For most Americans, traveling around the Old Continent is a dream. Admiring sunrise in Spain, drinking the first espresso in Italy, and diving into the turquoise waters of Greece – it’s all like a beautiful fantasy. There’s a lot to see and even more to learn.
One of the good things to pick up from Europe is a culture of sustainability. If you make a few compromises, it’s not hard to travel through Europe sustainably.
You can enjoy all its wonders and befriend nature and the environment.
9 Ways To Travel Through Europe Sustainably
1. Prepare your home before you go
The practice of sustainability must begin at your very first step. It’s no use being sustainable in Europe if you leave all your appliances plugged in in your home on the other side of the ocean. Make sure that your house is not wasting energy while you are gone by:
- lowering the temperature on the thermostat
- unplugging as many appliances as you can
- canceling any print subscriptions
2. Be energy efficient
It’s essential to start with little things as soon as you come to the site of residence. When staying in hotels, be aware of how much energy you are using. When you leave the room, make sure the lights and the air conditioning are off. In many European hotel rooms, this is already a feature.
The electricity only comes on when the key is inserted into the corresponding slot. On days when the weather is scorching, if you draw the curtains or shut the window shutters before you leave the house in the morning, you won’t need to crank up the air conditioning as soon as you get back.
3. Single-use goods can be used multiple times
Reduce your consumption of other things that are wasteful to the greatest extent feasible. Many of us have developed travel habits that require us to use single-use goods far more often than at home. However, you may cut down on this by doing some planning.
Bring along a set of reusable picnic cutlery and plates and a lightweight shopping bag that you can carry in your day bag. You don’t need to retain the brochures, maps, or other materials.
So, rather than picking them up, you should think about snapping pictures of them. Next year, they will produce fewer brochures due to the decreasing demand for them at tourist information centers.
Finally, you should try to avoid using the little, individually packed toiletries provided in hotel rooms. It is possible to go through a whole journey with only one bar of soap and one squeeze bottle of shampoo brought from home.
4. Choose sustainable transportation
Most of the gas emission goes to transport. That certainly is not quite eco-friendly. But, you’ve got to do it when traveling.
However, you might find a sustainable alternative to ordinary rent-a-car. Train travel, for example, uses less energy than other modes of transportation. Plus, wouldn’t it be the most romantic thing ever to travel through the romantic fields of Tuscany in a wagon or a train?
Also, as US Moving Experts suggest, if you are driving, adjust your speed for the minimum petrol usage. Driving too fast and rushing increases your fuel consumption. It’s not great for your wallet, and it’s horrible for the environment. And if you rent a car, opt for the electric or at least a hybrid one.
5. Make it a sustainable adventure
If you have to rent a vehicle, make sure you choose the one that will save you the most money on gas. Also, instead of depending on taxis, you can travel about urban areas by bicycle as a true eco-conscious European!
A bike tour or a walk rather than booking a trip on a bus can be a wonderful experience. It can be a great way to increase the number of steps you make daily and improve your fitness overall.
6. Reuse the water bottle
Most of Europe has access to high-quality drinking water from the tap, which is often made accessible in fountains throughout cities and towns.
With a simple trick, you can prevent the consumption of large amounts of plastic and lower the demand for water transported by land via trucks and trains. In other words, you win on all fronts when you reuse a water bottle.
7. Eat locally if you want to travel through Europe sustainably
The fantastic and diverse eating culture is what draws many American foodies to move to the ‘food capitals’ of Europe. During your trip, try to consume foods grown in the immediate area since the environment will benefit less from their transportation across great distances.
Also, that means you’ll experience delicious local cuisine firsthand. You haven’t tried real carbonara if an old Italian granny didn’t make it for you. Instead of eating at a chain restaurant, try bringing a picnic and shopping at a farmer’s market.
8. Spend some time with locals
Traveling is not only about watching pretty views and landscapes. It’s all about getting to experience different cultures. Also, culture is not only about monuments and pieces of material; it’s about the people.
When you spend some time getting to know people, you get to experience the culture they grew up in. You might pick up valuable things along the way.
For example, if you spend some time staying with a French family in their home, you’ll get weird looks if you leave the water pouring while you brush your teeth, and the embarrassment will make you stop doing that. And voila – you learned a valuable lesson in sustainability!
9. Bring a little souvenir
Finding locals to stay with is now easier than ever. You can chat with them before coming on some language-learning app, or you can schedule your stay via so-called couch surfing.
Options now are endless! Only a little effort separates you from enjoying a picnic in a beautiful field of tulips in the Netherlands. If you decide to give some love to nature and travel through Europe sustainably, Europe will love you back.
Who knows, maybe you discover an old secret behind the windmills? If you’re lucky, you might bring a little eco-consciousness as a souvenir when you come home.
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Author: Sophia Perry