Image credit: KeenTraveler
Recession or no recession, the summer is on its way. And for many of us, summer still means travel. Whether by road, rail, air or sea, we still feel the urge to get away from our day-to-day and see new horizons. But short of biking and walking, whatever travel mode we choose is likely to mean emissions - and plenty of them. So what are we TreeHuggers supposed to do when we need a break? Luckily there is plenty we can do to reduce our emissions, even when we fly. Here are a few ways to cut your impact without sacrificing your journey.
Image credit: Me
Train, Plane or Automobile: Choose Wisely
The first and most obvious thing you can do to cut your carbon is to choose your destination, and mode of transportation, wisely. It's fairly clear, for example, that the closer to home you vacation, the greener the trip is going to be - with the Staycation being the ultimate in terms of no-carbon travel.
But once you choose your destination, picking how you get there is at least as important. The train between London and Paris emits 90% less CO2 compared to a similar flight - and Eurostar, the operator, is making great strides to reduce that further. And over shorter distances, even taking the car can be a significant improvement over flying, if measured in terms of emissions per passenger mile. Of course, it can be tempting to argue that the plane will fly anyway, whereas driving always means an extra journey - but in a world of supply and demand, fewer passengers soon adds up to fewer flights.
And don't discount the more extreme ends of low carbon travel - after all, we've seen folks circumventing the globe on electric bikes, and a 'Freeconomy' pilgrim walking from England to India. In fact, with a sense of adventure and a little determination, choosing to travel low carbon may be the most exciting thing you ever do.
Image credit: Infranet Lab
But what if flying is your only option? Fear not - you can still make choices to reduce the impact of your journey. After all, take off and landing are by far the most polluting segments of a flight, requiring much more energy than when an airplane is actually in the air . So simply by flying direct you can cut emissions dramatically - not to mention the fact that you'll be covering far fewer miles in the process too. And for once, there is zero sacrifice involved - unless of course you look forward to hanging out in Chicago O'Hare for 4 hours...
Image credit: JohnnyJet
Treading lightly isn't just a metaphor when it comes to greener travel. Whether traveling by air, land or sea, it's a simple fact that the less weight you carry, the less fuel you'll burn. It's a big reason why some airlines have started charging for checked baggage, and why others are going to crazy lengths to shed weight from their aircraft.