2020 is the year to travel more environmentally friendly.
Follow our 6 travel tips to minimize your climate footprint on your next vacation.
Never before have we traveled so much across national borders as we do today. The usual 'south' such as Gran Canaria or Greece has for many been replaced by more 'exotic' destinations such as Vietnam and Cuba. But this often means longer itineraries, and specifically longer flights.
At the same time, climate change is more real than ever before and the need to live more environmentally friendly is urgent. One of the major evils of climate change and global warming is carbon emissions, where flights account for a significant sum. A flight to Cuba, for example, produces three times as much carbon emissions as a trip to Greece, and makes up more than 2.2 tonnes. The average annual discharge per person worldwide is around 4 tonnes.
Many will believe that one goes at the expense of the other, that one must either stop traveling or stop being environmentally friendly. This does not have to be the scenario, and there are several ways to ensure that you travel more environmentally friendly.
Because many of our customers love to travel, and often store their things in our warehouses while they rents out the apartment on Airbnb or in our Manhattan Lockers for shorter trips, we have gathered some good tips on how you can travel more sustainably.
1. Choose your holiday destination carefully
Before you decide on your next trip or your next adventure, think about how you can get there. What will your carbon emissions look like? For example, have you considered being a tourist in your own country and perhaps taking the fantastic Flåmsbana?
Investigate how environmentally friendly the place you are going to travel to and the places you want to live are. Is it sorted at the hotel and is it environmentally certified? Do the country or area you are going to use for resources on sustainable development and is it easy as a tourist to choose environmentally friendly alternatives to food and transport?
Think about the time of year you want to travel, and whether this is 'off-peak' or in the middle of the tourist season. Overtourism has been documented to do great damage to nature, wildlife and sometimes the infrastructure of cities. It is therefore worth considering whether you can travel outside of the busiest times.
Feel free to choose a place you can explore on foot or by bike once you have arrived. Many people say that it is more valuable to travel to a place where you can stay for a longer period, and get to know the locals and the culture properly. The longer you stay in one place can also mean saving money, and therefore a longer holiday!
Select train and bus over aircraft
Nowadays, heavy air traffic is one of the biggest environmental evils. As we have mentioned above, a return trip to Cuba can exceed the annual average emissions worldwide. Norway is at the very top when it comes to annual flights per capita, and is in fact the fifth worst country in Europe with an average of 0.24 flights per person per year.
Therefore, one of the best choices you can make to travel more environmentally friendly is to take a train or bus instead of flying. Although it takes longer, a train journey also means that you can experience so much on the road.
If you have already decided on a long itinerary, then you can get rid of some fly ash by planting a tree or paying for carbon quotas with Carbonfund. As Norway has such high private carbon emissions per person, any choice to avoid flights or pay carbon quotas can make a difference.
Buy and eat short-distance food while traveling
Regardless of whether you are in a big city or a small village - always try to buy short-distance food. This is how you support the local population at the same time as it is much more sustainable than choosing something that is imported from afar. When you first visit a new place, it is always exciting to try out the local cuisine with seasonal ingredients.
This also applies to souvenirs. Make sure the rug, painting or jewelry is actually local products produced by local artists. In this way, you contribute to the economy where you are, instead of giving your money to companies that may be exploiting the culture and tradition of others.
4. Reduce littering with recycled equipment
Bring a coffee cup, straw and water bottles that can be washed and used up again. This is how you reduce your own littering and avoid excessive use of cardboard and plastic. Another tip is to bring your own travel towel, which dries quickly and takes up little space in the backpack.
When you are going to pack and notice that there is something you are missing, you can always ask friends or family if they can lend something instead of buying a new one. If they have their things in a warehouse at Flexistore, they can easily share the digital key via email or phone.
5. Limit the use of electricity and water
Always familiarize yourself with local consumption habits when traveling to a new place, and find out how you can minimize the use of electricity and water. Some places may have water restrictions, and then it is important to stay within these limits.
Several cities and countries with drought challenges see that tourism often becomes a problem because the state can not have a full overview of their consumption. So make sure you read up on Ministry of Foreign Affairs' travel advice before boarding the train or plane.
6. Learn from those you meet - and take that lesson home
Norway is one of the largest consumer countries in the world, and this is especially because we can afford it. Not all countries are as rich or privileged as Norway, and we can therefore learn a lot from other people who live in countries with reduced access to water, electricity, travel and other benefits.
One of the most valuable things we take home after a trip is the conversations and experiences we have had from meeting new people. This lesson we learn from others we can take home and share with our neighbor, colleague or friend who may not travel as often.
It is important to remember that we all make a difference when it comes to climate change and carbon emissions, and a lot can be saved when it comes to travel habits. Make 2020 the year you travel more sustainably.