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How to Travel Eco-Friendly and Have Fun at the Same Time?

Travelling from place to place is part of every travel. Big advertising boards and newsletters offer many possibilities with special offers for getting from one part of the world to the other, but ultimately the choice is ours. We are the ones to decide whether to rush through the landscape or take more time to enjoy the scenery. We need to realise that the choice of transport directly affects the world in which we live because different kinds of transport impact the world differently.


Let’s start by comparing petrol consumption. With four litres of petrol, 190 people can be transported by train, 187 by bus, 113 by car, and 54 by airplane. It’s clear from the above that taking a train or a bus is the most eco-friendly way of travel and these types of transport also produce less emissions. A bus produces 13 times less C02 emissions than an airplane. A 45-minute flight is 10 times more harmful for the environment than a three-hour bus ride going in the same direction. A 152-kilometre bus ride produces 5 times less CO2 emissions than a car ride of the same length would. If you opt for train or bus travel you can also avoid long queues. Now, imagine what it would be like if even more people picked the same transportation as you – there would be one hundred cars less on the roads and subsequently no traffic congestions as well as fewer harmful emissions.

But before we introduce the modern bus and railway industry, let’s go back to airplanes. Air travel is considered to be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to tourism. The easiest way to understand the quantity of emissions airplanes are responsible for is to illustrate that by the following example.

The limit of CO2 emissions without harmful consequences for the environment is two tonnes. This value is easily exceeded by a transoceanic return flight. A flight to New Zealand, for example, produces more than five tonnes of emissions. And flights across Europe aren’t exactly harmless either: a flight to London produces 0.41 tonnes of CO2, a flight to Brussels or Paris produces 0.3 tonnes, a flight to Frankfurt produces 0.2 tonnes, and a flight to Belgrade produces 0.16 tonnes of CO2. Now you can imagine the damage suffered by our planet on a daily basis that is caused by daily transoceanic flights. Aircraft flying at an altitude contributes to higher percentage of NOx and ozone in the atmosphere, which also accelerates climate change. Air travel tourism is a fast-growing industry. The number of flights in Europe increased by 80% from 1990 to 2014.

Avoiding air travel is one of the most important personal strategies to combat climate change. But it would be impossible to imagine travelling to the other side of the world without flying, so it’s good to keep in mind at least a few of the following tips. Taking off and landing produce the highest amount of emissions, so it’s best to choose a direct flight whenever possible, even if it means paying extra. You can also choose an airline that produces fewer emissions. Atmosfair website has an index of airlines that are sorted by the quantity of their emissions. ClimateCare website lets you calculate the amount of emissions produced during your flight or car ride and then offset them by making a payment of the proportionate amount to organisations, such as those that plant new trees. It’s also good to use organised transfer when heading to the airport, not only because of more people driving in one car, but also because that way you won’t have to search for a space to park your car.

Another major polluter in the tourism industry is the cruise ship. Cruise ships produce the most greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre travelled. A day spent on a cruise ship results in the same amount of emissions as 18 days spent on land. Not to mention most cruises start with a flight to the port, raising the amount of emissions by 10–30%. Despite all this, cruise ships are still easier to avoid than airplanes.

Bus and railway infrastructure have already developed significantly. There are large bus companies that can transport you almost anywhere you want in the comfortable seats of their buses. As HI members you have an opportunity for low-cost bus travel, as Nomago offers you 15% off its InterCity service. InterCity takes you to 27 European cities in seven countries. And who’s not familiar with the green Flixbuses with over 350,000 routes linking 2000 European cities in more than 28 countries. And the buses are comfortable, at least until you pick a seat by the toilet. Flixbus’s particular feature is the carbon offset option that lets you buy CO2 compensation bus tickets, therefore offsetting CO2 emissions that resulted from your trip. The compensation amounts to 1–3% of the initial ticket price. This amount is then donated to environmental protection projects. In 2017, Flixbus invested money in providing energy efficient stoves in Rwanda, which require less wood, and in 2016, the company invested money in wind turbines on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Flixbus also operates in the USA, connecting 75 cities. But it’s just one of the large bus companies in the country. Boltbus is a low-cost bus company where at least one ticket for each trip costs one dollar, while other tickets are usually available for ten to twenty dollars if purchased on the company’s website. Tripper Bus is a bus tailored to customers’ needs, rewarding the loyalty of travellers by offering a free ticket for every eight purchased. No matter where in the world you are, travelling by bus is really a unique experience. The Chilean buses, speeding down the long country, are known for their high quality. They’re very comfortable and can hold luggage of all sizes. There are various price categories to choose from and some companies even offer free snacks. Among the best of these companies are Turbus and Pullman.

Tourist destinations often offer cheap or even free bus travel. Such practices are very common in Alpine regions where buses take you high up to mountain passes and through narrow valleys in an environment that’s particularly vulnerable. The purpose of these free bus rides is to reduce the impact of car traffic and subsequently of noise pollution as well as mass tourism. Throughout the whole South Tyrol, tourists can take advantage of Mobilcard that’s valid on all public buses, certain cable cars and on railway, and they can choose between one-day, three-day and seven-day cards. There are also special cards that you can use to combine public transport with bicycles or museums. On Renon Plateau, near Bolzano, every visitor who stays there for a longer period of time receives a card with unlimited use of the Renon cable car, access to museums, and public transport.

Travelling by train or bus is less stressful than travelling by car because you don’t have to look at the map all the time or listen to the navigation voice lady. During the ride you can freely chat over the phone, enjoy reading your favourite book or simply fall asleep, plus you’ll be doing something good for the environment as well.

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