As travel bloggers, we take a lot of flights during the year. Though travelling does fill our hearts with happiness, the effect on our planet doesn’t. That’s why we started researching the CO2 impact of our flights and tried to find a more sustainable way to travel. The results? We now love to travel by train for European city trips close to our home country the Netherlands. We visited both Paris and London by train recently and will tell you how much lower the CO2 impact is and give you a review of the Eurostar from London to Amsterdam.
The impact of our flights
We hate how visiting distant places all over the world has a negative impact on the planet that we love exploring so much. We fly to the most beautiful places to experience other cultures, explore the beauty of nature and tell our readers about all these amazing places. All those flights contribute to the climate change problems the world is dealing with now.
When researching the impact of our flights, we learned that flights are one of the biggest polluters. More than eating meat, owning a car or not insulating your home. If you fly two or even more times a year like we usually do, these flights have the most impact on our planet of everything you do. Let’s give you some numbers:
If you want to compensate for the CO2 emission of one trip which took you 6,5 hours of travelling. You’d need 143 trees to compensate for a flight, while travelling by car for 6,5 hours costs ‘only’ 17 trees and by train 8 trees.
For all our Dutch readers, we highly recommend reading the book De verborgen impact by Babette Porcelijn. The author thoroughly researched the impact of everything we do on our planet, providing you with helpful information to live and travel more sustainably. The numbers above are from this book. You could also use its useful and free online impact tool (in Dutch) to find out how sustainable you are currently living and travelling. We recommend you do the test twice, once including and once excluding flights. The result was shocking to us.
How to travel more sustainable?
Are you going on a city trip to a city just a few hours by car or train from your hometown? Skip the plane and go by car or train. Are you considering taking a domestic flight? Look into the alternatives of a (night) bus or the local train. Then do the impact test again and you will see how drastically your CO2 impact drops!
For long journeys, the car and train are often less good options, but even then consider them. By taking the car or train, you’d travel around the world at a slower pace. How amazing would it be to go on a world trip with your own campervan? It is one of our biggest travel dreams and we love to follow inspiring Instagram accounts travelling the world without taking the plane.
And how about travelling closer to home to avoid CO2 impact. We also love to make short or even longer trips in our own small country! A cycling trip would then also be a great option. Your journey would then not only be about getting you from A to B, but the journey itself is the destination.
But we have to admit, we love to travel a lot and to faraway destinations. We live very sustainably besides our travels and we don’t like how our flights have a bigger impact than all our other green efforts combined. We eat vegetarian and most times even vegan, we hardly buy things, clothes or electronics, we compost our food scraps, we live in a tiny house, etc. So it’s definitely our travels that impact the world mostly.
How to research the impact of your flight, car or train trip
When we decided to visit London, we researched how to travel more sustainably to this city trip destination. There are cheap and direct flights from our home town Rotterdam to London, but we wanted to review the impact of such a flight and look for a more sustainable option. We tried to find a good alternative.
At ecopassenger.org we calculated the impact of a flight to London and compared this with a trip by other modes of transport. These were the results:
More than 115 kg CO2 for a flight, but only 11.4 kg CO2 for the train? The difference is immense. Especially when you take into consideration that one large tree only absorbs about 7 kg of CO2 per year according to the Dutch book we mentioned before (although calculations differ between 2 and 20 kg of CO2 intake). This means the difference between the two is the intake of 15 trees!
We also looked into the travel time and found out it is quite the same, or even faster to travel by train. We can board the train in our hometown Rotterdam – or our capital Amsterdam, which is probably a better starting point for travellers from our country – at the end of a workday at 5.10 pm to arrive in London at 9.33 pm, after a transit in Brussels. That’s not even 5.5 hours! The return journey is even faster with a direct Eurostar train from London to Amsterdam or Rotterdam: it takes about 3 hours. A flight itself might be a bit faster, but it takes quite some time to get to the airports, checking in, waiting and boarding.
The price is a bit disappointing though. We paid 198 euros for two return train tickets. And that is more expensive than tickets for a flight. But we think the difference is not that much, considering transportation costs to and from the airport and Yet the difference is not that much, especially if you also look at the transportation costs to and from the airport. We bought our tickets via NS International. Prices are usually the cheapest about three months ahead.
So: we’re taking the train to London!
So we decided to take the train to London and pay 198 euros for the tickets. And next month, we’ll go to our favourite city trip destination in Europe: Paris, also by train.