Globetrotting travelers may look cool on Instagram, but there’s one big problem with people who fly frequently in search of a wanderlust thrill — the dirty trail of air travel CO2 emissions.
Air travel accounts for 3 percent of global carbon emissions, fueling a growing “flight shame” movement in Europe, which has targeted everyone from high-powered CEOs attending Davos to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who prefer chartering private airplanes.
Air travel accounts for 3 percent of global carbon emissions, fueling a growing “flight shame” movement.
If you are concerned about the environmental impact of your next flight, there are some simple ways to clean-up your travel itinerary and minimize any feelings of flight shame. The next time you consider booking a flight, keep in mind these pointers to result in a greener and more sustainable trip.
Book nonstop. The first travel tip is easy — know your airfare routes and try to fly domestic nonstop service whenever possible. That’s because jets burn the most fuel as they’re taxing and taking off, so a direct journey is better than one with a connection or two.
It’s also a shorter flying experience and could save you the headache of a missed connection and possible delay. However, this doesn’t always work for long-haul flights, which have added weight and longer distances to go, therefore, reducing the plane’s overall efficiency in the sky.
Meet in the middle. Do you have to plan a work trip soon? If a virtual meeting isn’t on the table, then start by asking where everyone will be flying from and meet in the middle. That’s not only more convenient and quicker for everyone to travel, but it saves CO2 emissions in the process, and the value adds up for large-scale conventions and meetings with hundreds or thousands of participants.
Want to know where to meet? University of Southern California Professor Leor Hackel designed this handy travel footprint app which analyzes peoples’ cities of origin and determines sustainable meeting sites based on flight patterns. Hint: If your team is spread across Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, then guess what? You should be meeting in Chicago.
Take two-for-one bleisure trips. Being strategic about business travel and rolling in a few extra days for a leisurely vacation, aka bleisure, is a great way to spare a flight for another one-off vacation. So, go ahead, enjoy Disney World if you’re already in Orlando for a conference.
Ride the rails more often. Embrace the beauty and built-in ease to riding the rails. While train travel was certainly the most popular form of transit in a bygone era, it’s regaining popularity thanks to its squeaky-clean reputation for the environment.
Trains are much less of a CO2 emitter compared to planes, and also a stress-free way to travel quickly from one city to the next. There’s no airport security to worry about either — just sit back, relax, and watch the world pass you by.
Rail travel can be especially handy for travelers in congested corridors like The Northeast, where it’s often more reliable to ride between Washington, DC, New York City, and Boston by way of Amtrak.
Opt for a staycation. You don’t have to fly somewhere to feel like you’re on vacation. Simply put your phone on airplane mode and check into a splurge-worthy hotel in your hometown. A quick weekend staycation can make you feel refreshed and worlds apart from the daily grind. There’s even some research from UCLA that shows if you treat your weekend like a vacation, you’ll be in a better mindset come Monday.