It’s that time of year again! Yes, the holiday season is upon us, but, it’s more than just festive tidings and family get-togethers. In the coming months, many of us will plan to take a vacation to beachside resorts or alpine wonderlands in search of rest, relaxation and fun. But while we enjoy our new surroundings we might not realize the environmental consciousness we so carefully craft at home is thrown to the wind the moment we board the plane.
Environmental costs to travel
It’s not a big surprise that air travel has been increasing over the last decade. With its accessibility and efficiency, it’s usually the preferred mode of transportation. As air traffic has steadily increased so has the environmental consequences.
Travelling by air is the single largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions per person compared to all other transportation methods, including shipping freights that travel around the world. As more people choose to travel by air, the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is only going to exacerbate climate change and climate-related phenomenon. Additionally, improvements in air transportation and technology are not likely to be coming anytime soon as the industry needs increased funding and time to be able to test new methods and technology. So, how can one travel but still preserve their environmental values?
Easy ways to green your travel plans
Some options for greening your travel plans could include the following:
Vacation closer to home – Renting a nearby hotel room or B&B may give you the space you need to feel more relaxed. Knowing you don’t have to do housework or make a bed can do wonders.
Fly to one destination and then use alternative transportation for the rest of the trip – Seeing the local area by train or renting a car can enhance the experience and expand your opportunity to build memories. As an added bonus, you don’t have to worry about lost luggage.
Fly as direct as possible – Take-offs and landings are the most fuel intensive part of flying.
Fly during the daytime – Studies have shown that flying at night has a greater impact on the climate.
Buy carbon offsets.
While this list is by no means extensive and you may have already integrated some or most of these options into your travel plans already, you may be looking for something a little more environmentally oriented or off the beaten path.
Websites like Airbnb have expanded options for those wanting an experience outside of your standard cookie-cutter hotel room. While most of Airbnb’s listings are for your more typical apartment or house for rent, there are a few unique opportunities for anyone interested in greening their vacation.
If you’ve thought about buying a passive house but you’re still unsure, you could test one out on your next vacation. Places like Portland, Oregon; Shrewsbury, United Kingdom; and Victoria, Australia all offer opportunities to live in a passive house for several nights or longer. This would be a great chance to see if passive house living is something that you would want to invest in, now or in the future.
For only $128 a night, you could stay in the O2Hous, a net-zero–passive house, in Portland, Oregon. Considered one of the most energy-efficient homes in the United States, it was also ranked as one of “the 7 best Airbnb rentals in Portland, Oregon” by Travel+Leisure magazine.
If your travel plans take you abroad, a converted newsagents shop known as the “the beehive” in Shrewsbury, United Kingdom, or a passive house in the The Otways in Victoria, Australia are also options for city-dwellers and countryside lovers respectively.
Considering downsizing to a smaller house but worried it might not be right for you? Try decreasing your space requirements on your next vacation and book a tiny house. Many other Portland-based rentals are also tiny houses, offering unique options for your overnight stays.
Both the tiny house on a tiny volcano and the rustic modern tiny house have excellent reviews from over 70+ people and both are located in interesting neighbourhoods. Even better, the cost for these rentals are similar if not less expensive than booking a regular hotel room.
A new way to travel
Travelling is an excellent way to relax and to experience new things. But travelling also has a serious carbon impact. Instead of cancelling your travel plans or only sticking close to home, expand your search for alternative vacation hotspots that allow you to live green while on vacation. Now, more than ever before, the options are out there for those wanting to travel green.[box]by Maggie O’Brien[/box]
image: Neil Howard (Creative Commons BY-NC)