“Can I still fly?” 5 tips for a great holiday with a smaller footprint

The tourism industry is the fastest growing sector globally. People are travelling more than ever and cover longer distances as they do so. There are around 20.000 planes in use around the world today, yearly transporting three billion (!) passengers. By 2040, this number will probably have increased to 50.000 planes in service, which are also expected to fly more often.

There’s no way around the fact that airplanes have a remarkably large carbon footprint, which makes them bad news for the environment. Whenever you’re flying, you’re adding a significant amount of planet-warming gases to the atmosphere and leaving a negative ecological footprint. Now that the number of airplane passengers is growing so fast, the aviation industry has become a heated issue in the climate change debate.

Luckily, more and more people become aware of this pressing problem, which makes them take more conscious decisions to protect the planet. In this article, I’ll tell you how you can too.

Can I still fly?” 5 tips for a great holiday with a smaller footprint

What can you do?

Flying has its downsides, but this doesn’t mean you have to stop travelling! Aside the ecological footprint, you also leave a social and economic footprint when you get in touch with foreign local communities and when you use their local services. With these footprints, you can make a positive impact and give meaning to your holiday at the same time.

In order to decrease your ecological footprint without compromising a great holiday, I came up with a list of tips to help you make your next trip more sustainable. Below, I’ll talk you through them one by one.

1. Stay closer to home

You don’t have to sit in an airplane for over ten hours to discover beautiful places. Us Europeans can reach the most diverse destinations within a three-hour flight! Think of the castles in Scotland, the geysers in Iceland, stunning coastlines in Portugal and blue waterfalls in Croatia! Not only will your flight’s CO2 emission be much lower, you’ll also have a shorter travel time and no jetlag! How good is that?

2. Choose sustainable transport modes

When travelling short distances, take a look at sustainable alternatives. Instead of taking the plane, you can also choose going by train, bus or car. These modes of transport have much less CO2 emission and they come with more advantages than you might think! Not only will you avoid the hassle of airports and long waits, train and bus seats are often more comfortable, and you’ll see more of the country. The same applies to local excursions; it’s more fun to cycle than to take a car transfer.

3. Compensate your flight

By taking a flight, you’re causing damage to the environment. By compensating your flight, you make sure that greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere don’t increase. Organisations such as GreenSeat and MyClimate offset your emissions by investing in projects that avoid and reduce carbon emission in developing countries such as windmills, biogas and cookstoves. You can calculate your emissions online and compensate them directly to create benefits for local communities and the environment. There are also airlines where you can offset the flight emission during booking, such as KLM, Delta, British Airways, Qantas and Emirates.

Can I still fly?” 5 tips for a great holiday with a smaller footprint

4. Take direct flights

Did you know around 25% of airplane emissions comes from taking off and landing? According to a report of NASA the largest source of emissions in the landing-take-off cycle is the taxiing. So, the more often you take off, the more fuel you use, meaning that flying nonstop is better for the environment. Besides, it’s also much more comfortable and faster to only take one flight without long layovers.

5. Go far, stay longer

Obviously, flying to a faraway destination once a year is more environmentally friendly than doing this twice a year. Therefore, the best environmental decision is to save up your holiday days and stay longer! Don’t fly to the other side of the world for just one week but stay for at least three or four weeks. This way, you’ll also have time to really get to know the country by going off the beaten tracks and have a chance of making an impact by leaving a positive social and economic footprint.

What measures are you willing to take to protect the environment and which destinations close to home did you add to your bucket list? Let me know on Facebook!

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