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A Green Adventure: How to have a fun, Green Holiday

Date:16 May 2023
Author:Green Office
Author - Larisa-Maria Tarziu
Author - Larisa-Maria Tarziu

Are you looking for a fun vacation for the summer? Traveling doesn’t have to come with waste, pollution, and expensive hotels. If you don’t know the options for a fun, adventurous, environmentally-aware trip, Larisa will share her experience in this blog. With a big passion for traveling in nature, she will inspire you with ideas by sharing the story of her adventure.

After the removal of Covid restrictions, the tourism industry faced the foreshadowed boom. From skiing in the Alps to a city break in Barcelona, students save up with part-time jobs to get to their desired destinations for a life-changing experience. However, not often do we ask ourselves: how do our vacations impact the environment? Approximately 10% of global CO2 emissions are caused by the travel sector, plane travel being the number one cause.

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My first self-organized trip was in high school. Dead set on seeing a beautiful waterfall on the other side of my home country (Romania), I planned a 10-day trip to connect every natural monument on the way to that waterfall. I had a low budget which coincidentally made my trip very sustainable at a time when I never heard about the concept of ‘ecotourism’. How did I get there and what made my trip so sustainable? How to plan your own eco-friendly adventure? Find out this and more tips as I walk you through what I learned from my first unforgettable eco-trip.

Visit your surroundings

It is needless to say that the carbon footprint becomes larger the further you travel. Pinpoint the natural parks and cultural heritages closest to you on the map, those are also the places where you can get easy access to local products, and engaging with the community will give you great satisfaction. If you are a city-lover, you can check the cities ranked as Green Capitals. For now, the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is in the lead. You will not visit all the cities in the world, isn’t it better to choose one that shares your green values?

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Where to sleep?

If you are a risk-taker you can arrive earlier at your destination and ask locals for good accommodation. Most of the time, they will recommend you their friends and family's places and will be very grateful for your stay. You'll get to know the people, get a cheaper stay, and if you're lucky you'll get a taste of a home-made traditional meal. However, this strategy will not work in highly frequented places and it’s very recommended to have basic knowledge about the local culture and language.

On the other hand, if you like your plans to be predictable, I suggest you dedicate some time to finding a more rustic, family-tradition type of location, greener than most large hotel chains.

Engage with nature

Hiking, climbing, diving, sailing, and camping are only hand-few activities popular among naturalists. Engaging with all forms of nature gives you incredible satisfaction and you’ll never get bored. My take is to always look for small businesses that offer entertaining services depending on the landscape. If you're next to a river look for rafting companies. If you are hiking through rocky mountains look for tours in the nearby caves. Getting a horseback riding trip in the mountains is not only something on National Geographic! At the end of the day, getting a boat tour with a local fisherman will feel similar to that jet ski you have been dreaming of.

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I often check the European Youth website for opportunities to engage in the local, rural communities, for organic farming or sustainability. This allows me to have a free vacation with included meals and “learning-by-doing” opportunities. You can choose to teach children how to protect their environment or litter-pick on the beach. WWOOF is also a famous movement that allows you to travel for cheap to Organic Farms and bring your contribution.

Travel creatively

Your transport has the highest impact on your journey. Of course, locally you can travel by bike or public transport. You will find your way in the most unexpected ways by being creative. On my way to the waterfall, I got picked up by the driver of a school bus. I even traveled with a van that was bringing miners to work. These are necessary journeys for locals and you will not generate extra emissions.

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For long-distances, I choose the train as much as the time allows. On your way, you can genuinely figure out what being present means and find your inspiration. You can also use shared cars with Bla Bla car or hitchhiking. Flix- Bus could be an option as well. Their company saves 366% CO2 compared to the same journey by car.

I think that you are ready for your first adventure! Pack only the essentials, buy the train tickets, call those locals, and be on your way! 

About the waterfall…I never made it there. The best part about a destination is the many journeys that can bring you there.

Hi! I am Larisa, a bachelor’s student in Behaviour and Neurosciences, with many temporary niche hobbies like roller skating, guitar, and jujitsu. I moved to Groningen from Transilvania, a romanian region mostly known for the vampires and castles, but for me, the place where I fell in love with nature. I connected to the woods, the mountains, the fields, and the animals during the weekends spent with my grandfather in the village. Later, I discovered my love for wandering in nature: hiking, swimming, camping, and observing. As I grew old enough, I returned to the villages trying to teach children how to protect and grow alongside nature. Of course, like every teaching experience, I eventually learned a lot more from them, as local communities have generations of knowledge behind them. No matter the background, I believe that everyone should pay attention to our environment, and from the perspective of a neuroscience and behaviour student with an ecology background, I like to look at how we integrate into our environment, how we change it, and how it changes us.