Europe is re-opening its borders, and students are hoping they’ll be able to travel again soon. While you wait for the green light from the government that it’s okay to venture abroad, why not take this time to reflect? As we enter the “new normal”, let’s embrace ethical and sustainable student travel.
On top of working for HYBR, I run a blog dedicated to better travel, which aims to help students and first-time travellers to improve their travel habits.
As a student, you should travel to broaden your horizons, discover your passion, and build skills and experience that will help you in the job market.
Find your dream student home to use as a solid base, then start exploring the world. When it’s safe to travel, follow this quick guide to make sure you do it sustainably.
Cheap travel is better because it allows students to meet like-minded people, build lifelong friendships, and have meaningful adventures. However, it’s also much better for the planet!
Posh hotels, offering fresh towels daily and tiny bottles of shampoo, are incredibly unsustainable. Staying in a hostel dorm, conversely, tends to be much more eco-friendly. You’ll often bring your own towels and won’t be provided toiletries. This means you have more control over your daily routine and can form environmentally-friendly habits.
Then there’s transport. Cheap options often lead to sustainable student travel because you can take a bus or train to your destination rather than flying. Though flights may look cheap, students up to age 27 can receive Interrail discounts of up to 25%. When you take into account the number of countries this gives you access to, it’s far cheaper than trying to fly to each one!
So embrace budget travel to lower your environmental impact.
When you arrive at your new student home, you’ll meet all kinds of housemates, including the ones who arrive with five suitcases and ten boxes, yet still need an immediate trip to IKEA before term starts. When backpacking, this clearly isn’t practical.
Aim to keep your packing list down. If you can comfortably carry everything, then you’ll be able to spend a lot more time walking and less time on gas-guzzling vehicles. Even when you do take a taxi, keeping weight down means it will burn less fuel to carry you.
Packing light also helps you achieve sustainable student travel because you can be more mindful about what you pack. Rather than bringing lots of cheap, plastic, disposable items, go for higher quality travel gear. Whether that’s a bamboo toothbrush, a T-shirt made of algae, or a backpack created from recycled plastic bottles, you can choose the most sustainable products to travel with.
By 2020, it’s predicted that 40% of carbon emissions will be caused by tourist activities. Once in destination, you should try to find fun adventures that are the least damaging to the environment. If you love nature, then opt for a camping trip in the mountains and take spectacular hikes. Be wary of any animal tours, choosing only tour providers with eco-friendly credentials and a reputation for ethical tourism.
Also, don’t just choose the first half-decent accommodation you can find, but actively seek out affordable eco-lodges. For a truly meaningful experience, consider staying with a local family, becoming immersed in the culture. What they consider daily chores may seem like a unique and eye-opening experience to you. Learn and have fun, despite engaging only in low-impact activities.
Student travel is an important part of your transition into adulthood, but be mindful of its potentially negative effects. You can become a better, more sustainable student traveller with the above tips. Travel can be cheap, exciting, and meaningful, while still be environmentally sustainable!