If you’re reading this, then you’re probably familiar with the importance of sustainability and protecting the planet. If so, we hope this article can give you some additional ideas about being sustainable while travelling, particularly when you are city-hopping around Europe.
Or if this is all completely new to you and you’re just boarding the sustainability train, that’s great news! We hope that you enjoy reading the article and pick up lots of great tips and advice for staying sustainable when travelling.
To make things easier, this article has been broken down into 7 sections: booking your trip and accommodation, activities and transport, your belongings, eating out, shopping and providing support.
In 2020, the UK’s most-searched destination in Europe was London¹ (who doesn’t love a staycation, right?). Closely followed by Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin¹ (we promise this isn’t just a blog about staycations). In terms of European destinations, the 7 most-searched-for cities in Europe based on UK searches are Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Budapest, Venice and Prague¹. If you’re slightly surprised by some of these, the more typically-popular European destinations in terms of the number of Worldwide searches are*: Rome (9th), Barcelona (11th), Monaco (14th), Prague (21st) and Madrid (23rd).
Now that we’ve provided a bit of insight into which destinations people are searching for/travelling to, let’s get into the real purpose of this article, the best ways that you can be sustainable while city-hopping around Europe. Remember, no matter where you plan to go and if you plan to stay in and around Europe it’s always good practice to travel as sustainably as possible.
When booking your trip try to choose a tour operator that focuses on sustainable tourism. In addition to this, you can use eco-friendly booking sites when booking your accommodation and If you are using a travel agent, use a sustainable one. All of this can be researched in advance. When it comes to choosing your accommodation, try to avoid mainstream international hotels and instead opt for smaller, local hotels and hostels. If you do decide to stay in a hotel, choose one with policies around green tourism.
While you’re on holiday, why not take part in activities that are run by locals rather than big corporations. A quick Google will tell you that some of the most popular sustainable activities to do In Europe include; touring nature reserves and natural destinations, viewing wildlife, hiking or trekking, cycling, kayaking, ethical safari visits (be sure to check their policies prior to visiting) and volcano safaris.
Switching over to transport, we should all be mindful of our carbon footprint. You can always travel to European cities which are closer to home to reduce your carbon footprint. Europe also has a great rail network, so you can travel around without ever needing to get on a plane. Rather than using taxis, walk or bike when you can, this will allow you to take in the scenery as well (if it’s too far away, how about trying to get a bus?)
Other ways to get around sustainably include choosing hybrid/electric vehicles if you are staying for a while and decide to rent a car, flying with an airline that is putting investment into biofuels and avoiding mega cruises.
What you carry around and use while away might have more of impact than you think, especially when city-hopping. City-hopping can lead to increased reliance on disposable items, much more than at home, so preparing in advance will allow you to cut down on how much you rely on disposable items. Bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere that you go so that you can stay hydrated without buying any plastic water bottles (same with a reusable coffee cup). You can also bring a tote bag with you everywhere you go so that you don’t need to use plastic shopping bags. They’re good for the planet and more reliable.
Similarly, rather than bringing lots of books and taking up lots of space, download them all to a kindle, phone or other digital device. That way you have more books to choose from and more free space in your luggage. On the same matter of paper, travelling may sometimes require a map for finding each destination point. When using a map, opt for an app like Google Maps rather than using paper maps and wasting paper.
And last but not least, if you’re travelling somewhere with a hotter climate, when buying suncream make sure you check it is coral-safe, this means it does not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate – two UV-blocking chemicals that have been found to cause coral bleaching. It’s the little things that make a big difference!
We all like to treat ourselves to a little luxury while we’re on holiday, and organisations have started to make it easier for us to find more eco-friendly options that are just as good. From eating in local cafés to supporting the local economy and picking family run restaurants, rather than chains. If you want to take it a step further you can also pack your own snacks so you don’t have to buy individually wrapped items, eat locally sourced foods to reduce the number of shipping miles or even experiment with a vegetarian/vegan diet.
Much like dining, it’s also important to be conscious of where you shop. Shopping local, buying second hand, avoiding fast fashion and visiting local markets rather than using international supermarkets are all great ways to support the local economy. A good rule of thumb to follow is to always ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’ before buying. It might be that you already own something similar or can opt for an eco-friendlier version somewhere else. No matter what you decide, keep the planet in mind.
City-hopping is the perfect opportunity to look into sustainability projects that are taking place in the destinations you are visiting. If you’re just as passionate as we are about helping to look after the planet, why not get involved and volunteer in a beach clean-up, marine conservation, building/landscape reconstruction, reforestation or endangered animal projects.
Educating yourself about the location’s history and the issues they've faced in the past will also allow you to be empathetic and more inclined to respect local culture, wildlife and the environment. Last but not least, you can also make an effort to do the small things like limiting the amount of energy you are using, conserving water, turning off the lights when you leave the room and taking shorter showers will all add up to make a big difference!
We’ve have you covered for your European city-hopping adventure plus so many more types of adventures! Here are some other benefits that most of our policies include:
Have you been city-hopping around Europe before? If so, we’d love to see some of your amazing pictures! We also want to hear about your experience of sustainability within Europe, was it better than you thought? Worse maybe? Do you have any other great tips that you think we should mention next time? You can share your pictures/stories with us @alphatravel_ins on Instagram or on Facebook here.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on going city-hopping/inter-railing around Europe, you can get a travel insurance quote with us here.
*Bracketed text highlights the ranking number according to data from 2020¹.
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