Green travel is not an easy prospect; the fact that you are travelling means by definition that you are causing damage to the planet. Travelling on planes, by car or on a boat pollutes the atmosphere; grabbing a taxi at the airport in some distant city has its effects.
Getting the balance right
The alternative is to take bicycle holidays direct from home and sleep in a tent – idyllic for many people, but for others not quite the equivalent to hitting Ibiza’s nighttime hotspots.
Therein lies the dilemma: If your idea of holiday heaven is not afternoon picnics in your local park, your holiday plans will involve travel; travel involves polluting the atmosphere and using up the world’s natural resources.
Balanced somewhere between these different approaches, many people are now far more aware of the effects of their two-week annual escape to the sun on the planet and the worldwide environment.
Searching for the greener solution
Many people are searching for a greener solution, but one that does not mean missing out on all the fun. People are looking into ways to reduce the impact their holiday has on the world, as at the moment it seems impractical to have a totally green holiday – especially if it involves travel and a restricted amount of time.
Long-distance travel creates carbon dioxide and other nasty atmosphere-threatening gases, and holiday jets are amongst the world’s worst pollution machines. However, a three-week holiday in exotic Thailand would practicable impossible if you were to take a green transport system that takes five months to get there.
Reducing your individual carbon footprint
There is the alternative of selecting airlines with the latest, more fuel-efficient jets; this reduces your individual carbon footprint. But in the end, this is not a green transport mode. You could offset your carbon footprint by joining one of the schemes that “pays back” what you “spent” in terms of emissions by planting trees in an equivalent amount to the carbon footprint of your flight.
Once you arrive at your destination, your options for a green holiday open up tremendously. You have many options that will allow you to have a holiday that is more earth friendly. In many countries, locally owned eating establishments use locally grown food and make little or no use of pre-packaged foodstuffs, so you may want to select those over international food chains.
Finding green hotels
There are now many green hotels springing up across the world that for example are committed to saving water and power. You may also find that locally owned establishments will follow similar strategies out of necessity, to enable them to be competitive.
Getting around green
You can opt to use local public transport instead of hiring a car or taking taxis. This will save you money, help the planet and very often make for some of the most interesting experiences of your trip. When enjoying activities, for example at the beach, choose windsurfing over hiring a jet ski, most of which run on heavily polluting two-stroke engines.
The same is true of hiring scooters in many countries; consider renting a bicycle in place of a polluting scooter. Most countries now offer eco-friendly tours designed to avoid the damage to the environment that was the reason people visit those locations in the first place.
Most local tourism offices or national tourism boards are happy to assist with information on companies that offer green trips and excursions.
Be responsible when travelling
But green travel is not only where you stay or eat; being responsible while on holiday is simple and should not be an inconvenience. Picking up your own rubbish when leaving the beach, sticking to marked hiking trails and avoiding heavily polluting transport are simple and effective ways of being as green as possible while still enjoying your holiday.
The main aim is to do what you can to lessen your impact when travelling. If there are too many restrictions on what and what not to do, your holiday may become a stressful experience which defeats the point of a holiday in the first place! If you start with small changes, these will gradually become second nature and you may find that the greener options are actually more enjoyable. Saving water is often so simple, even when travelling; in water scarce countries like South Africa, your efforts to save water will lesson your impact. If you are travelling to South Africa for any of the FIFA 2010 World Cup Football matches (expected to generate 8 times more carbon emissions than Germany’s 2006 tournament) please try to travel green and stay in eco-friendly hotels.