Minimalist.Travel: Going Low Impact

Yes, you have choices…

Travel High Impact

Airplanes, Cruise Ships, & Tourism that Destroys Local Ecology and Economics

  • Each hour of flight causes 100 times the global warming as a bus or train; added up, aviation on its own causes 4% of human-induced global warming. It is unsustainable as more people travel; taking a flight is one of the worst personal decisions you can make for the planet. If you do fly (the only feasible way to cross large world distances in many cases), try to reduce the number of trips and to really make the most of the area you do travel to. Also, some flights can be lower carbon than others; Skyscanner allows you to filter for lower carbon (though still impactful, don’t fool yourself) options. And choosing economy is better than business/first class because more people share the plane’s carbon footprint with tighter packing into seats.
  • Cruise ships are even worse than air travel. According to one calculation, for example, a vacation on a cruise rather than a hotel plus flight means twice the personal CO2 footprint. And that doesn’t even include the flights that many take to get to the cruise ship, and the other disastrous impacts of cruise pollution.
  • If you carry heavy bags (which we discourage) you’ll likely need to rely more on taxi rides or rental cars, and thus contribute more CO2, as well as to the clogging up of city streets and noise and air pollution at your destination. Yes, the Kayak search engine (or Momondo) allows you to filter for electric cars and compare offers from a variety of companies, and Uber, Bolt, and others offer electric vehicle options in some locales. These are far better than conventional gas-powered cars, but they still clog streets, are a danger to pedestrians and cyclists, use CO2 if charged in coal-burning regions, and have particulate emissions.
  • If you act like a complete turd at your travel destination, you contribute to local resentment towards tourists. This can include disrespecting local environments and norms, buying products and services that negatively impact these, and littering. Much of this comes down to behaving as responsibly on the road as you would at home, though at times this means taking extra care for local sensibilities or sensitive environments.

Travel Low Impact

Trains, Buses, & Experiences that Support Communties and Environments

  • Trains are more comfortable and far more ecological than flying; they also tend to deposit you directly in city centers, which saves significant time and expense. In Europe, our tests of the best websites for buying train tickets often result in us recommending Trainline for trip planning; it shows better and often cheaper routes than the national operators’ own sites, especially when crossing borders.
  • Buses are often cheaper than trains and also a much lower carbon alternative to flying. They can also be slower and more uncomfortable than the other options—but not always. Buses can be surprisingly comfortable in Brazil and Latin America, for example. And in Eastern Europe they’re often more reliable. The best way to book buses in Europe and many others parts of the world is often once again Trainline, although BusBud is another great option to check, especially outside of Europe.
  • Check for city bicycle programs in your destinations; if available to tourists these can be a great way to get around. It’s easiest to check the local website beforehand to see if it’s possible to make use of the program as a visitor. (This is impossible in Barcelona without a local address, for example—many tourists waste time trying to punch buttons in the kiosks’ machines. But it is, but very possible in most French cities.) Also, local bike shops often offer rentals, which is a great way to support small businesses while having less of a carbon footprint and a great way to get around and sitesee.
  • Walking is a classic, low-carbon, beautiful way to experience most places and be in real contact with the people and the terrain. Know how to use your phone’s map app before you go—and to download the destination area into the map for offline use if needed.
  • Yes, low impact travel gives you the right to flygskam others into also behaving a bit more appropriately in their travels. Social pressure and changed expectations of “normal” is about all that moves the needle in this fragile, failing world.

Our Articles About Trains and Other Lower Impact Forms of Transport

Rail Europe vs Omio vs Trainline: Which Consistently Gets the Best Deals on Train Tickets

Your Travel Guide Mose Hayward Rail Nut We ran dozens of pan-European searches on the three top train booking platforms, Rail Europe, Omio, and Trainline, and compared the results. The goal was to find out: Which site results in better and cheaper train trips? All three of these websites are far easier to use than most…

Read more… Rail Europe vs Omio vs Trainline: Which Consistently Gets the Best Deals on Train Tickets

We Tested the Legitimate Train Booking Platforms for France—Here’s What Works Best for Cheap Tickets

Your Train Guide Mose Hayward Hexagonal Rail Nut I’ve been booking train tickets online for French trains for two decades, both with the SNCF’s official websites and the various good competing private booking platforms. There is now a healthy variety of alternatives for booking French train tickets that can get you e-tickets with the same…

Read more… We Tested the Legitimate Train Booking Platforms for France—Here’s What Works Best for Cheap Tickets

Train Passes Offering Discounts in European Countries—What They Are and How to Get the Deals

Your Travel Guide Mose Hayward European Rail Nut Almost every European country offers some sort of a discount card available for purchase for discounts on their train systems. Unfortunately, these cards are often not really worth it unless you make particular trips repeatedly, say for work or visiting family. I’ve lived mainly in European countries…

Read more… Train Passes Offering Discounts in European Countries—What They Are and How to Get the Deals

An Insider’s Guide to Barcelona Sants Train Station—from a Local Who’s Lived next to it for 15 Years

Barcelona Sants is not exactly one of Europe’s more gorgeous train stations, but it effectively connects Barcelona to places throughout Catalonia and in Spain and France Your Train Guide Loulou Mcclaine British Wanderer Barcelona Sants Station is unlovely but clean and well equipped with a range of services. It’s not huge, but can seem a…

Read more… An Insider’s Guide to Barcelona Sants Train Station—from a Local Who’s Lived next to it for 15 Years

Ouigo, Iryo, Avlo, and Ave: The Key Differences in High-Speed Train Options in Spain—at a Glance

Your Travel Guide Mose Hayward Rail Nut We’re spoiled for options for crossing Spain and Catalonia by train. There are four operators running daily high-speed trains here and all of them are comfortable, fast, and often pretty cheap. The standard-bearer from the national operator is Renfe’s Ave service; Renfe also now has its own budget…

Read more… Ouigo, Iryo, Avlo, and Ave: The Key Differences in High-Speed Train Options in Spain—at a Glance

Renfe’s Avlo Reviewed: Is This Cheap High Speed Train Worthwhile for Spain and Catalonia?

Spain’s national railway company Renfe’s budget train service, Avlo, zips you from Madrid to a handful of major cities at very low cost. Photo by André Marques. Your Train Guide Catherine Marucci Train Wanderer I tested out the Spanish national railway’s new ultra-cheap service for a trip from Barcelona to Madrid and was pleasantly surprised…

Read more… Renfe’s Avlo Reviewed: Is This Cheap High Speed Train Worthwhile for Spain and Catalonia?

FlixTrain: What to Know Before Taking this Cheap Rail Alternative in Germany and Sweden

FlixTrain provides a cheap, no-frills way to get around Germany and Sweden. Here a train rests at the Berlin-Spandau Station; photo by Roland Arhelger. Your Train Guide Jacline Melliou Travel Guru FlixTrain is generally much cheaper than what you’d pay for the national train operators—but whether it’s right for you depends on a few factors…

Read more… FlixTrain: What to Know Before Taking this Cheap Rail Alternative in Germany and Sweden

The Key Tips for Deutsche Bahn—And Getting Cheaper, Smoother Rides on German Trains

Trains from the German national operator Deutsche Bahn are definitely the most comfortable way to travel the country—and often also cheap, especially with some good strategies. Photo of this ICE train by Michael Hanisch. Your Train Guide Sam Gilman Global Traveller I have long used trains as the most cost-effective and convenient way to get…

Read more… The Key Tips for Deutsche Bahn—And Getting Cheaper, Smoother Rides on German Trains

Solutions for Buying Train Tickets for France in Spite of Credit Card Rejections from Ouigo and SNCF Connect

Trouble with a foreign credit card and the French train system? You’re not alone, but there really are solutions that don’t involve aggravation, nor travel agents and their extra fees. Photo credits Tomas Depenbusch and ccPixs. Your Train Guide Mose Hayward Hexagonal Rail Nut The French train operator’s websites SNCF Connect and Ouigo are notorious for…

Read more… Solutions for Buying Train Tickets for France in Spite of Credit Card Rejections from Ouigo and SNCF Connect

Solved! The Problems with SNCF Connect and Ouigo Websites — and How We Buy French Train Tickets in Spite of Them

The server for the error-ridden SNCF Connect website is presumably as functional and modern as this train hardware. Credit: David Hellmann. Your Train Guide Mose Hayward Hexagonal Rail Nut If you are blocked by error messages on the SNCF Connect or on Ouigo.com, you’re not alone. The websites and apps have lots of redirects and undergo…

Read more… Solved! The Problems with SNCF Connect and Ouigo Websites — and How We Buy French Train Tickets in Spite of Them

The Best & Cheapest Ways to Travel Between Paris and Barcelona: Train, Bus, and — If You Must — Plane

Your Guide Mose Hayward Travel Nerd I’ve long lived in the lovely, romantic French capital Paris and the lively, sexy Catalan capital Barcelona — these are absolutely my favorite two cities in the world. But how to travel between them? There are lots of websites that promise to sell you tickets between the two cities.…

Read more… The Best & Cheapest Ways to Travel Between Paris and Barcelona: Train, Bus, and — If You Must — Plane

F.A.Q. on Brazilian Bus Travel

A view from my most recent Brazilian bus trip, approaching Rio de Janeiro. I’d like to put my years of Brazilian bus travel to use and answer a few of the most common questions we get from travellers. I’m also including perspectives here from other travellers with extensive experience in Brazil, including some female travellers…

Read more… F.A.Q. on Brazilian Bus Travel

Here’s How We Solved the Problems with Booking On Trenitalia’s Website

Your Guide Mose Hayward Travel Nerd I’ve been booking trains in Italy for many years, and oh, the problems. Trenitalia’s official website is buggy to say the least, and the ticket machines in train stations are as confusing as the humans at the ticket counters. Worse, using foreign (American, French, etc.) credit cards can cause even…

Read more… Here’s How We Solved the Problems with Booking On Trenitalia’s Website

Solved: The Problems with Renfe’s (God-Awful!!) Website and How to Get Around Them

The Renfe website is infamous for random payment card rejections and other dysfunction that can make it nearly unusable. Even Spanish-speaking users with Spanish bank cards have problems. But there are solutions. Your Guide Mose Hayward Travel Nerd Oh the many, many problems with Renfe.com! I’m fluent in Spanish and have used the site for…

Read more… Solved: The Problems with Renfe’s (God-Awful!!) Website and How to Get Around Them

How to Travel Europe by Train

Our full guide to the charms of taking trains, including how best to buy tickets and what to pack; photo copyright Charley Aimée. Your Guide Mose Hayward Train Geek We’ve been travelling all around Europe by train for two decades now, and we’ve got more than a few dos and don’ts to have a cheap, comfortable,…

Read more… How to Travel Europe by Train

Text by the disgustingly sweaty, obnoxiously opinionated human vagabond Mose Hayward. Illustrations by the human-electro hive mind Dall-E.


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