Travel is a wonderful thing. It’s a chance to learn and see and do new things, to meet new people and open our minds and be challenged, and this latest trip was such a wonderful time I’m dreaming up my next holiday abroad!
I majored in International Social Development at university and have always been interested in other cultures so it follows that much of my early travels had been in developing countries. Despite all those incredible experiences, I often felt uncomfortable about the impact of tourism on local communities, conscious that no matter how culturally sensitive I try to be, I am fuelling change both good and bad, along with the many thousands of people who have trod that very same path. This is a highly debatable topic and Wild Wilderness throws some heavy punches in the direction of tourism, but with the evening news filled with stories about racism and intolerance around the globe I don’t think this is a time to be parochial.
Now however, thanks to a UK born husband, my holidays have been in Europe and I suppose responsible tourism here is more about greener modes of transport since the aviation industry is one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions.
I’m going to say upfront that I am not a supporter of carbon off-setting. It’s not a long term solution and along with all the other quick fixes, it doesn’t create change but allows people to feel good about themselves without actually doing anything different. Rather, we should reconsider travel altogether and think about alternatives.
So this time, rather than jet set across Europe, we packed light and boarded the train. I loved that you could board the train in, say, Vienna and a few hours later hop off in Hungary – a totally foreign concept in Australia!
Seat 61 has done the maths and train travel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. It’s also cheaper, sometimes faster when you consider check-in times, and leaves you to relax and enjoy the ride.
But sustainable transport is not just for holidays. When my old car broke down for the last time (may she rest in peace) James and I decided to look into car sharing rather than buy a new one. We are lucky that a commercial scheme operates in our neighbourhood and in the two years we’ve been car sharing, the fleet has tripled which means it’s rising in popularity. It’s pretty convenient and I haven’t really felt the need to own a car at all. Certainly it’s not always the cheapest way to get from A to B, but then I just jump on a bus or a ferry and I’m there.