I am a Climate Change Activist and promoter of women and travel. I have had to do some thinking of whether these two things are a contradiction. In this article I begin a reflection on how (and if) I can hold these two passions together as I explore climate friendlier ways to travel. Would love your feedback
The bottom line for me is that travel can no longer be about ticking off countries to visit. Travel now must be adaptive to the realities and challenges of climate change.
- Travelling deeper and spending longer in places
- Connecting with locals and supporting local economies
- Visiting family and friends
1. Travel Domestically
- Have you seen your own country?
- Have you explored your own city and environs?
- Are there cultures around you that you do not engage with?
- Have you volunteered locally?
We often travel to widen our horizons, but often we do not see what is in front of us or around us. Travelling locally is a way of exploring without a large carbon footprint. Have you caught the bus or train to the end of the line? Volunteered for a year at a homeless shelter? Made music in an old folks home?
2. Go somewhere Overseas and Stay a While
Young New Zealanders often go on an extended OE (Overseas Experience) where they live and work for a year or two in Europe.
More and more older folk are doing the same – house sitting in Italy, helping out on an organic farm in France, or spending the NZ winter in Asia living as a local.
Get to know where you are going before you get there. Read novels and books that tell you some of story of that place. Learn enough of the local language to greet people respectfully and say thank you.
All of this lessons your carbon footprint, and enables you to live like a local and explore the local area (see the first point!)
3. Stay as local as you can: Support Local Economies
Avoid hotel chains where profits and liable to go offshore, and where workers are paid minimum wages. Try local guest houses or BnB.
Stay with Local Women – join the new Wanderful Homesharing network as a traveller or as a hostess.
3. Use Local Guides and Travel Companies
WomenTravel has a list of local women guides in places around the world. People who know their city and can help you see beyond the normal tourist haunts. Did you know there is a woman gondolier in Venice? She is on that list.
There are some wonderful Womens Travel Companies who can organise a trip for you to their country – see them here
and… Eat Local Food
Look where the locals are eating, expand your taste buds by trying something new to eat or drink. Support the local family enterprises.
5. Alternatives to flying
Let’s face it does anyone enjoy flying cattle class anymore? And when you factor in the journey to the airport and who early you need to be there, sometimes it is not much longer.
Why not try another way to travel?
- Catching a train – savour the slow travel and enjoy the passing landscapes. I had a fabulous trip on Amtrak around the USA
- A freighter journey
- Join a sailing crew
- Go Overland – take local buses and trains – I had one friend who started in China and went overland back to the UK.
- Cycling and Walking – more and more folk are setting out for journeys of hundreds or thousands of kilometers by foot or cycle
Finally if you are thinking a Cruise Ship is the way to go – this is NOT a climate friendly decision, or ocean friendly because of their waste.
On a typical one-week voyage a cruise ship generates more than 50 tonnes of garbage and a million tonnes of grey (waste) water, 210,000 gallons of sewage and 35,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water. Some of this is pumped into ocean and some treated….
Travelling to New York and back on the QEII, in other words, uses almost 7.6 times as much carbon as making the same journey by plane.”From Guardian article here