As our world is more threatened by environmental change, we’ve initiated the Green Revolution, finding ways to live our lives in a more Earth friendly manner and disposing of harmful methods that alters the world around us.
As a traveller, i’ve found that less is always more, minimalism yields the best results, and changing my travel patterns, my habits, and my mode of transportation has not only allowed me to make a small yet helpful contribution, but to also save money and find myself going farther than before.
Green traveling is usually viewed as eco-travel, residing in sustainable places full of open spaces and farm life, and while this is enticing to some, other people enjoy their jet-setting destinations. The revolution has now hit the world’s popular destinations and green friendly travel is now more possible than ever! Want to save some money, help the planet, and see the world? Here are three affordable ways you can make environmentally friendly travel possible!
Trains Over Planes
A tour through Europe’s great cities is a classic must for the modern traveller, a few days in each city opens up a world of culture, cuisine, and experiences. While the initial trip to Europe does require trans-ocean air travel (unless you prefer the gentler laid back oceanic routes) getting around from country to country can be easily accessed by Europe’s extensive railway system. When planning your trip, make note to purchase a Eurail pass. The Eurail pass allows a certain number of days with unlimited travel into the major city centers. The trains themselves, now being converted into more efficient models, allow less of a carbon footprint than air travel does. Eurostar, whose high speed trains are connected to every major city, posted the results of a 2007 study in which their trains emitted a tenth of the carbon dioxide that flying did. All throughout Europe, major railway systems are aiming to cut back their carbon by as much as 35%. But other than the math, traveling by train has it’s major advantages. The classic route from Milan to Zurich passes through spectacular one of a kind alpine scenery while traveling from Barcelona to Paris runs through pristine farmlands, hills and sunflower fields. Going to see the city for a day and can’t spend for a hotel? Jump from city to city, sleeping on the train as it travels at night (Because were you really planning to read that novel?) and waking up in a new place. It makes for the ultimate efficiency and keeps your wallet full.
Hike or Bike
Wether you’re exploring the urban landscape of New York City, or the canals of Amsterdam, inner city bicycle travel for tourists is becoming more popular all around the world. In Japan, a recent “shared bike” initiative was launched throughout the city of Yokohoma, just outside of Tokyo. For only $14.00 (no thats not a typo, that’s actually fourteen dollars) you can rent a bicycle for an entire MONTH! You can also rent the bicycles for a day, but the best part is after you’re done you can leave the bicycles at any of the predetermined kiosks around the city where another rider, using only their smartphone, can unlock and take it somewhere else. Similar initiatives have been launched in the famously bicycle friendly city of Amsterdam while New York, Rome, London, and Paris are getting more people to bike their streets in the near future. One of the biggest joys of seeing a major European destination is going by foot, doing away with the large tour group busses. Recently, the city of Florence, Italy cut off their entire historical center to traffic creating an entirely pedestrian zone. Not only does it make for pleasant walks through the wide open piazzas, the town squares, but it is also meant to protect the artistic treasures, such as the cathedral walls and their priceless pieces, from smoke, carbon dioxide, and dust. A major restoration effort peeled back decades of dirt and grime so that the buildings pristine marble shines brightly once again.
Smaller is Better
Traveling in small groups has it’s advantages. There’s less to spend on food and hotel rooms as there are less people to worry about, you can trade in large minibuses for smaller economy and eco-friendly rental cars, and a smaller group creates a smaller carbon footprint. Buy locally made items instead of heading to the large markets and convenience stores. Explore the famous open air markets, whose products are locally produced and more organically sustainable. If planning a tour group, check with the operator to determine the mode of transportation and wether they are keen to offset their carbon. Reduce any waste and when staying in hotels, bring and reuse items such as towels or toiletries, therefore lessening the need to replace them.
Green travel makes seeing the world more affordable while promoting responsible and environmentally friendly practices. It can be applied to any destination on Earth and has it’s ecological as well as it’s practical advantages. With more people adopting a greener travel lifestyle, cities around the world will adapt to the changing conditions and promote affordable and efficient programs to protect their artistic and historical institutions, as well as creating a happier and more breathable experience.