While summer vacation is often the highlight of the year for most people, there’s no doubt that when it comes to the climate crisis, flying abroad in big, fuel-guzzling, air-polluting jumbo jets is doing the planet a disservice. However, increasing awareness of global warming has inspired new vacation styles dubbed ‘eco-breaks’, ranging from bike rides to rail expeditions. These enable aspiring “green travelers” to enjoy their summer vacation while conscientiously reducing their carbon footprint. Even for the frequent flyers among us who can’t resist the temptation to take a flight, airlines are starting to embrace the concept of eco-friendly travel, and there are now more ways than ever to ensure we travel in the greenest way and way fly possible.
Just a few years ago, an eco-break was almost unheard of. But now, with increased understanding of climate change, being a green traveler is no longer limited to one-off gestures; for many it has become a state of mind. However, as more and more people abandon the idea of a one-off annual holiday and whet their appetites for the trendier array of multiple shorter breaks in a year, it has inevitably led to a steep rise in carbon-intensive air travel. Therefore, it is more important than ever that efforts are made to increase sustainability before the climate crisis really gets out of hand, to a point of no return. Several tour operators such as Feather Down Farms, Forest and TYF have already recognized the important role eco-tourism can play in reducing the impact of climate change, especially for those who enjoy multiple holidays a year! These companies offer eco-friendly getaways ranging from eco-friendly glamping to sustainable outdoor recreation.
Being a green traveler doesn’t have to be just holidaying in the UK either. How about participating in a sustainable cycling holiday? Travel on foot with your bike on the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, France, then cycle the Veloroute du Lin between Pourville sur Mer and Fe-camp. This 50-mile route has become a hotspot for experienced cyclists and vacationers alike. With ferries costing just £42 per adult including bike hire, this is not only an absolute bargain but a prime example of how planes can be a thing of the past when it comes to international travel.
If cycling doesn’t appeal to you, or isn’t quite the relaxing experience you had in mind, why not give Interrail a try? There are a multitude of reasons why traveling by train is preferable to earning air miles, so this summer consider flying from London St Pancras International station rather than London Heathrow Airport. A stunning study by Eurostar concluded that a train journey from London to Paris uses 90 percent less CO2 per person than the same journey by plane. This impressive number is not surprising given that the aviation industry contributes almost 9 percent to global CO2 emissions.
Another advantage of traveling by train is that train stations are often right in town or in the city center, so there is no need to waste money or fuel traveling to the top tourist spots here, as would often be the case when arriving at an airport, since these are rarely in a built-up area. Walking or cycling from the train station instead of taking a bus or taxi from the airport is another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling. If the environmental benefits of rail travel aren’t enough to convince you to give it a try, the fact that trains offer significantly more legroom and the ultimate benefit of no luggage restrictions will surely convince you! Not to mention that buying train tickets often gives access to other perks, such as: B. 2 for 1 tickets to the best museums across Europe or 25 percent discount on museums across Italy for ticket holders on one of Italy’s Frecce high speed trains.
However, it is inevitable that sometimes flying will be the only option. Luckily, in the golden age of green travel, there are now more ways than ever to ensure we can reduce our carbon footprint even while flying. Several tour operators such as British Airways indicate on their website which flights are the most environmentally friendly, reducing the need for so-called ‘ghost flights’ where planes travel for very few passengers. Companies like Booking.com have also provided tools to help tourists choose more eco-friendly accommodation and flights, making the decision to travel lower in carbon less of a hassle and far more practical. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a budding explorer, there’s no doubt you can spend your summer vacation this year without racking up polluting air miles.