take more fuel to keep the plane airborne. With that in mind, if you absolutely must fly – if there are no alternative ways to reach your destination – then pack as light as you possibly can. Think very carefully and critically about the things you really need to take with you and the things you can sacrifice. Keep your travel kit to essentials only, because if you’re in desperate need of something, the chances are you’ll be able to get it wherever you’re going.
Leave the hire car behind
Along with planes, cars are also environmentally inefficient, so if you want to stay climate-conscious when travelling, don’t drive a traditional petrol vehicle. If you absolutely must hire a car or drive your own, try to procure an environmentally friendly vehicle with low emissions. This could be an electric car, for example, or a hybrid. However, it’s best to simply avoid driving altogether, as other methods of transport, such as cycling, will bypass the emissions question altogether. If you’re able, it’s a good idea to ditch cars while you travel.
Cycle as much as you can
This tip goes for both local travel – to work, for example, or on shopping trips – and for more large-scale international travel. If you’re able to bring your bicycle with you when you go on holiday, then you should definitely do so. Many holiday destinations are well-equipped for cyclists; if you’re visiting Europe, for example, you’ll notice that many European countries’ cycling infrastructure is vastly superior to that of the UK or the USA. You could even consider going on a cycling holiday; that way, you’re combining eco-friendly travel with exercise and sightseeing!
Consider a staycation
Train travel is much more environmentally friendly than many other forms of travel, so if there’s anywhere in your home country you’ve always wanted to see, you should consider going there for your next holiday. Staycations can be much less damaging to the environment than regular holidays; trains are around 75-80% less polluting than cars, and their impact compared to air travel is much, much lower as well. That’s not to say you can’t plan to visit more exotic destinations in the future. However, if you care about the environment and want to protect it, think about holidaying closer to home.
Be efficient in your hotel
Wherever you’re staying, it’s a good idea to treat it like you would your own home. That means switching off lights and other electronic equipment when you’re not using them, taking short showers, and only using as much water as you absolutely need to. If your hotel comes equipped with air conditioning, think very carefully about whether you really need to use it. Are there any other ways you could cool off instead? Air conditioning contributes immensely to pollution, so it’s always better to stay away from it unless you’re in desperate need.
Instead of packing your own food for a self-catering holiday (and thereby potentially leaving behind lots of plastic waste), think about buying local food wherever possible. That doesn’t just mean visiting local restaurants, but also shopping at sustainable local stores that sell organic produce. Of course, self-catering holidays can be good for the environment, but buying local food will help to offset your emissions even further. Studies have suggested that all-inclusive package holidays can be worse for the climate than flying, so think about whether you’re able to go self-catering for your next trip.