Sustainable travel was once a tricky test for even the most dedicated eco-warriors, but nowadays with more and more green solutions all over the globe, it’s actually easier than you think! We’ve collated some useful tips and tricks so you can travel more sustainably from the moment you set off.
Try Not To Fly
We all know that flying is the worst way of travelling in terms of damage to the planet - but it’s also a pain in the a** right now. Some days this year saw over 15,000 flights delayed and thousands cancelled worldwide, and the chaos doesn’t seem to be stopping very quickly. Don’t panic though - if you don’t want to be caught sleeping in an airport you’ve got options…
Our team have just come back from interrailing around Europe, and we can confidently say that travelling by train is so much more relaxing and reliable. It can actually turn out cheaper than taking to the skies multiple times, too (check out Interrail’s website for deals on their monthly passes). Europe’s railways are among the best in the world, with heaps of modern, electric trains that take high-speed scenic routes throughout the continent. You’ll see and experience so much more on a train journey, and you can even sometimes get away from that annoying kid kicking the back of your seat…
Fine, it sometimes takes a bit longer than flying, but your train might be emitting up to 10x less greenhouse gas emissions than a similar flight. You’ll also normally arrive right in the centre of the city you’re visiting, so you don’t need to pay for an extra transfer. Good for the environment, and your conscience!
If you do have to travel by plane, you can offset your carbon emissions by paying an additional small percentage of your flight cost. You can do this personally and save money by calculating the cost of your emissions and giving that money to an environmental organisation of your choice.
Top tip: Check out Eurostar’s cheap ticket page for some sweet deals on train travel across North-West Europe.
Eat Less Meat
The next best thing you can do for the environment on your travels is eat less meat and dairy products. Producing one kilo of red meat like lamb or beef can emit as many emissions as a 90-mile car journey, and some studies suggest that livestock agriculture produces around a half of all man-made emissions.
Delicious veggie and vegan restaurants are popping up all over Europe, and are a more sustainable solution for a meal out if you’re feeling extra fancy. Cities are a hotspot for these new, exciting eateries, so if you’re staying with us in any of our 10 locations you’ll have plenty to choose from. Check out our guide to the best vegan spots in London if you’re in need of some inspiration.
Now, we’re not saying to stop eating meat or dairy completely (it’s not a competition) but cutting down your consumption whilst you’re holidaying can make you a more sustainable traveller and save you money. It’s a no brainer!
Stay In A Shared Space
Not many people realise that hotel rooms are bad for the environment - but they can emit between 5 and 15 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Individual laundry, water, electricity and air conditioning mean that each room has a disproportionately negative impact on the planet. Hostels and other shared accommodation options use less energy per bed, so their impact on the planet is greatly reduced. There’s no surprise then that new research is now showing staying in a hostel is 75% less carbon intense than staying in a hotel room.
Our staff across Europe are doing their bit to become even more green, so if you do decide to stay with us you can get a sound sleep knowing that you’re travelling more sustainably. On top of sleeping with a clean conscience, relaxing, partying and socialising in shared spaces is the best way to meet new people whilst travelling!
Walk Or Cycle More
One of our favourite things about travelling is the opportunity to wind down in the daytime and forget rushing around. We reckon the best way to do this is on your own two feet…
Walking around a city gives a completely different perspective, allowing you time to take in new sights, sounds, architecture and history, and riding a bike can take you pretty much anywhere - sometimes more quickly than a car when the traffic’s bad. But that’s not even the best bit about using your foot pedals - it’s got practically no impact on the planet! Walking or cycling will make your trip better anyway, but it also helps you become a more sustainable traveller.
Top tip: Most big cities now have a multitude of ebike-rental options, like this one in London , so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own set of wheels on holiday with you.
Use Reusables To Avoid Waste
We all know about the impact plastic waste has on the environment - with an estimated 13 million tonnes of the stuff landing in our oceans each year - so this one’s a must-do if you want to be a more sustainable traveller.
Reusable water bottles, shampoo and shower gel containers, food tubs and toiletries are an absolute must for your trip, especially if you’re planning on a longer holiday! Refill and recycling shops are now popular in loads of Europe’s biggest cities, and can save you a fair amount of wonga if you decide to use them. It’s another no-brainer that’s going to make your trip greener.
Top tip: Nearly all drinking water around Europe’s big cities is now potable and perfectly safe to drink, so there’s no excuse to be wasting money on plastic bottles (just make sure to check on the local government website before downing litres of the stuff).
Use Less Water
Disclaimer: please don’t use this as an excuse not to shower. No one wants that. But by taking shorter showers and turning off taps when we’re not using them, you can save huge amounts of energy. A regular shower gets through around 10 gallons of water over a 5-minute period - enough to fill 45 litre bottles. Our hostels have timed push buttons in the showers and sinks to stop water wastage, but if you do see a tap running anywhere on your travels, be a doll and turn it off for extra brownie points…
Top tip: If you’re travelling for a longer period of time, you’re probably going to become quite accustomed to the local laundrettes. A lot of these services are now switching to more sustainable models, with less water wastage and less micro-plastics released from the machines. Check out Oxwash in London for a neat solution.
Go Thrift Shopping
The fast fashion industry is notoriously bad for the environment, and is actually responsible for around 10% of all global pollution. Buying your garms second hand is an amazing way to be a more sustainable traveller, because it increases the life cycle of clothing products whilst removing the need for new ones to be produced.
As well as being a really easy way to halt climate change, there’s no better feeling than grabbing yourself a bargain in a charity shop or at the local market. Fashonistas heading to Berlin - make sure to check out the best flea markets in the German capital before you set off.
Well, there you have it - a guide to becoming a more sustainable traveller. Our most important tip is to remember that nobody is perfect when it comes to sustainability, but if we all make small changes we can make a big difference together.