The Tea on Sustainable Living

#28 | Planning your next trip: sustainable travel series

May 02, 2023 Brandee and Hannah
The Tea on Sustainable Living
#28 | Planning your next trip: sustainable travel series
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Show Notes Transcript

Are you planning a trip this summer?? (And if not, still read and listen for future you!)

With the summer holidays just around the corner, we thought taking a deeper dive into sustainable travel would be fun (and hopefully helpful).

We’re breaking it down into stages, and in this first episode of our three-part mini-series, we’re talking about the planning stage. As in, what can we do in this stage to decrease our impact and have a more sustainable trip?

From carbon offsetting (check out our previous episode, #7, on flying) to choosing eco-friendly accommodation options, we can do a range of things in the planning stage to lessen our impact on the planet. We also discuss the importance of bringing money to local communities and supporting the local economy over those bigger travel providers.

So if you're going on holiday soon (or any time), grab some tea, get comfy, and hit that play button. 

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NOTE: You may have to head to the website,, for clickable links.

#7 | To fly or not to fly?
Article | The Best New Services for Planning a More Sustainable Trip in 2022
Article | Guide to green travel: Planning and financing a sustainable vacation
Article | What Does the Phrase "Slow Travel" Actually Mean?
Article | What is Slow Travel? (+ 3 Slow Travel Myths)
Hotel | Good Hotel
Website | The Man in Seat 61
Website | GoClimate
Website | Ecologi 

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-Brandee and Hannah

Note: This transcript is mostly unedited.

Brandee   0:05  
It's not easy living on a dying planet. But it is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to making changes and taking action to try and save it. Where do you start? Is it even worth it? Can you really make a difference? Welcome to The Tea on Sustainable Living podcast, where we attempt to answer these questions by spilling the tea on living sustainably in a world that's going to shit. I'm Brandee.

Hannah  0:26  
And I'm Hannah. And for years, we've been navigating the big messy gray area of caring about our planet. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, but we're not giving up yet. So brew yourself a cup of tea, get comfy, and let's try and navigate that gray area together. Hello, Give-a-Shitters. This is Hannah.

Brandee   0:47  
And this is Brandee. And you are listening to episode number 28 of The Tea on Sustainable Living podcast.

Hannah  0:52  
Yay. My,

Brandee   0:55  
my age. A yay. Instead of a Oops, no.

Hannah  0:58  
Yeah, well, that was was that different? Okay. I don't know. I'm still tired.

Brandee   1:07  
Yeah, Hannah has a her second cup of coffee. I was gonna make one. But then I didn't. No, no, this is. Oh, it's

Hannah  1:14  
not good. No, it's like no, it's like, because I was hanging my coffee machine. Didn't Well, I didn't screw my coffee machine on properly. So half the water escaped. And now I've just got like cold milk at the bottom and then like, semi warm coffee at the top. Like a bad.

Brandee   1:33  
Pour it all over ice and call it a nice coffee. Yeah, that sounds good. I might do that. Yeah, poured iced coffee. Anyway, so what are we talking about? today?

Hannah  1:44  
We're talking about travel. We had kind of talked about doing a little travel mini series. While Brandee had come up with this idea. And then I ran with it because I was out of ideas. Late last night. Um, and I thought maybe we could do this first episode about the planning side. Like the pre trip side of travel.

Brandee   2:12  
Yeah, like it. I think when I like braindump that idea it was because we've talked about flying. I think the carbon offsets were a part of that episode, not a separate episode. We've maybe referenced various travel things throughout episodes, but you've never like Yeah, please. I don't think so. Like travel specific. Other travel specific episodes. But yeah, like your your idea of like splitting it into like the stages, the pre planning and like the actual travel. And then like, I think yeah, you had like a post kind of longer. Yeah, longer game impact. Because yeah, like there are other podcasts and resources that talk about all of these specific, like things more in depth, whether it's flying or Airbnb, etc. But in terms of like how you can yet take that and actually, like, make some sort of changes.

Hannah  3:02  
Yeah, and that was something I found when I was like doing a little bit of research that there's like so much, but also so much of it understandably, like sponsored content, as well in the travel industry, which is doesn't necessarily mean it's inaccurate information or like, not useful. But there was also this other element of like, oh, but this is like this article. It's been produced by like a travel agency like, wow, you know, that that has an impact as well. Yeah. But yeah, I don't know, I was saying, what I think is pretty clear that both brand new and I like to travel. And I kind of realized I've like overloaded my schedule with travel this year. So I've got like several smaller trips planned. And then like a bigger trip, where I'm going to the States. Like, while there's been a I feel like the some thinking of some trips, like especially the ones in Spain, I've managed to keep them you know, I've chosen like to get the train rather than flying, things like that. But other things, other parts I haven't really, like, considered that element of it. So I feel like yeah, I just wanted to talk about that. Like, what are the things we you might want to bear in mind when planning a trip? And yeah, what even is like sustainable travel? I kind of was like looking at that. And I was like, I guess kind of travel that has like minimal or positive impacts on the environment and the communities that have been visited.

Brandee   4:41  
Yeah, that's a good way to frame it. Because anything, like anything we do we have an impact by existing we have an impact and you go somewhere new, where you're like, you're not from there. You don't live there, like you're gonna have some sort of impact. So trying to make that as positive as possible. You're not willing to give up travel, which I think is fair. I'm not we're not here to tell you what Have you know to do or not to do? Yeah, just things to consider. I hope that that comes across so so yeah, we you mentioned that there were some things that you hadn't considered when planning these trips Why do you think that is like time element? I know when other people are involved that way I think

Hannah  5:19  
yeah probably a little bit time and people more than anything especially for example around accommodation like the most of the trips I've got coming up but all the local ones that I've either have or like you know, or, or had in the last few months other people have kind of taken on the role of like finding accommodation so it's mostly been in Airbnb s. And you know, I've just like kind of gone along with it. I mean, I haven't, you know, taken any particular stand

Brandee   5:55  
Yeah, I think it was just about Airbnb. I don't think it's like an all all good or all bad thing I think depends on where you are. If it's like a city where those Airbnb is are preventing people to rent out affordable homes and also Yeah, maybe it's like raise the prices of the area. Think there's a lot of Airbnb is around around me and my neighborhood. I think there's actually one building I don't know if it's technically an Airbnb, but it's I don't know. I know there's nothing one across the street because my friends when they visited have stayed there. So yeah, there's definitely negative impacts of Airbnb, depending on where you are, I think cities like Seattle or Portland that like, came up with like, more strict like laws and like, you have to pay similar like fees, like hotels pay, etc. Yeah,

Hannah  6:45  
I know, they've introduced stuff in Madrid. And I think maybe in Barcelona, but I don't know how much they're being enforced. So for example, in theory, now, you should only be able to like Airbnb. If you're, if you're, the flat has a separate entrance, which basically makes it like impossible, in theory, because everyone in Madrid lives in flats. But I'm not sure that that's been enforced. But yeah,

Brandee   7:22  
so yeah, okay. So to put it in the context, or the lens of like, planning, you're planning a trip, there's a difference, obviously, with like, you're going solo or with people. You give up control. When you're with people, you you're accommodating, like schedules and other preferences. So if you're going in alone, you know, okay, you're planning, what's the first thing like, usually plan? It's like, where you're going when you're going? Right. And you mentioned Barcelona, so that made me think of that, because that is definitely an area that is like, over, over tour arised over tourist, tourist it over? Yeah. So many tourists go there. negatively impacting the city. So there's something to be said about, you know, choosing where you go. And considering. I don't know if that's like, if there are other places you could go that would have like less of an impact. Like I also think about like Venice, in Italy, which I also would like to go. Yeah. So does that mean people should like never go to Barcelona?

Hannah  8:24  
Yeah, that's a tricky one.

Brandee   8:27  
I think what do you have to like, prioritize? Like, what if you're traveling, I think the best thing is like to start the best place stars like, why are you traveling? What is your priority? Like? What are you hoping to get out of it? Is it just a break from city life? Or just to like, disconnect for X amount of time? Is it to see a specific thing see or experience a specific place? Culture, cuisine, whatever? Yeah. And yeah, just researching, like, whatever that like, if it is Barcelona or Venice, like, you know, little, little Mr. Google console, or like, what are the negative impacts of tourism right this place? And I don't know, is there like another way, another place you can go to still satisfy whatever your like, reason for travel, right?

Hannah  9:10  
Or is it like, Would it be better? And I don't know if this is true, but just coming to mind, like if, for example, if you were visiting Barcelona, would it be better to like, stay in like a smaller place along the coast and then just like, do a day trip in to like, see the things that you really wanted to see? You know, would that satisfy that need in a like, more sustainable way? I don't know if this is actually true, if what I'm saying is would be more sustainable, but like, I guess maybe being creative about, like, how you how you go somewhere.

Brandee   9:46  
I think that could be a good option, because if you're staying somewhere outside the main, like stigma of Barcelona, like a smaller town that surrounds it, that like, maybe doesn't get as much tourism and you're supporting that local, that local community and then Yeah, still going into Barcelona, like tick off whatever, you know, La Sagrada Familia, which we mentioned in the last episode, right? Because I think it's fine to like, you know, people say travel more like a local. But I think by going somewhere new year, like autumn, like you're the fact that you're not, you're already not a local in that place, right, kind of like, you can't live completely like local unless you actually live there and are local. So I think there are definitely, definitely ways that you can do that more. But like, I think it's still fine to like, be a tourist and to like, want to see the places you want to see like the Eiffel Tower or the scrub familiar, whatever it is, I think it's fine to like, want to tick those boxes. While maybe yeah, keeping in mind or balancing that with, like, with other things, I thought of also is there like a different time of the year, you could go that's maybe not so overcrowded? Because is it going to be as enjoyable of a trip if like, you're just surrounded by people, and I don't know, maybe that's just my own preference, like, wanting to be around a few people as possible.

Hannah  11:02  
Right. And also, I think, something that I read, I'll like post the link to that article, which I found quite interesting was saying that, some depending on where you're going, but up to like 90% of the money that you've spent for that a trip doesn't go into the like local communities, because the biggest spends tend to be your flights, or travel. And then like hotels and accommodation. And often we do do that through like, either finesse, like necessity, like, you know, there's only so many like flight flight companies, or it's just more convenient to go through, you know, like a bigger accommodation website are exactly a bigger chain, you know, what you're getting, you know, you know, they'll speak English if you're going somewhere further away, or whatever your native language is. Like, is there a ways that you can choose to do activities or book accommodations? In a way that does bring some of that money? More directly to the local community?

Brandee   12:11  
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, so we've covered things to consider, you know, the where you're going the when you're going. And yeah, but also Yeah, the where, how about Yeah, but yeah, like where you're staying on when we you and I traveled to York last summer. Yeah. And that was one thing I was using because it's well yeah, it's convenient and you can all the flight cancellations but they also have a checkbox for like a little green leaf it says was it sustainable travel option? Right I took a bunch of screenshots I think we might I meant to talk about this last summer but I looked into like, what that actually like means to get that certification and it seemed legit I don't know if it's the most legit if there's a little bit of greenwashing going on because people are interested in and more sustainable travel options and but I don't know I mean, like they they like fixed the settings and like our thermostat like you couldn't go over a certain amount it was automatic like when it turned off and if you don't have the key in the room, which is like a common European thing I'm seeing and they I think they had signs about like reusing your towels and you know all things that are good in the right direction and I just still felt better like the bare minimum at least doing something that that did have that little green leaf yeah over some of them I was still with a chain I think it's a it was a technically a part of like the Marriott Hotel Group I think you're around but when we were looking at options like I wanted like a certain like I wanted to be like comfortable and have certain like you know I didn't want to I didn't want to go to Airbnb route I wanted like you know, kind of your company hotel beds and like you know, a common area downstairs see I don't think it's like as of course it's not like always black and white of like anti all changed but like just looking into this types of hotels or staying in do they and one of the main reasons I want to go to London is because the Oh bless you are headphones fellow I

Hannah  14:17  
just need my headphones on right then.

Brandee   14:22  
One of the main reasons I want to go to London is to stay in the good hotel because they like they make an effort to like support, train educate people in the like service industry and yeah, so I think it's a good thing to consider and how can you how can you? How can your money stay as local as possible? If that's a different hotel option, yeah, great like a small like boutique hotel versus a big chain but if that's like the only option for what you're looking for and location and budget

Hannah  15:00  
No, no. Yeah, and I mean, sometimes as well, like, big chains can also be doing the right thing. Yeah. It's true that they're not they're kind of part of bigger systems, but sometimes that does mean they also have the finance to, like, implement kind of, like, schemes on a bigger scale. Yeah, that's a good point. I guess it's like a sort of thing of like, do I trust them? Yeah, in a way where you know, like a smaller place or if it's like an individual it feels more like personalized and you're like, Oh, I like trust this person is individual has, who runs this place has those values, but at the same time, yeah, like big hotels might have more you know, resources to implement certain systems.

Brandee   15:43  
Yeah, they also bigger marketing budget. So yeah, I get that like, stress can come in. Whereas Yeah, smaller boutique hotel might not have the funds to like either get some certain certification or, um, etc. But

Hannah  15:59  
yeah, okay, so

Brandee   16:00  
what else should people consider

Hannah  16:02  
as the chance but one thing I was like, I've already not done with my flights to the the US I hadn't realized I hadn't really thought about it. I was just choosing the cheapest option. And it was saying that you there was much more sustainable to choose nonstop flights. Yeah, because the most energy, most petrol most energy most illusion, I don't know. It's often paraded to takeoff and landing.

Brandee   16:31  
I was trying to fly nonstop or direct. It can be more expensive. So yeah, if you have room on your budget, I think that's a good place to right. To use it.

Hannah  16:42  
Yeah. And then again, unfortunately, trains are often within like for example within Spain, it's often more expensive to get the train than to fly. But again, if you have that room, like that's an option where you can get a train rather than flying

Brandee   16:59  
Yeah, I have an upcoming trip in May and I really wanted to do the train. It's in France within Spain I think I've always done the train well I just enjoy it and it's not that long right? Yeah, I was gonna do this whole like kind of long train travel at least one of the directions but then had all the miles to cover the flights and the timing because I had like a thing the day before I was meant to be in France but then now that's gotten changed since I since I booked of course however is my cat is saying hello so if you hear any noises awake Hi. Yes factors circumstances led me to book these reward miles because the train would have met multiple stops and then like you know booking accommodations because I didn't want to do just one long travel day and also it's exhausting like planning all these different stops telling you yeah

Hannah  17:52  
so there's a really good resource in Europe I don't know if you found this for train travel it's called like the passenger in the seat 6169 61 I think familiar you probably will have come across it basically it's this guy who's like a train nerd basically and loves to train travel ban his website like has like all the information of like for like long distance train travel including you know when you have to like you're going between multiple countries and like he has kind of like the routes for like a lot of journeys already planned. So I remember looking from like Madrid to London and it's like okay, you'd get the like Eurostar from like London to like Paris and then you get this train from like Paris to Barcelona and then you get like Barcelona to Madrid and it's all kind of like and you could if you want you can do like an overstock overnight stop here or here and like it's already kind of like plan for you

Brandee   18:51  
as it were a bit more personalized and like Google Maps directions

Hannah  18:55  
right exactly. And it like you know it also like gives like recommendations of like places to change and like what time of train you need to get and like where to book because obviously if you're going through multiple countries that is like you know you have to go on to like different websites to like booked for different things so that's like a really good resource for anyone who's like wanting to organize like long term train travel

Brandee   19:22  
he has a route routes from Madrid to Lisbon because there are not easy that's John flight routes from here to there

Hannah  19:30  
like starting to look it up I should say that

Brandee   19:32  
we were talking about going right girls weekend but like the the amount of like trains and buses and and I think a lot of them are like local commuter like trains than the time it would take just for like a few days. So I felt like just haven't gone. That's also like well, I have just haven't gone because it's just seems like a headache to get there. But it also feels silly to fly. It's like right there. But just have I'm flying to Paris, France also kind of right there.

Hannah  20:02  
He does have a word, but it's Yeah. Yeah. So it's the man in seat 61.

Brandee   20:07  
Okay, cool. Incredibly,

Hannah  20:09  
there is no direct train between Madrid and Lisbon. I know. Jason EU capitals, which is true. Yeah. They did used to have one. But with COVID that's never come back or

Brandee   20:19  
even like, they were just like one stop. I think that when I've looked, it was like at least two or three.

Hannah  20:25  
Yeah, this is showing this is showing, it would be three trains. But fairly straightforward. I'll send you a link. Okay, cool. But of course, you know, you have to have the time to do that.

Brandee   20:41  
Yeah, so that's the thing. And I was talking to a friend, I think it was yesterday about sorry, my someone in my building is being noisy. That it's a matter of like, you know, working within the system, the existing system. So I guess in this example, how badly do do we want to go to Lisbon? Obviously, badly enough? We haven't gone. So yeah, where

Hannah  21:02  
would we be satisfied somewhere else?

Brandee   21:04  
Exactly. But also, I think, if, if you are set on going to Lisbon to not feel guilty? I don't know. We should. I don't know. Like, if you're really set on going here and you have you know, it's like a bucket list. You know, dream destination. Yeah. Is it okay to set aside that guilt and just get there? You know, right. And like a 40 minute plane ride or whatever it is? Yeah. I that goes back to like, total shame. Like, I'm not I don't know. I don't think that's for me, or us to say, for anyone other than ourselves. Yeah, I don't know. But I think yeah, though, just the shoot, like the mass scale of, of overtourism. In general. Yeah, there's a way to, like, just even slightly shift the mindset. And if that, you know, impacts your trip or one aspect of how you travel, then that is at least a step in the right direction. 

Hannah  21:58  
Yeah. So yeah, I mean, yeah. And especially like, maybe if you, it's hard, because I feel like a lot of my other than this bigger trip, a lot of my trips have been like, quite last minute, which is fine. But I guess if you do have bigger trips that you want. Maybe like, kind of taking your time to do them, like not maybe doing them all in like one year? I don't know, does that make a difference? I guess you're fine on total as the same whether you do it in one year, or like in in three, but maybe that doesn't make a difference? I don't know. Okay, so I was just gonna say, I mean, this might be more of a long term, like solution problem thing. But when I was doing some research, which I hadn't been so aware of, but like having sort of like a setup for like a monthly, there's like Orgonite, like carbon offset, kind of organizations, I guess, where you can sort of be paying like a rolling like monthly donation to like offset carbon emissions that you create, and like maybe having, especially if you know, you're someone who's like a frequent flyer or like traveler, that maybe that can be like a good way to, like, spread out the cost of that as well, rather than, like, if you choose to do carbon offsetting, rather than, like, paying X amount, like for each flight, which can be like, you know, you can sometimes that can be quite expensive. And you're like, yeah, not sure if I can afford, like, you know, it already feels a lot, right. Like when you would just spend like, you know, 600 euros, 800, whatever on a flight, you're like, Oh, God, like, do I really want to add something more to this? So maybe like spreading that cost out throughout the year? And sort of making that commitment? If that's something that you're interested in doing?

Brandee   23:52  
Yeah, like that. I do that monthly through NGO climate, I should do a calculator. And I think you put in how many like about, I think roughly how many flight hours a year and that it calculates your monthly ecology is another one. So we'll link both resources. Go Yeah, but it was go climate neutral, but they've dropped the neutral because they think they need and what we need and want to like go beyond neutral. carbon positive effect. Yeah. So go climate and ecology with an eye. Good play. I think there are UK based. So those are good resources. I mean, I think I had maybe jotted down to do like a specific carbon offset episode. That can be his whole thing. I know we talked about it in the flights. It's a matter of I do it, but it's a matter of like, I know people take the stance of like, you wouldn't have to offset if you just didn't find the first place for example. So obviously, it's better to just reduce what you are. If that's if your individual carbon footprint is important to you. Reducing that is obviously the best option but some We all have an impact if you want to offset what you do contribute to that. Yeah, I don't see it as being a bad thing. I do it once a day. Um, so and I don't know if sometimes the ones you tack on to like the airlines, I think it's worth doing your research into like, where it's actually going. So outside places like go climate and ecology, and they like vet programs and Ryan. So it might actually be more impactful to do it separately from like the airline. Yeah. So just something worth looking into that just a very brief, I can be like a whole, whole other deep dive. You know, people feel strongly about it. Yeah, it can be easy to feel like, I'm offsetting. So I can just go on, like, releasing all of the emissions. And then Yep. And then it always brings me back to like, whose responsibility? Is it to reduce emissions? The individuals? Yeah, you know, fossil fuel companies anyway. Everything is related.

Hannah  25:59  
Yeah. Anything else you do in the planning stage, Brandee?

Brandee   26:04  
Stage? So it's where, where do I want to go? When do I want to go? Why do I want to go? How I'm going to how I'm getting there, where I'm staying while I'm there? And a bit about, yeah, what do I want to do while I'm there, because that I know, we're going to the next stage is like, while you're there. But in bringing that to the planning stage of like, if you know, there are certain things, certain neighborhoods, you want to go to certain, you know, tourist, you know, tick boxes, like the Eiffel Tower or whatever, you know, keep staying in a location that would choosing a location within that city that would be easier to like, see all those places, maybe on foot? Or maybe near trains, etc? So just considering the types of activities you want to do? Yeah. And during that a bit ahead of time, especially if they require like booking hotels or I mean, museums or other? I don't know. Yeah, museum might require booking Good point.

Hannah  27:03  
No, no good point about the location as well. I mean, this has already we've talked about it a bit in like the location, but just like the longer like going to one place, or the longer you stay somewhere is Yeah, more sustainable than like, trying to hit like multiple places on one journey. Yeah. That's exactly what I'm gonna do when I'm in the States. So

Brandee   27:25  
yeah. Thank you, if possible, if you can be in fewer places for longer that is going to have less of an impact, because that's left Yes. Getting to and from, and it's more of a mindset of more of that local mindset versus the tourist mindset. Like, anytime you can like slow down there. I think there's this whole like, slow travel, like movement, and you can share research and find a bunch of stuff. Of just Yeah, I think in general, just slowing down and enjoying the place you're in and thinking of how you can add to it, instead of just taking from it. I'm saying that to myself as much as Yeah, those listening.

Hannah  28:04  
Alright. Yeah. I think that's it for now. Yeah.

Brandee   28:08  
I think yeah, all of these specific things we talked about, there's obviously more of a deep, right, we're making more research you very much done I like it a little. But it's more of like, a way when you're in the planning stage. Yeah, what questions you might want to start asking, and I think, bringing in the why more to help kind of color the rest of it. While you're traveling, right, in general, why this specific place? Why the specific time? That was a really weird squeaking noise. I don't know what that was. But it's very weird sound. And yeah, and obviously, I'm not anti travel. So no. For better or worse, I don't know. It definitely is enriching thing and experiencing other cultures. It's just Yeah, thinking about the how and why a little bit more. And if you can, I don't know plan before you're planning like, if you're not planning a trip right now is even still thinking about these things. And doing like a bit of research and just like having a list ready to go when you do start to plan your next trip. And yeah, so in the next one, we'll talk about how to travel more sustainably while you're actually in a place. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Here, it'll probably be a lot about trying to support as many local things. Yeah, that's like the fun off the planning stages. Fun, too. I was gonna say, that was the fun part. It's all fun. So yeah, yeah. All right, and let us know if there's anything specific you'd like us to cover. By the time this episode is out. Well, we have already recorded that one. I think we might. So yeah, maybe feel free to submit any travel questions you might have. Yeah, as a comment or a voice note. On the show notes for this episode. The tea on sustainable 28 are just ways you've incorporated a bit more sustainable travel or environmentally friendly travel YEAH. OH feature in an upcoming episode even if we will have already recorded the the wire there episode. Yeah, anything else? No, that sounds great. All right, do the next one. Bye

Hannah  30:21  
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Tea on Sustainable Living podcast. Now go share it with a friend, a co-worker, a partner, a family member, or whoever. A pet, your cat, someone on the street.

Brandee   30:33  
Whoever you think could use a little more support on their sustainability journey, share it.

Hannah  30:39  
You can send them over to our website, And while you're there, check out the show notes for more info on today's topic. 

Brandee   30:49  
All right, Give-a-Shitter, tea you later. Get it? Tea you later? As in, see you later? So punny…

Hannah  30:56  

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