It’s no secret that travel is a big contributor to global warming. And whilst holidays, ironically, aren’t going anywhere and the need to escape the daily grind is arguably bigger than ever, there are still ways we can reduce our impact on the environment when we go away.
From carefully considering your destination to looking after the local community once you get there, it’s important that we all take it upon us to help out in whatever way we can. So here are some great tips for enjoying an eco-friendly city break.
Choose A Green City
Step one to enjoy a green city break is to choose a destination that is leading the way in protecting the environment. Whilst some places are taking their time to come around to the idea, others have forged a route to a greener lifestyle by setting themselves ambitious targets and adopted strict measures. Holidaying in one of these cities effectively shows your support for actions like this and should encourage others to follow suit.
There are many great, green European city breaks to be had, with Scandinavian destinations at the forefront of this. Oslo and Reykjavik have both harnessed the power of renewable energy, whilst Copenhagen’s cycle initiatives were a major part of the Danish capital earning the title of European Green Capital in 2014. Other cities keen on being green include Vienna, Bern, Amsterdam and Helsinki.
Select Your Airline Carefully (Or Take The Train)
We’re well aware that the idea of flying in an environmentally way is a bit counterintuitive, but just because you’re stepping on a plane, doesn’t mean you can’t make some little changes to ensure this way of travelling is slightly better for the environment than it could be. Things to think about include how new the aircraft fleet is (newer planes use fuel better and have better air quality), action taken on board to reduce single-use items and any other initiatives to off-set the carbon footprint of a flight.
Norwegian Air and Finnair both rank well for using newer aircraft, United Airlines have been using biofuel to power their engines since 2015 and Air France has committed to replacing single-use plastics with items made from bio-based materials. Even budget carriers like Ryanair and easyJet can be considered as a more eco-friendly option than most. Rather unintentionally, they tick plenty of green boxes for the fact that their planes are usually full, they are very tight on fuel usage and have strict policies for luggage weight.
Of course, you don’t have to get on a plane at all to enjoy a sustainable city break. Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency show that train travel uses around 50% less fuel per passenger and is more environmentally friendly, especially on short-haul trips like European city breaks.
Use The Power Of Your Legs
It’s not just how you get to your destination that matters, it’s also how you get around once you’re there. The great thing about many European cities is that it’s easy to explore on foot. Their relatively small size means you can get from one area to another quickly and you have the added benefit of being able to stumble across some hidden gems.
For those large destinations, consider any cycling schemes that are available. Most capital cities will have some sort of bicycle rental system in place and the locations mentioned as being green above are great at offering affordable prices and safe cycle lanes to tourists.
Enjoy Some Green Activities
As protecting the environment is becoming much more of an important thing, companies across Europe are setting up volunteer activities that help to counteract some of the damage already done. Of course, you don’t always have time to do something like this during your holiday and the priority is often to see as much as possible in the little time you have, but taking part in one of these projects is a great way to give something back.
A great example of this is to join a beach clean-up. Id a destination has a beach you can be almost certain that there is some sort of beach clean-up scheme in place that you can help with. Amsterdam has recently started offering plastic fishing as an activity for tourists. This involves touring the many canals with a fishing net in handing, scooping out plastic bottles and other items from the water.
Ecotourism is most closely associated with places like Thailand, Costa Rica and Indonesia, but Europe has some great options too. Even visiting a local nature reserve and learning how the natural environment is being looked after is a great way to promote sustainable values.
Take Care Of The Little Things
For some people, the idea of doing little things to help the environment seems pointless when there are so many bigger causes to tackle. However, you can definitely make some difference by being responsible with your actions and if everyone had this point of view then nothing would ever change.
These small things don’t have to impact on your experience at all and take very little effort. It starts with choosing the best transport option from the airport (bus or train rather than taxi) and extends to things like reusing your towels in the hotel, ensuring you recycle your waste in the appropriate bins, opting to dine in sustainably sourced restaurants and even carrying drinks bottles around with you so that you don’t have to buy another one every time you need some water. There are so many of these little actions you can take and all will have an impact on the environment, however minor you think it is.
If you are interested in visiting any of the cities we have mentioned, we can tailor-make a trip that includes everything that’s important to you. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or sign up to our mailing list to receive deals and news straight to your inbox.