There’s only so much you can do to be a totally green traveller unless you emulate Cliffy Young and do the gumboot shuffle to Sydney and back. However, you can make some modifications to the way you travel in order not to burn up fuel.
Car-travel – choose LPG or diesel over petrol but if you are lucky enough to have a hybrid or totally electric car then that’s better still. However, you can car-pool for the long hauls too. Hunt around for trustworthy friends who may like to schedule their holiday at the same time as yours and share the cost of the petrol and a bit more for wear and tear and everyone is happy!
Be a considerate passenger and don’t insist on your Guns’N’Roses CD to be played all the way. He/She who drives chooses the entertainment.
Packing a picnic for en route is a good idea. Check what kind of space there is for that esky or thermos basket and agree on the ‘stop’ procedure before you leave. I quite often freeze some ham/chicken/cheese and pickle baguettes as these seem to be what you feel like at Coonabarabran when heading north. Feed the ducks in the park, have a slice of fruit cake (travels well) and pre-make some lattes in the thermos. The stainless steel thermoses are great. You can also refill these at some of those little cafes on the way.
You will then be guaranteed a fun and cheap trip knowing that sharing it will save the planet many black balloons!
Flying – you are somewhat over a barrel here as you can’t really control the amount of fuel used. But logically, a direct flight uses less, and a pilot pal told me that scheduling your trip in times where there is less wind will also save fuel emissions. Most airlines nowadays allow you to pay extra for a carbon offset, so this might be an option to add when purchasing flights.
Fly with an airline that doesn’t bother with meals and you save a mass of disposable junk and save money.
Train travel – this is the best way to save and it should be so much cheaper and better used as it is by far the least stressful journey, and comparatively safe despite some bad accidents over the years. You can get up and walk around, pack a picnic, sleep, read, watch the scenery and sit in mostly comfy seats arriving in the town centre for the most part and then you can walk to a hotel or B & B. The carbon emissions are shared by as many people who buy tickets. If a group of you travel, consider trying to get a group deal.
Bus – second to train travel but you can’t really wander around, you are sharing the emissions across the entire busload. Some buses have toilets and provide food or they stop along the way at country pubs that serve excellent roasts.
Horse and Gipsy caravan – slow, pretty, a bit expensive, but definitely that Buddhist thing of the journey being more important than the arrival.
Grey Nomads style Winnebago or car towing caravan – this has really caught on for retirees who free-camp along the way if they are smart enough to have solar power and a water tank. It is a convivial way to see our country and many friends and their folks swear by it. Free camping is where you park your vehicle in an acceptable place, such as a beach car park, and camp for free. In most countries erecting a tent is not accepted, and you should ensure that all of your things remain in your vehicle. Sitting outside with a table and chairs is fine, as is hanging out your washing. The key thing is to make no noise and mess, leave the spot as you found it. Stay with your gear and make yourself known to other campers in the site you’re your security. Having seen ‘Easyrider’ I am a bit ambivalent. However, it is FREE and provided you don’t forget to use your brains about lighting fires and cleaning up and noise pollution, plus hopefully camping near some like minded people, it is a great way to travel. If your car or van aren’t equipped with a toilet and shower, just drive by a local shopping centre and use theirs. Or a service station. Keep them clean though!
Cycling tour – if you have the energy and enough to carry a pack of clothes, food, spare tubes and tools, perhaps a light tent and bed roll, sunscreen and first aid kit this is an excellent way to travel. You will see the most as the speed at which you are travelling is perfect for sight-seeing. This is as green as you can get particularly if the bike you have bought is a locally made one.
If you have a family in tow, it is up to you to decide the degree to which your brood can handle these methods of travel.