Eurostar did some research recently, and found that passengers flying between London, Paris, and Brussels generate 10 times more CO2 emissions than those travelling by train. Yet still, even with all the data that surrounds us, all the green initiatives going on at the moment, and all the education on greenhouse gases (which air travel contributes a huge amount to), we are still opting to fly instead of choosing other, more eco-friendly methods. The reason for this, I believe, is down to three factors – money, time, and convenience.
All too often the people who promote green or eco-friendly travel quote the figures and forget that in general, most people need more than just an eco-benefit to motivate them to travel green. After all, if it’s much cheaper and quicker to travel by air, then why are people going to choose otherwise? There are, however, more benefits to travelling green that just a curb on your carbon footprint.
1. The journey
Air travel has lost that adventurous spirit that it once had. As soon as you leave the door you should feel happy, excited, and on the road to discovery. As soon as you hit the airport though, most people feel stressed, strained, and pestered by the never-ending queues and excess charges that seem to be the norm on budget airlines these days. Everything is filled with procedures, from security to safety on board.
That feeling of freedom from a flight of a jet plane is long gone, but you can still experience that long-lost feeling of adventure through long-distance rail travel, car journeys, or other modes of transport. There are some amazing scenic rail journeys dotted throughout the world, such as the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Australian. You have more freedom to stop off when you want, there are no restrictions to when you can and can’t get up from your seat, and you have stunning scenery the entire journey long.
2. See more of the world
Why just go to one city or one country when you can see ten, fifteen, or more? Travel slow. Hire a car with some friends and drive through Europe, NZ, the States, or Oz. Take a tip from Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and motorbike your way around the world! You miss out so much by simply location-hopping on a plane. Take the chance to see many more sides of a country, rather than just the tourist-packed destinations. You really get so much more of a feel for life as a local by mixing with them in all the little towns and villages along the way.
3. It can actually be cheaper, quicker, and more convenient!
It’s particularly true for shorter distances, but alternatives to flying in general can actually be cheaper than a flight, even in the day and age of budget airlines. When you take into account taxes, baggage charges, the cost of in-flight meals or snacks, and the actual cost of the ticket, it all adds up. Coach travel, for example, although possibly not as comfortable as a flight, can be much cheaper. Even rail travel can be cheaper if booked well enough in advance.
You also find that with domestic flights (particularly in European countries) it can actually be quicker to travel by train than flying. For instance, a trip between Edinburgh and London by train takes four and a half hours. A flight takes two. However, when you consider that it takes about an hour to check in, and hour to check out with all your luggage, and the time it takes to get from the airport to the city centre, it’s just as quick if not quicker getting a train right from Edinburgh city centre right into the heart of London!
Travelling more eco-friendly can help to tackle global warming, curb your carbon footprint, and be very rewarding all at the same time, but the benefits to altering your methods of travel to be greener can offer you even more than that. Eco-friendly travel can provide an opportunity to see more of the world, educate yourself, and have an experience that you’ll remember for years to come.