Welcome to the first Travel Series post. This part one of ten is here to help you travel more efficiently, ethically and economically. Part one is all about ethical flying, but future posts within the series include tips for banking while abroad, sim cards, packing advice and more!

Now. Realistically, I ummed and arred whether to still publish this, given no-one can actually fly anywhere right now. However, in a hypothetical world where things do go back to how they were, then this would be extremely relevant. Thus, I persevered. Still with me? Great, let’s get into it!

From a responsible travel perspective I thought it might be a good idea to be more explicit about how we travel and why we fly. Even when we regard ourselves as ethical travellers.

For starters, I live in australia, so what are my options if I want to travel abroad? The fact is, options are limited to cruise liners or flying. Cruise liners create three times more waste than flying does – bummer! So yes, we need to fly if we intend to travel.

Okay, we know flying is MORE ethical than cruise liners.

But it’s still not a clean mode of transport.

We know we can at least make flying more ethical simply from our choices. Firstly, we always fly in economy class (except for this one time). This is because business class uses more waste per person due to services provided and the space passengers take up overall. Taking up more space means more fuel is required per person. Overall, carbon emissions per passenger, per kilometer are about three times higher for business class passengers.

Along with flying economy, we also travel with carry-on luggage.

By travelling as a minimalist we contribute to a lighter aircraft and by flying on a lighter aircraft, less fuel is required and less Co2 is released. To ensure we fly as ethically as possible, we use our own cutlery and napkins (when meals are provided) in order to contribute less waste headed for landfill.


So, how do we book flights?

First we look at our options via flight aggregator sites to find the best connections. Basically, we look for the best airlines doing the least expensive and MOST direct route. It’s paramount that we fly direct, where possible, even if it’s more expensive.

I’ve heard horror stories of people whose aim it is to fly from London to Sydney, who end up flying via Paris, then Brussels and eventually Singapore just to save a few bucks. Even though it probably took them twice as long to get there. We would never book a flight with multiple stopovers even if it saves us cash. Not only is it worse for the environment because most Co2 is released during take off and landing, but it’s also not valuing our time.

virgin airlines

Something to think about before committing to your flight is the airline.

Thanks to advancements in aircraft technology, newer planes produce 25% less emissions. This is due to upgraded engines that burn less fuel, aerodynamic wings as well as using lightweight materials that require less maintenance.

Three aircrafts that have this technology include the A321Neo, A350 XWB and Dreamliner 787. Just a few (but not all) airlines that are currently flying these are: Virgin Australia (well, this is awkward), Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Jetstar, Vietnam Airlines and Etihad Airways.

If you’re a little too preoccupied to be doing extensive research on the different types of aircrafts, fear not. Skyscanner now calculates carbon-efficient fares by aircraft type, seat capacity and number of stopovers per flight. Just look for the green leaf!

It’s good to see the aviation industry finally committing to a more ethical air travel. But, to go one step further, known airlines who are contributing to even greener air travel are Qantas, AirNZ, HiFly and Virgin. These airlines are combatting the effect of single-use plastics and waste in general by:

  • partnering with degradable cutlery providers (Virgin)
  • donating food waste to non for profit OzHarvest (Virgin)
  • offsetting domestic flights on their passengers behalf (AirFrance)
  • or eliminating them all together (HiFly, Qantas, AirNZ)

I thought long and hard about removing Virgin Australia from this article given their recent financial woes. There’s something telling me it’s not the last we’ll see of them.

After we’ve found the right flight, we then head to the airline’s website to book direct. We would never book through an agent (online or otherwise) because of their savage terms and conditions, their inefficient customer service and often hidden commissions.

qantas airlines

On our year abroad, we decided to book our flights on the go, which means we’ve booked a continuum of one way flights.

Round the World (RTW) Vs One Way (OW)? We tossed up this ultimate question a few times before we left Australia.

Round the world (RTW) tickets are good for a few reasons:

More economical overall
Airline perks
Means your travels are pre-organised

But for us, not knowing exactly what our route was going to be, we found the disadvantages outweighing the advantages, such as:

Inability to book flights more than 330 days in advance (this meant date changes were inevitable)
We didn’t want to rely on an agent after being burned by poor customer service in the past
We had no idea where we wanted to travel without set dates to be anywhere, we needed flexibility
There wasn’t one airline alliance that was travelling to all of the destinations we were interested in
Its arguable whether the price would have been more/less expensive given date changes and fees were inevitable
flying above clouds

Do we offset?

The truth = sometimes. It depends on the flight, the airline and the aircraft.

Want more? This article is IN-CREDIBLY detailed should you want to learn more about eco-friendly flying! Let me know what you think.

Do you have any other tips for ethical flying?

Part Two coming up next week!

Until then xo

Let me know what you think....