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Grouping with other travelers can make a big difference in reducing your travel carbon footprint. There are some serious environmental benefits of backpacking, so here some ideas to enjoy your trip to Australia & New Zealand.
There are a lot of personal benefits to solo traveling: you learn more about yourself, get to choose your own path, don’t have to answer to anyone else, etc. Something that solo travel doesn’t benefit, however, is the environment. In fact, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by grouping up with other travellers.
This is especially true for solo backpackers in Australia and New Zealand. In both of these countries, working holiday visas are extremely popular. These visas let foreigners work and travel in Australia and New Zealand for up to a year or longer. As a result, holidaymakers on these visas often buy or rent cars (or campers) to help them get around the country to find work.
Solo travel could be coming back sooner than we think, and with both countries slowly preparing for borders to reopen on a limited basis, this is a great time as any to go over the environmental benefits of backpacking Australia and New Zealand with travel companions.
How bad is the problem?
It’s estimated that the overall contribution to global warming from the tourism industry is around 5.2-12.5%
If you break this down even further, it’s estimated that about 72% of the CO2 emissions from tourism come from transportation and 24% come from accommodations. Solo travellers can significantly reduce their emissions by travelling with others.
How can travelers reduce their carbon footprint
You can reduce your fuel usage
As a solo traveller, if you buy or rent a car and drive it by yourself, you’re simply wasting fuel. It’s a lot more fuel-efficient, and cheaper for that matter, for you to find travel mates to share your trips with.
For example, let’s say you plan on taking 5 long road trips around Australia. If you find two other people to go on each trip, and drive on an average of 1200 miles (1930 kms) per trip, instead of using 15 vehicles for 15 different trips, as a group you will only use one-third of this.
Now, if you calculate the numbers based on an average gasoline car, each car emits 771 lbs Co2e. By grouping up and sharing vehicles, you will be able to reduce your carbon footprint by 7,710 lbs CO2e over these 5 trips.
You can reduce your electricity usage
If you’re going to share your car with other travellers, you can also share your accommodation with them as well. Whether you book a hotel room or a vacation rental, there’s always room for you to share.
Most hotels can comfortably sleep 4, and even the smallest vacation rentals can fit two people. Even if you share your accommodation with just one other person, as a pair, you can cut the amount of electricity you use in half for every night you share an accommodation.
You can reduce the amount of waste by travelling in a motorhome
The previous two examples are applicable in most countries. You can rideshare and split accommodations almost anywhere. Motorhomes, on the other hand, aren’t as commonly used around the world as they are in Australia and New Zealand. Travellers who are backpacking in Australia and New Zealand, will often buy camper vans or RVs to get around the country.
As mentioned before, a lot of backpackers in these two countries are on working holiday visas, which are valid for up to a year or longer. In order to save money, holidaymakers will buy an RV or campervan to avoid spending on nightly accommodations.
Campsites in both New Zealand and Australia have strict rules about waste disposal. Both countries have responsible freedom camping programs which let you camp for free in a tent, or motorhome, on public land.
New Zealand has over 500 freedom camping locations, each with different rules and regulations. In Australia, freedom camping isn’t as prevalent, but you will still find several free or very cheap designated camping sites.
The rules for freedom camping are simple:
- Dispose of your rubbish responsibly and ensure that all waste is removed and that the campsite is clean for the next visitors.
- Always use a public toilet or, if you have one, the one in your vehicle.
- Protect the environment by recycling and use the designated bins when they are available.
- If you are travelling in a motorhome that has a toilet and other wastewater, make sure to dump them at the designated dump stations.
When you travel this way, you are automatically forced to think about your waste more consciously. You want to produce as little as possible, because not only will it be better for the environment, but it’s just easier for you to deal with as well.
Additionally, (this one’s a no brainer) if you’re a solo traveller you can reduce your carbon footprint, even more, when you find travel companions to share your motorhome’s fuel and electricity with.
How can you find people to travel with?
The crux of this whole article relies on you finding travel companions. So what if you can’t find anyone to travel with? You can try using online travel forums, subreddits, or Facebook groups to find others around you to connect with. Staying in hostels is also a great way to meet other solo travellers in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Or, you can find a travel buddy using a personal favourite app of mine, it’s called GAFFL! 😉
With GAFFL you can connect with travellers from over 170 countries, so you won’t ever have to worry about travelling alone.