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Christmas Made Mobile.

This post originally ran one year ago today but is being shared again as it’s always good to have a refresher on holiday travel tips and it fits perfectly with Planet Arks 12 do’s of Christmas tip number 10. 

For so many of us Christmas is a time for travel. Whether it’s visiting your distant family members, going on a vacation, or simply heading to the beach for a Christmas day picnic, some kind of travel usually happens around the Christmas break. As we move towards a ‘greener’ holiday season there are ways to make your chosen mode of transportation more environmentally friendly by making a few simple changes in the way you travel, or other areas of your life.

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Buses, Trains, and Trams

Everyones circumstances are different but for some of us there are options when it come to modes of travel. If you have access to public transport you can utilise it for the holiday season. My local council offers a free bus service over the holiday season. Public transport not only cuts cost on fuel, it decreases traffic congestion, reduces stress levels, is a way to meet new people, has wonderful air-conditiong (an important factor in the sub tropics) and is a great way to move around if you have drunk in a little too much ‘festive cheer’. Shifting from using your personal vehicle to public transport can reduce carbon emissions by 65 percent during peak travel times like Christmas, and 95 percent during off peak times.

No Public Transport but the party is nearby?

If you don’t have access to public transport service in your area (or perhaps they close down over the holidays) but you live close to to your destination you could opt for a Christmas family bike ride.  It would be great fun to arrive at your Christmas Party hosts house on push bikes. You could even go a step further with your Christmas cheer and decorate your bike and helmet for the occasion. If you were planning to ride home after dark you could decorate your bike with some Christmas solar lights. If your destination is in walking distance this is always the best option because it’s easy, you can have a couple of drinks, drink bike-riding is illegal, and requires no fancy equipment other than legs and shoes. If you have the fancy equipment handy you could skate, skip, hop, roll, or pogo your way there. The best part about walking, riding or rolling, to your party is that after you have ‘fed-up’ on festive feasts your journey home will aid in digestion.

Car only?

For some, none of the above options will be a possibility. That’s perfectly ok. However, as long as we are on the topic have you contemplated moving to a location that will allow you to catch public transport, walk, or ride to most locations? This may sound a little extreme but if you have a move planned in the not-so-distant future you could look for a location that allows you these alternatives. Before making the move interstate I spent a great deal of time (making spreadsheets, yes I am a nerd) analysing the most cost effective and envirionmentally friendly place to live by researching public transport options to both work and University, the distance to shops, beaches, airports, and night life. Seven years on I have lived in two rental houses in the same area and bought a home earlier this year. All of these houses I have lived in are in walking distance from each other. I rarely use my car at all with my estimated spend on fuel per annum at $300AUD. The monetary savings, health benefits, and environmental kudos of living this kind of lifestyle well and truly outweigh the inconvenience of doing the pre-move-planning stages. In the mean time if you are using your car you can consider the following factors before heading out for your Christmas road trips.

Carpooling

As Christmas is traditionally a time for sharing and caring, what better time than now to share your ride with someone else! Carpooling with family and friends is a great way to save carbon emissions and make memories. A study by the UN showed at Europeans who carpooled from 2008 to 2011 saved over 630,000 tonnes in carbon emissions, 324 million liters of gas and 750 million Euros. Get your favourite Christmas  turns cranking and ask Mum, Dad and Aunt Mildred to be your backup singers and passengers. Keep in mind that if one of you have a car with high fuel efficiency, hybrid fuel technology, electric, or bio fuel, options then that would be the car to use for your car pool.

Travel Tips for Efficiency

Regardless if you are car-pooling or driving solo aim for optimal fuel efficiency. If you are getting best mileage from your car then you are not only saving money in the long run, you are getting more distance for your dollar. To get the best fuel efficiency the ABC Carbon Cops’s offer the following suggestions:

  • Keep tyres inflated correctly. This reduces their surface contact with the road, which reduces the drag on your car from friction with the ground.
  • Remove roof racks and other items that increase the air resistance of your car when they’re not in use.
  • Drive steadily, not aggressively
  • Stay under the speed limit – at high speeds an extra 5 km/h can mean a drop of XX% in fuel efficiency
  • Drive the first few minutes with your window down so that hot air escapes your car. This means the air conditioner works less hard to cool the air inside.
  • Drive in the most efficient gear, not too high or too low
  • Keep the weight down – don’t carry lots of things you don’t need in your car. Heavy cars need more fuel to go the same distance as light cars.

If none of these options are possible

Have one less serving of roast dinner and pass on the double whipped cream. Believe it or not, the production of meat and dairy creates more (and more dangerous) GHG emissions than the transport industry. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat your meat, it just means you should really eat less. If the roast is cooked and on the table don’t let the beast go to waste do it justice and devour every last morsel. But keep in mind the ecological footprint that goes with your consumption and consider taking on a few veggie protein meals a week in place of your meat protein. If this is something you would like to look into I personally recommend the The Truth About Meat‘ as a non-preachy or emotive look at meat consumption as you won’t feel guilted about your decision at the end of it if you do decide to continue eating meat protein.

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Sky High?

If you are flying for your holiday season emissions are unavoidable. However there are a few things you can do to make your journey a little more ‘eco’:

  • Check for direct flights (if you can afford them) as they will result in less emissions. A tip for getting direct flights at a decent price is to wait for airline sale periods. I can get direct flights from my local airport interstate to visit family for a third of the regular price by buying during sale periods and taking holidays from work to suit the flight dates. I’m far too lazy to get myself organised to head into Brisbane for flights, so the local airport is always my preference.
  • Consider how you plan to get to the airport. Use the tips above to find the best option for you. Again, careful contemplation can help with this. Usually suburbs near airports are cheaper to live in (they can be a bit noisy)  and have access to public transport. If you fly regularly and are considering moving house perhaps you could shack up near the airport then when your plane lands it’s a short walk or bus ride home! My airport is a four dollar, fifteen minute bus ride away which suits me perfectly for my interstate travels to visit family.
  • Pack wisely. Put some useful items in your carry on. I always try to bring an empty water bottle on to avoid wastage with plastic bottles. Some airlines won’t be ok with this. Check their websites to see. Even if you can’t take most of your eco utensils on board you can check them in for the other end. I like to take drawstring cotton bags, a fold up carry bag with handles, a water bottle, and a stainless steel straw. Would add a reusable coffee cup to this list for anyone who drinks coffee or tea. Then you are pretty much set!
  • Ask questions. You might annoy the cabin crew with your packaging questions but its always good to ask how the food they are serving will be packaged. Aim for a mid flight snack or meal with the least amount of packaging. If they don’t have recycling on the plane you and you are allowed to take the wrappers with you on landing, then opt to do this to make sure your recyclables don’t end up in landfill.
  • On landing, buy local. Supporting the local economy is the best way to ‘give back’ to the places you are visiting. Step away from the McDonalds burger and head to a local cafe instead!
  • and finally, buy Carbon offsets if offered.

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Most importantly please take care over this holiday season. The world needs all the eco minded people it can get so ensuring your personal safety is of pivotal importance!