I flick through travel blogs everyday looking for my next adventure, my next opportunity to escape this cage. Yet it worries me, the impact I am having on this earth.
My selfish pursuit of instant gratification — the smells of a Moroccan spice market or the sound of freshly fallen snow, from Toronto to Marrakesh, Tokyo and Uluru — at roughly 0.85 kilograms of CO2 per kilometer, is my largest contribution of emissions to society. It sickens me to think about how much energy is wasted, how much carbon is release into the atmosphere for one single flight just so I can spend the week in a distant land.
(Related Traveler Article: As the World Sinks)
Yet the guilt I feel will forever be secondary to the joy that travelling brings me. Even though I am fully aware of the consequences of my actions I will continue to follow my dreams until the last plane has landed.
A dire predicament indeed, however, as I am not the sort of person to simply ignore my actions and pretend the world will be a better place tomorrow. I have begun to contemplate alternatives, not only for long distance travel but also for fun within our own environments as well.
I have a plan. Each year I like to do something big, something extraordinary that I can talk about long after the event itself has past and this year it will be my most marvelous yet with minimal emissions.
It is with this that I begin my proposal to embark upon a long-distance, minimal emissions tour of my home country. Now travelling around Cornwall would, in itself, be an interesting experience. However, I have something a little more ambitious planned: a full trip of the entire length of the mainland Britain. Now, Britain isn’t particularly a very large country and by conventional means the trip itself would only take roughly 23 hours split across multiple days, but the whole idea of this trip is it keep it as low emissions as possible and short of walking all the way there (a feat undertaken by a number each year) I will have to find alternative transport.
First a Little Bit of History
I was born to a less than conventional family; although perfectly ordinary on first introduction it is not long until our little secret is revealed, tucked away but still very much alive. Over a thousand years of history on the road, living as merchants, artists, and acrobats, my people emerged from the Indian subcontinent and have, in some formed or another, settled all of the habitable continents.
Although different modes of transport have been used, the most iconic of all would have to be the vardo, the brightly colored horse-drawn wagon as used by British Roma or Romnichals during the 19th century.
My family have owned a number of these wagons over the last two decades and the one currently in our possession is in dire of some tender loving care, but I feel that with some attention it will be more that suitable. I still have a lot of planning to do, but I am sure that by the time the weather starts cheering up I will be ready to embark upon my most environmentally friendly holiday yet.
Interested in Alternative Travel but Not Sure What You Can Do?
Keeping in mind that not everyone has the time or background to take month out to travel the country at one-horse speed, I have thought of some other ways that we have to reduce our energy usage and emissions on holiday.
- Consider a local vacation – look into things to do and see in your own state or country
- Short Haul? Travel by bus or rail – 1000 kilometers (621 miles) by rail produces on average 60 kilograms of CO2, and coach just 30 kilograms, compared to the average short-haul flight, which produces around 600 kilograms of CO2.
- Take a holiday for longer, reducing your relax/travel ratio
- Don’t be scared to take advantage of in-country public transport – sites such as Seat 61 have had made understanding and booking foreign trains so much easier. I once travelled overland from Bangkok to Hanoi using the information available online.
- Ever considered a walking or cycling holiday?
- Have you considered the carbon rating of the hotel or resort you will be staying at? Ethical resorts like to flaunt their carbon credentials, but if you are unsure, perhaps reconsider your five-star resort in a drought-stricken area.
This is just a selection of ways you can reduce your energy usage. If you have any suggestions to add, I would be more than happy to hear them.