Taking the “Extra Mile” While Travelling: Travel Clean
Travel feeds and rejuvenates the soul. Seeing the world with our own eyes leave a feeling of appreciation and belonging. It’s often a reminder that we belong to this world and that we are alive because we have a planet that sustains us.
Adventure holidays are exhilarating, and we are constantly in awe of the spectacular beauty of our planet. But when we weigh the environmental impact of our trips, suddenly adventure holidays aren’t as exhilarating, and our excitement to discover the world wanes.
Don’t let this happen. Travel is essential to our existence, it’s often an immersive experience that provides depth of perspective. Plus, it’s required in our global world.
Benefits of Travel
Travel is good for our well-being. To stress this point, below are some clear benefits of travel:
Psychological benefit: Travel is a great stress buster, according to author and psychologist, Dr. Tamara Greenberg. Taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle is essential for your mind to relax and recharge.
Physical benefit: Traveling is exercise for both mind and body. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies show cognitive benefits of going to museums or temples are comparable mental exercises like crossword puzzles. Research also shows that men who don’t take annual vacations have 20% higher risk of death. Depending on your destination, the physical exercise you get from walking and climbing is equivalent to taking 15-minute walks every day for a year.
Economic benefit: Travel generates income and jobs for people in the travel and transportation industry which helps drive a country’s economy. This is why governments invest a lot in tourism – it’s a lucrative business.
Social benefit: Getting to know complete strangers, trying new cuisine and speaking different languages are some of the social skills we develop while traveling. This in turn is translated to a better understanding amongst people.
Environmental benefit: Environmental awareness often starts by getting outside, spending time in nature, and seeing how the world’s ecology is rapidly deteriorating on our watch. Ecological tourism, the kind of tourism that leads to greater awareness about the climate crisis and encourages people to take up climate action.
Irresponsible travel is the real culprit here. We are living during a real climate and ecological shift and travelling without care or concern is leaving the world imperilled.
Sustainable travel means you are travelling but the carbon footprint you create is kept in check. Your travel carbon footprint is the sum of carbon and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere when you travel. Research reveals that a large percentage of your vacation’s carbon footprint is from flying because airplanes run on fossil fuels. Knowing this, the big question is, do you now have to stop travelling?
No, you don’t. While fuel emissions from airplanes are indeed a major pollutant, there are ways to travel clean. Here are some ways to keep your carbon footprint at minimum while you travel:
1) Patronize sustainable tourism. There are tour offices that will make sure you have fun travelling in a way that will not pollute the environment. Some packages even use CO2 calculators while on tour to make sure you meet your target carbon footprint. Check out Leed housing for where to stay when abroad.
2) Plan well. Focus on researching and planning the entire trip well so that you don’t fly over short distances. You might find that slow travel is rewarding in more than one sense. Not only are you living sustainably, you also see more of the country by taking a train or a bus.
3) Carbon offset. When you have to fly research the airline to see if they have a carbon offsetting scheme. Try to stick to economy, where carbon emissions are split between more individuals. Make sure any scheme you choose is vetted and has the most direct impact possible.
Travelling the world gives you a sort of cultural currency. It’s a wonderful way to learn history, culture, language, and different perspectives. Travelling clean is the best option going forward.
There are movements around the world that advocate for sustainable tourism, such as cleantravel.com, passionpassport.com and carbonfootprint.com. Some of these groups are pushing for “no travel” calls, which discourage people from travelling by plane.
This movement hails from Europe, in Sweden they call it “flygskam” which translates to flight shame. Most European countries can be toured using other methods of transport, like trains and cars. However, this is difficult in other countries, like the United States. Plus, it overlooks mitigating circumstances, what if your family lives around the world? Or you have to fly for your job?
Recently Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old climate activist, sailed to the United States for UN Climate Action Summit. Thunberg made this journey on a zero-carbon yacht to take a stance against flying and symbolize that individuals must take action.
Next time you book a flight keep in mind the impact you travel has on the environment. You’re the only one who can control how much carbon footprint you save or generate. The next big step is the extra mile that clean travel offers.
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