Green Business Travel for Frequent Business Travelers

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Green business travel – When you travel for work or pleasure, it’s important to consider your impact.

Here are simple tips for green business travel.

Before I left my job to travel to Argentina, I traveled several times a month for work.

While I enjoyed seeing new places, meeting new people, and sampling local foods, I felt guilty about the impact my frequent business travel had on the planet.

green business travel

photo credit: vipeido

Thus, I did everything I could to be a greener business traveler.

Here are some of my business travel hacks:

Green business travel Hacks

Teleconference

Before you decide a business trip is absolutely necessary, check first to see if a teleconference could happen in place of meeting in person.

Sometimes the people you are working with are just as happy to have a tele- or video- conference and it saves you time and expense while having less environmental impact.

Take the Train or Bus

If you can, take a bus or train, instead of an airplane, to your destination.

I took the Acela fast train from Washington, D.C. to New York several times.

It was less of a hassle (no security lines, easier to get to, fewer delays) and a fun way to see the East Coast.

Fly Nonstop

When a train isn’t an option, fly nonstop.

You reduce your emissions by up to 50% with nonstop travel.

Schedule Trips Back-to-Back

If you have several different cities to travel to, schedule the trips back to back.

While this can get tiring, you will save time and resources by not flying home in between.

Take Public Transportation to Get Around

Once your at your destination, take public transportation to get around.

In many cities taking the subway or metro can be faster than a cab inching through traffic.

Public transportation has come a long way, and it’s a great way to travel.

Hop in an EcoCab

Most major cities now have hybrid taxis and eco cabs.

If you must take a taxi, see if this is an option.

Share Transportation

If you’re traveling with co-workers, schedule your travel at the same time so that you can share taxi rides or rental cars.

Select a Hybrid Rental Car

If renting a car is the only option that makes sense, get a hybrid rental car.

The prices usually fall within a company’s per diem and you can justify it with gas savings.

Stay in a Green Hotel

Green hotels are a great option for business travel.

I personally like the Kimpton Hotel chain. Learn about LEED and green hotels for the best options.

Green your Stay

How Online Learning Helps Green Travelers Stay Green

When staying at a hotel, do everything you can to use fewer resources.

This includes hanging your towel, adjusting the thermostat, and turning off the lights.

Bring a Water Bottle

You know how much I love my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle and insulated stainless steel water bottles.

They are sleek enough for professional settings.

Another option is to reuse your disposable water bottle several times over the course of a short business trip.

Carry One Bag

If you’re a frequent business traveler you probably having packing in one bag down to a science, but if not, check out our tips for packing light.

How to Travel Green in 4 Easy Steps

Understand Why You Should Travel Green.

You’re probably not going to want to learn how to travel green if you don’t know why you should.

We believe that you should travel responsibly because it’s good for the environment, it’s good for local economies, and it’s good for you.

Sustainable Adventures: How I’ve Decided to Travel and Protect the Planet!

Check out these posts for more about why you should travel green:

31 Reasons to Travel Green: In Pictures

15 Reasons to Travel Green

Recall the basic principle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

In it’s simplest form, the answer to “How do I travel green?”

Can be summed up with the phrase: “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

When it comes to being a green traveler you will generally focus on reducing your impact where ever you go.

But, it’s just as important to reuse and recycle whenever you can.

photo credit: e-magic

Know the Categories Where You Can Reduce.

Generally, you can reduce your impact in Transportation, Lodgings, Food and Restaurants, and Activities.

By being aware of these categories, you can systematically go through your travel plans and green them.

While Traveling, Commit to Minimizing Your Impact in These Areas.

Check out some of our favorite posts about minimizing your impact.

It’s really quite easy to travel responsibly. And frankly, it’s fun.

You meet lots of new people and see plenty of new sights that you wouldn’t otherwise.

As we continue on with this series we’ll go into more details about how to travel green, like how to make a green travel plan or about green vacation planning.

Not sure where to start?

Favorite Things About Green Travel

Eco-conscious travel is great because it benefits the environment, but there’s also a more selfish advantage to it.

Whether you’re journeying across the world or to a neighboring region in your own country, traveling green can enhance your overall experience.

Here are my top five favorite things about environmentally-friendly travel.

Food.

I struggle to be a vegetarian (and often fail) when I travel because I believe that to fully experience a culture or destination, you should try local foods — even foods you might not ever eat at home.

Sampling cuisines that people in the area you’re visiting have been eating for hundreds, even thousands, of years will give you insight into the culture and enhance your travel experience.

Plus, you’ll support local business and eat locally grown and raised food, which is better for the economy and the environment.

Drink.

I love trying locally produced beverages for the same reasons I enjoy indulging in local foods.

With alcohol, it’s fun to see where the locals drink and what the vibe is like.

And it helps that I always feel more comfortable striking up conversation with strangers after I’ve had a drink or two.

Goods.

Perusing the local market is always fun, even if I don’t buy anything.

I enjoy seeing crafts the locals create, and have been creating for generations.

Plus, you can interact with the people — farmers and craftsmen alike — whose goods you’re buying, which is an interaction that can be harder to come by in the U.S.

Remember, wherever in the world you are, to only buy sustainable souvenirs.

People.

By staying in hostels and locally owned lodging, taking public transportation, and dining in non-chain restaurants, you get to know other travelers and locals.

Being an environmentally-conscious traveler gives you almost limitless opportunities to strike up conversations with people you may never have met staying in a huge hotel, or traveling by car.

Nature.

There’s no experience quite like hiking through the mountains and looking down over electric blue Moraine Lake in Canada, or swimming under a waterfall at the top of a mountain in Belize.

I think one of the best ways to experience any destination is on foot or bike — you’re close to the land, where you can observe details, rather than whizzing by them in a bus or car.
green business travel

Green business travel is easy

Business travel can take you anywhere.

It’s your responsibility to be as green as you can be getting there, getting back and during your stay.

Hopefully you will find green business travel is easy to continue while you are back at home.

Green Transportation ~ 4 Principles to Help You Choose

How do you go about choosing green transportation when thousands of websites have launched carbon emissions calculators?

Often these sites only lead to more questions, like.

How do you choose the most eco-friendly route?

Does a bus, plane, train, boat/ship, or car emit less carbon?

And why do some sites say that flying produces fewer carbon emissions than driving?

Basically, how can you be more green on the road?

These are all valid questions.

When I started researching carbon footprints, I was astounded by the widely varying results I got from different carbon footprint calculators.

Therefore, to help you choose the most environmentally-friendly form of transport, I’ve put together 4 principles for choosing green transportation.

Ways to Choose Green Transportation

These principles rest on the basic assumption that you cannot realistically walk or bike to your destination.

Test an Emissions / Carbon Footprint Calculator

The first step to choosing an option for green transportation to reduce your carbon footprint is to do some basic research.

There are numerous carbon calculators available online and Climate Outreach and Information Network has put together a list of the best carbon calculators.

In the transportation/travel category they rank the following as top air and land travel calculators.

Top 5 Air Travel Calculators

Resurgence.org
Chooseclimate.org
MSN.com
Coinet.org.uk (author note: I can’t find the actual calculator on this website)
Nef.org.uk

Top 5 Land Travel Calculators

Resurgence.org
Co2balance.com
Carbonfootprint.com
Carbonbalanced.org
Clevel.co.uk

I personally like Choose Climate because it allows you to enter the type of ticket and plane, but it’s not the prettiest of the calculators.

Or if you like visuals you might like this calculator by the UK’s Transport Direct.

However, when considering this calculator read the next three principles.

green transportation photo credit: Redvers

Be a Skeptic

Let’s face it, there’s money to be made in the world of “green.”

And many of the organizations that offer carbon calculators offer them for just that purpose – $$$.

Moreover, while calculating carbon emissions should be an exact science, no one seems to have perfected it yet.

One of the reasons this variation occurs is because calculators differ in their assumptions of size of plane, number of passengers, coach/first class, number of stops, and one-way or return flight.

Because of the possible ulterior motives and the lack of precision in calculators, don’t immediately make your transportation decision on the results of a single calculator.

Consider the Impact of Flying High

Another piece of the puzzle when considering green transportation is the difference in carbon emissions on the ground versus in the air.

Planes fly higher in the atmosphere, thus their emissions are much harsher on the environment.

Oxford University estimates that “the full climate impact of aviation is deemed to be between 2 and 4 times greater than CO2 alone.”

Use Common Sense

The bottom line is, use your best judgment.

Trying to consider ways for green transportation is a great first step.

A train is going to be better than a bus which will be better than a car which will be better than a plane.

And the more people that fit into these vehicles the better.

You also need to think about what makes sense for your location.

Going from Washington, D.C. to New York City via Amtrak is reasonable for most people (in terms of the time the trip takes), but going from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco on a train isn’t realistic for many folks.

In the end, you have to weigh your personal wants and needs against your impact on the environment.

Traveling Green to Your Favorite Gaming Conventions

Many people who enjoy gaming want to take their passion to the road and visit as many gaming conventions as possible, or at least those that interest them the most.

But gaming conventions take place all around the world and travelling extensively or even a little can involve leaving a significant carbon footprint impact upon the environment, so how can green gamer’s travel to their favorite gaming conventions?

Getting around gaming conventions

If you are relatively local to a gaming convention, then travelling to the venue in an ecologically-friendly manner should not cause too much of a problem.

You could take a bicycle ride to the event if you feel you are fit enough and have confidence to travel on busy roads.

You could also work out alternative routes that take you through back roads and countryside which may make your journey one of discovery as well as of fun.

Not only will you be exercising by cycling to your local gaming convention, but you will leave virtually no carbon footprint on the world.

If you do not feel comfortable in working out your own route, then see if there are any bike tour companies who can guide you.

But what if your favorite gaming convention is a way away?

Perhaps you really want to go to Blizzcon in Anaheim, CA, the convention created by Bobby Kotick and his company Activision Blizzard, who have created some of the most diverse and engaging video games on the planet and who founded the charity Call of Duty Endowment, but you do not live anywhere near there?

By the way, it is a big year for BlizzCon as it is the convention’s tenth anniversary and the twenty-fifth anniversary for Blizzard.

But anyway, cycling to the convention is probably asking a bit much, but if you do have to drive, perhaps you could rent or invest in a low carbon vehicle, such as an electric car.

If you become the owner of an electric car, it is highly likely you will be entitled to some incentives during the purchase process, and will have far lower running costs in terms of fuel.

The key to getting the most economically out of an electric car is to maintain a fairly constant speed and it also reduces your carbon footprint.

If, on the other hand, the gaming convention you want to attend is abroad, then you have two main options: either to fly or to go by sea.

Air travel is notorious for being a huge polluter, but there are some ways you can make a contribution to lowering the carbon footprint.

For example, you can fly economy class, and this lowers your carbon footprint because more people are able to travel in the one airplane, so the damage is spread.

You could also work out if you need to travel the whole distance to the gaming convention by plane.

Could you, for example, take a short flight to an area that has good road connections and perhaps cycle the rest of the way?

Going by sea to a gaming convention is perhaps something of a luxury choice, as it will undoubtedly take longer to travel and you may well ask how that is good for lowering carbon footprints.

The only way this is so is if you consider travelling on smaller boats rather than the usual floating palaces that are cruise ships.

If time and money is not a consideration for you when travelling to a gaming convention abroad, perhaps in Europe, you could take the opportunity to work in a vacation and see something of the countries you pass by, as well as getting up close and personal with wildlife.

If you are planning on attending a number of gaming conventions in Europe, you could ditch the car and the plane and travel by train or even bus.

Both trains and buses are considered to be much more energy efficient than other motorized forms of travel, and can have the added advantage of having quicker journey times because you do not have to factor in the time spent at airports getting through security and waiting at the dreaded baggage carousel.

If you care about the impact we humans have on our planet, but do not want to give up attending gaming conventions wherever they may be in the world, then you can find ways to travel to them that are environmentally friendly, and which may even be better for your finances.

9 thoughts on “Green Business Travel for Frequent Business Travelers”

  1. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for those wonderful tips on traveling. I especially liked the suggestion of traveling back to back in a continuous circuit instead of having to come back home. That’s in fact a very good idea. If our schedules are close enough, we could really make it a very practical way of cutting down on travel a lot. Its also a very green thing to do.

    Great tips!
    Joost Hoogstrate

  2. Instead of buying video conferencing equipment you can hire public rooms by the hour. My company uses these guys .
    Saves us flying to meetings and the HR department regularly interview this way.

  3. Thanks for the useful hints and tips. Great article and some great tips.

    Please contact me if I could reprint it on my site (with the link to your site of course)

  4. 95% of business travelers said that they think hotels should be making more of an effort to be eco friendly; it’s great that the business world is becoming a huge part of the green movement.

  5. There are also a lot of green gadgets you can bring with you while you travel to make your business traveling more green. I wrote an article on four of my favorites:

  6. I think this post is brilliant. Being green is just so important and although on stressful business trips being green might be the last thing on you mind these changes to your routine can be made and you are making a difference. Great stuff!

    Cheers Erin

  7. Hi Elizabeth,
    Sad but true, we’ve just started to see requests for our sustainable practices and policies in RFPs. Do you have something similar to the above blog that’s more recent than July 2009?

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