📗 Green Travel Manual

A manual to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of our business travel. This is a wiki. Please contribute to it by adding the information and experiences you might have.

Content

1. Staying at home

2. Staying on the ground

3. Flying thoughtfully

4. Making the most of your journey

5. Compensating emissions


1. Staying at home

Edgeryders is a service company with minimal office facilities and no obligation of physical presence (no one has to commute). Our greenhouse gas emissions come from our use of computers and Internet and from business travel. It is safe to say that business travel accounts for the lion’s share. This manual is meant to help us reduce these emissions, but may also offer inspirations for other organizations to do the same.

1.1. Do you really need to travel?

In general, we do not recommend you travel just to have meetings, exchange words or other information. Valid reasons to travel can include, however:

  • Serendipity. If you want to work closely with certain people and to spend time together without an agenda, bouncing ideas around as they come: that’s something that is hard to replace with online tools, as it is a lot about having enough time together to catch mutual creative moments. Such a time would be a substantial investment; think two weeks or more of living close, not just of sitting in the same office.

  • Study visits. Spending a substantial amount of time in a different place to get to know a group, their problems, their way of working or a set of physical artifacts (let’s say, architecture) can hardly be replaced with digital communication. Short study visits (say, less than a week) can often be replaced with video interviews, videos sent as documentation material and the like.

  • Physical work. Non-digital work cannot be performed through digital communication tools. Sometimes you can replace your involvement with somebody living closer to the target destination. Sometimes the work is not important enough as the only reason to travel. Sometimes you’ll have to travel.

1.2. How to avoid traveling

You can replace most meetings with a blend of conference calls, written interaction via this forum, and other asynchronous collaboration tools. We explore this topic in detail in its own manual:

For some people, nomadic living is also a possible way to avoid at least half of the traveling – namely the return journeys. Everyone with a place-independent job can technically do this. The challenge is usually how to square this with partnership and family. Traveling nomadically with your partner would have the same emissions as traveling solo but with a return journey. However, nomads also have much more time to travel so can choose a carbon-neutral mode of traveling, which is carbon neutral even when traveling with a partner (sailing ship or cargo ship, or even bicycle). Alternatively, if you can manage a long-distance relationship then a temporary nomad life (of some months at a time) might be for you.

2. Staying on the ground

Why it matters

Air travel entails much higher CO2 emissions per kilometer than overland or sea travel:

In 2018, [global passenger aviation] CO₂ emissions totalled […] 744 Mt, for 8.2 trillion revenue passenger kilometres: an average fuel economy of 90.7 g/RPK CO₂ […] (3.61 L/100 km […] per passenger) […] For a comparison with ground transportation […] a Volvo bus 9700 averages 0.41 L/100 km […] per seat for 63 seats. In highway travel an average auto has the potential for 1.61 L/100 km […] per seat (assuming 4 seats)

(source: Wikipedia: Fuel economy in aircraft)

In addition, “the […] IPCC estimated that aviation’s total climate [heating] impact is some two to four times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone” (source).

So whenever possible, we propose to use surface travel.

Multi-mode planning tools

  • Rome2Rio is a multi-mode journey planner. This is meant to be a connection research tool, informing you about the timetable regularities (“every 2 hours two days a week” etc.). For booking, it’s a bit confusing as you have to select and book each leg of your journey separately. However, it is the best surface travel planner becuase: it covers train, bus and ferry connections all over the planet, shows an overlay map of all of these, and as the only tool also shows journeys on separate tickets (“self-connected journeys”) such as combinations of privately operated coaches and public trains.

  • Omio (formerly GoEuro) runs simultaneous searches for trains, buses and flights. You can then pick your favorite travel mode by clicking on a tab. It includes ticket booking directly on the site. In practice, it does not seem to be particularly strong on finding train itineraries.

  • From A to B is a multi-mode journey planner for Germany. In Germany, it includes trains (incl. Flixtrain), buses and BlaBlaCar car pooling.

    It is (so far) of limited use outside Germany beyond flight search, as it lacks lots of train timetables there. Also, it does not show journeys that need separate tickets, which makes it pretty useless as a multi-mode journey planner. For example, it will find single-ticket journeys that include Flixbus and Flixtrain, but not journeys that include Flixbus and Deutsche Bahn trains as these would be two separate tickets.

2.1. Trains

Planning tools

Rail travel is relaxing and comfortable almost anywhere in Europe. Unfortunately, the degree of integration between the ticketing facilities of different railway companies is still limited – forget about the full interoperability of airlines. Despite this, the quality of intermediary services is growing rapidly.

  • (Also see above for multi-mode planning tools beyond “just trains”.)

  • Rail Europe (formerly Loco2) allows to plan and buy rail trips across multiple European countries. It has the most comprehensive coverage for a rail booking site so far (according to @alberto). Its timetable data come from Deutsche Bahn though, and it seems to not “know more” than the Deutsche Bahn website when it comes to just finding connections. It’s also supposed to find bus connections, but that is probably limited to the UK.

  • Deutsche Bahn Reiseauskunft can be used as a comprehensive search engine for all European rail connections. You can only book tickets there where at least one end is in Germany, though.

  • Railtic is a search engine: it can find train rides, but won’t sell them to you.

  • The Trainline makes you compare and book train and bus tickets for many railway companies in Europe, using your loyalty cards and buying tickets at (they say) even cheaper prices. @ilaria is happy with it.

For purchasing the actual tickets, Seat61 has a handy guide to buying tickets for European trains online. Spoiler: it really matters who you buy from.

Operators, fidelity programs

The reality of European rail travel is that each international trip will consist of several legs, each ran by different companies. There seems to be nothing comparable to Skyteam or Star Alliance in airlines. This leaves us with a maze of (national) railcards, rail passes, fidelity programs etc., in addition also many small non-national rail operators. There are some serious opportunities here. For now, we collect random tips in the section below :slight_smile:

  • Deutsche Bahn issues Bahncards that look attractive if you are doing a lot of your travels in Germany.

  • Flixtrain is the sister company of Flixbus. It does not simply resell train seats, it actually runs a small network of its own trains, for now limited to some cities in Germany. It promises trains running fully on renewable energy.

  • Avlo: Spanish low cost high-speed rail service launched in January 2020. It is run by the Spanish national railway company Renfe.

Interrail

Interrail passes are promising. The international ones (“Global Pass”) start at 257 EUR for 4 days that can be chosen flexibly within a month. Much more research is needed in this area. For now, here’s a list of tips we found helpful regarding Interrail use.

  • Coverage. What is great about Interrail, is that the global pass also covers travel with several bus companies and ferries in Europe. In general, you will need to pay additional fees for travelling with high-speed trains like the TGV, or with any train that requires a seat reservation for “normal” passengers.

  • Flexibility. The great thing about Interrail is not just cost savings but the flexibility you get. For long international journeys, that kind of flexibility is required because “something will go wrong” and otherwise make your following train tickets worthless and a case of wasted money. You can get flexible tickets directly from train operators, but these would be really expensive then – for example, a single journey Frankfurt/Main – Catania is 300 EUR, making Interrail worth it just for these two travel days.

    With Interrail, you are required to pay seat reservation fees (usually 10 EUR) for certain trains, but you can do that shortly before departure as it will always cost the same and trains are rarely fully booked. So you don’t potentially waste money on these reservations compared to booking a super-saver normal ticket months in advance and then not being able to embark on that journay due to a delay of the previous train operator.

  • Ticket delivery. Tickets are delivered in paper form via DHL Express from a fulfillment center in Ireland, so it’s pretty fast and reliable. Experiences: ticket ordered Monday 17:00, shipped Tuesday 16:00, received Wednesday 10:00 in central Germany. The official delivery time estimate given at the time of ordering was 8 days later.

  • The Interrail app. It allows you not only to plan your journey from A to B, but also to filter on routes covered by the Interrail pass, and on those not needing an additional reservation on top of the Interrail pass. This enables you to travel with trains that do not require any additional fees or administrative actions. Of course, that means that it might cost you a bit more time to arrive on your destination. You can however also opt to buy a reservation and go on high-speed / intercity trains.

  • Unused travel days as a perk. You can use Interrail as a perk for company staff: if you are traveling a lot in a given month and it makes sense to buy an Interrail pass rather than just tickets, you get to keep your Interrail pass when you are done with company-related travel. So, go ahead and take that holiday break, the train ticket is paid for!

2.2. Buses

European bus travel. Bus travel has upgraded a lot in Europe in recent years. You can now expect onboard toilets, good seats, wifi and power sockets, and bus service to most medium-sized cities. The landscape of bus travel is even more fragmented than that of rail travel. Some operators are micro companies that only offer one or two long-distance lines.

  • Flixbus is a German startup vying for dominance in Europe via subcontracting to many small companies. They have a good network centered on Germany, with destinations from Oslo to Paris, Milan and Kiev. Best coverage outside of Germany seems to be in the Netherlands and Central and Eastern Europe, but also extending down to Italy.

    In the Flixbus route map, everything with 0 or 1 transfers is considered a “connection”. Neither that map (after selecting your start location) nor the Flixbus search will offer journeys with 2 or more transfers, but you can of course concatenate two journeys that you find separately. Also, there seems to be no overview map of direct Flixbus connections anywhere. That is however needed to find intermodal trips with low probabilities of delays by minimizing changeovers. The only option so far seems to be choosing a starting point and making guesses in the map which destinations will be direct or not, then checking in the search.

    To travel even more cheaply with them, you can purchase discounted Flixbus vouchers on eBay – or sell your own there in case you don’t need them. To keep your vouchers from expiring after 12 months, you can use them to purchase a trip an cancel it right afterwards, which results in a new voucher for the trip price less a 1 EUR cancellation fee.

  • BlaBlaBus is a new coach service set up by ridesharing platform BlaBlaCar. Provides bus connections within Europe.

2.3. Cars

Ride sharing platforms. @nadia likes French startup BlablaCar. They are the most widely used platform in most of Europe, esp. including Germany.

Hitchhiking. Also of course, there is the age-old tradition of hitchhiking, and its widespread resurgence could save a lot of emissions. For those who want to try, see Hitchwiki, the hitchhiker’s manual.

Car travel. If you have to travel and there is no better option, then car travel is still better than flying if at least three people travel in an average car (source). This means, offer your journey on ride sharing platforms to find co-travelers, or where this is impossible, use a very small car.

The choice of car matters. Electric cars would be great, but are not yet practical for all long journeys. There are other options as well. CNG powered cars produce 35% less CO2 per passenger kilometer than petrol powered cars (assuming a 20% biogas portion, about average in Germany) (source). They can be considered climate neutral if fueled with 100% biogas, which is possible at ~150 fuel stations in Germany for example. For traveling alone, a small CNG car like Fiat Panda is suitable. For traveling with others via ride sharing portals, a minivan CNG car such as a VW Caddy Maxi 7-seater is the most economic option, allowing comfortable travel with 6 people via ride-sharing platforms. At (approx.) 6.5 kg CNG/100km, such a setup would result in:

(6.5 kg CNG/100 km × 2.79 kg CO2/kg CNG) / 6 persons / 100 km = 30.2 g CO2/passenger km

This amounts to about a third of the 2018 global average values for air travel. Assuming an average 20% biogas, the fossil fuel portion is 24.2 g CO2/passenger km. That is less than the 32 g/passenger km for coach travel (assuming a utilization rate of 60%), currently considered the most climate friendly public transport option in Germany according to a study of the federal office for environmental affairs (source; TODO: find and link the original source).

Rental cars. If there is plain nothing on offer regarding public transport to travel between two intermediate destinations, a rental car can be a possible solution, as it can be handed back at a different station than the pickup station. It can also be cost-effective, as esp. in touristic areas in the off-season the offers are full of dumping prices, down to 50 EUR for 5 days. Take a car that is as small as possible of course, as these consume less fuel.

2.4. Ferries

In the Mediterranean Sea, there are numerous ferry connections and they are almost ridiculously cheap for foot passengers (for example Palermo – Tunis 13 EUR, Palermo – Genoa 52 EUR). Ferries are not in service because of foot passengers, these rather just fill up spots not taken by the passengers of transported cars and trucks, and some free deck space just because a ferry comes with a lot of space. So a ferry foot passenger is “zero marginal emissions”: adding or removing all foot passenger does not change number of ferry journeys or their CO2 emissions in any way. That makes it a green way to travel, as long as cars are ferried around.

The advantage of a ferry is that you get one long trip instead of piecing together multiple train and bus journeys. That avoids missing connections due to delays and may even give you a full night of sleep. For example Palermo – Genoa is 20:30 hours by ferry, and 17-18 hours by bus and train if you don’t miss a connection.

Some tips for ferry travel as a foot passenger:

  • If you want comfort, book a cabin bed. Usually, 4-bed shared cabins are available, either inside-facing or outside-facing (with windows). The latter are more expensive.

  • "Deck space" means camping. At least with Grimaldi Lines, you don’t have to reserve a seat and can instead use “deck passage”. That’s obviously the cheapest option, but it means you have to bring sleeping gear if you want to sleep. At night, people are literally just sleeping everywhere in the large common deck rooms. You do well to grab a space early on, as sometimes the boat will be so full that it’s difficult to get a good sleeping spot if you wait too long. Also, the engines can be quite noisy and the lights will stay on in the deck spaces, so be sure to prepare for that if you want to sleep.

  • How to do computer work. There is no Internet (at reasonable cost) available during passage. You usually can get satellite Internet access via wifi, but that’s only reasonable for very low bandwidth applications like plain text chat and e-mail. But you can totally do computer work that does not need it. try to be lucky and find a chair and a power outlet somewhere, for example in the staircases. These are well-loved by others for charging phones and often blocked. But if you bring a multi-plug that also includes four USB charging sockets, you’ll certainly be able to get a power socket. People will also ask you to guard their device while it’s charging. Otherwise, you can bring an external battery pack or replaceable notebook batteries for 10-12 hours of work.

Booking ferry trips:

  • Directly at the ferry line. You can book tickets directly with the ferry line. Expect old-fashioned websites, and that payment systems may not work the way they should. In that case, Direct Ferries is another option (see below).

  • Direct Ferries. This is a platform to book tickets for multiple ferry lines in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but the tickets you get are valid (tested by @matthias).

2.5. Experimental options

There are some more options for those ready to experiment or to innovate. Below we list what we find interesting, and it also includes some business ideas for entrepreneurs:

  • Sleeper buses. These are coach-size buses equipped with bunk beds or cabins for night accommodation. In principle, these could be the perfect complementary solution for trains, directly connecting cities not readily served by trains or where a train journey would take changeovers in the middle of the night etc… They could even be used in line or charter service for comfortable multi-day journeys that replace longer flights. Assuming they have half the capacity of a regular coach, they would use 0.82 l/100 km of diesel fuel per passenger, still much better than airlines at 3.61 l/100 km (see: Wikipedia: Fuel economy in aircraft).

    Sadly, these buses are only available for public transportation in India (see) plus one company in the U.S.A., connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Europe, they are often used by bands and available for charter for other uses; the economics of that option have to be investigated. Flixbus operates night bus connections with regular coach buses throughout Europe – means, you will not have a real bed to sleep in, just an inclined seat.

  • Intercontinental bus travel. This is not yet on offer for real but would be a suitable technological alternative for long-distance flights for any journey leg not including an ocean crossing. Without infrastructure investments, it would be an intermediate solution until the the issue that bogs long-distance surface travel down is solved (namely comfortable and dependable booking and travel, not the mess of carriers, delays, payment options etc. that we have today). Buses can even carry their own sleeping and cooking equipment, allowing to travel comfortably through very remote areas. The closest thing in existence is German “moving hotel” bus operator Rotel Tours (English Wikipedia, German Wikipedia). They offered overland journeys from Europe to India earlier, but seemingly not anymore as of 2020. Potentially a whole bus could be chartered for a custom journey, but it would require at least 20 travelers for that.

  • Freighter travel. You travel aboard a commercial cargo ship. Rates are usually per day of travel and vary from 60 - 130 EUR. An example of an agency offering this type of journey is Langsamreisen. If you find a way to directly agree on this with the shipping company, it will probably be much cheaper.

  • Recreational boat travel. This typical boat journey offer you can find at Find a Crew is by a middle-aged male captain, traveling for fun, anywhere in the world. You will have to help aboard as part of the crew, and in most cases are expected to contribute to harbor costs and food expenses etc… There are no fixed dates of departure (“it depends on the weather”) and mostly no fixed routes given, so when trying to use this as a mode of traveling it will really be stretching it. But you may be lucky, of course :slight_smile:

  • Sailing cruise ships. There is at least one large (26 passenger) sailing ship doing Atlantic crossings, in this case once per year in each direction: the Chronos. One crossing Caribbean Sea to Portugal will take 26 days and cost 4600 EUR :astonished:

  • Engine powered cruise ships are not an option. Engine powered cruise ships are available in plenty to cross the oceans, and when knowing the tricks it can even be cheaper than living in a hotel. Some digital nomads do this as a way of living, and there is now even Nomad Cruise for them. However, their carbon emissions are worse than flying, and there are plenty of other pollution issues they cause. Numbers are hard to find, but here are some from a 2006 Guardian article:

    “According to our calculations, a cruiseliner such as Queen Mary 2 emits 0.43kg of CO2 per passenger mile, compared with 0.257kg for a long-haul flight (even allowing for the further damage of emissions being produced in the upper atmosphere). […]”

    “Travelling to New York and back on the [Queen Elizabeth 2] […] uses almost 7.6 times as much carbon as making the same journey by plane.”

2.6. Containment planning

When dealing with international surface travel, you often have to use self-connected journeys, which means that the carrier will not refund your other tickets or unplanned overnight stays in case of delays. And delays are inevitable so just plan for them yourselves. Some hints:

  • Sufficient changeover times. For journey legs that are hard to calculate and could have significant delays (such as ferries), plan for sufficient changeover times of several hours right from the start.

  • Minimizing connections. Long journeys without a changeover cannot go wrong, making them preferable even if somewhat more expensive. This applies to long train journeys – look at a track map to find suitable ones. It also especially applies to ferry journeys as an alternative to trains and buses.

  • Cancellation policies. Any leg of your journey except the first should have a useful cancellation or ticket change policy. This might mean booking for a higher fare initially to have that flexibility. Here are some tips for different carriers:

    • Deutsche Bahn. “Super Sparpreis” tickets cannot be cancelled or refunded. “Sparpreis” tickets can be cancelled up to and including on the calendar day before the first day of the ticket’s validity, for a fee of 10 EUR. “Flexpreis” tickets can be cancelled free of charge up to and including on the calendar day before the first day of the ticket’s validity, and refunded for at least 1 month after that for a fee of usually 19 EUR. (Details.)

      Recommendations: usually book “Sparpreis”; if the DB connection is late in the day and you don’t know until that day if you can make it, better book “Flexpreis”, esp. if it is not that much more expensive. Sometimes “Flexpreis” for international connections is up to five times as expensive as early-booked “Sparpreis” tickets, in which case booking two separate “Sparpreis” tickets can make sense, of which you then use one.

    • Flixbus. You can cancel with a minimal fee (1 EUR) in the app or website up to 15 min before departure. An alternative Flixbus connection that you have to book short-term might be more expensive, so it can make sense to keep a “free journey” joker coupon ready for these cases.

2.7. Initiatives

3. Flying thoughtfully

3.1. When can flying be the better option?

Flying plus over-compensating. It is not at all clear for what kind of traveling flying together with compensating or over-compensating its emissions is the better way to travel, all factors considered. Flying is much harder to de-carbonize in the near future and uses more energy per passenger kilometer (is more wasteful) anyway, so ground transport is preferable, and if only to create a market demand for better and greener ground transport options in the future. The comfort and usually lower costs of flying are not proper reasons to fly – however, when the difference in cost is invested into over-compensating the emissions of flying, it’s an open question up to what extent ground transport is really the better option. There will be a time when that cost difference is eliminated, but while it exists (and ground transport is as inadequate as today), perhaps a good rule of thumb is this:

“When ground transport exceeds 24 hours of traveling, or when overnight transport is needed but no comfortable options is available, flying plus 8× over-compensating the emissions is a suitable option.”

This will still create and show market demand for continent-wide surface travel, incl. comfortable overnight traveling. At the same time, compensating the emissions 8 times ensures that even in the “4 times the emisisons” worst case scenario of the total climate impact of aviation, the journey is a net benefit for the climate. Even better of course, invest the whole price difference between flying and surface travel into compensating emissions.

Example calculation. A one-way journey Frankfurt – Catania (1487 km) means 134 kg of direct emissions per passenger (calculated here). To compensate that 8 times over, 8 × 134 kg = 1072 kg of CO2 emissions have to be offset. The cheapest option for surface travel is by coach (110 EUR). The cheapest and also lowest-emission option of flying is with RyanAir, at about 30 EUR. The 80 EUR difference can compensate up to 7.3 t of CO2 emissions using typical rates that start at 11 EUR/t. Investing the whole price difference into compensating emissions would compensate 54 times the direct emissions of the flight, or 54/4 = 13 times the worst-case climate impact of that flight. So even when assuming that compensation schemes are not nearly as effective as they claim to be etc., there will be a lot of net benefit left.

3.2. Low-emission flying

When it comes to flying, not all flights are the same in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. This and how to choose flights wisely in practice deserves more analysis, but here are a few pointers already:

  • Fly as short as possible. Even if it is not practically possible to use surface travel for all of your trip, you can at least minimize the part of the trip done by airplane. The lower limit will be the ocean crossing, usually. For example, you could fly Lisbon – New York (5432 km) rather than Berlin – Los Angeles (9341 km), saving 42% of air travel. Dublin – New York is similar (5129 km), saving 45%.

    A great tool to find short flight connections is flightconnections.com. When you have some good candidate airports, you check their exact distances with Wolfram Alpha with queries as in the examples above. That makes sense as usual maps do not provide a good visual sense of distance due to distortions inherent in the map projection.

  • Choose a fuel-efficient airline. Because, there are vast differences in the fuel economy between airlines due to airplane fleet and seat density:

    In 2014, MSCI ranked Ryanair as the lowest-emissions-intensity airline […] with 75 g CO2-e/revenue passenger kilometre – below Easyjet at 82 g, the average at 123 g and Lufthansa at 132 g – by using high-density 189-seat Boeing 737-800s.

    (source: Wikipedia: Fuel economy in aircraft § Airlines)

    From that example, flying with RyanAir compared to an “average” airline would reduce the CO2 emissions of the flight already by 1-(75/123) = 39%. They are called “economy airlines” for a reason …

  • Avoid too short and too long flight legs. Very short (<2000 km) flights or flight legs have a bad fuel economy due to the high fuel consumption during ascent. Likewise, very long (>5000 - 6000 km) flights or flight legs start to become less fuel efficient due to the added weight of the fuel for the whole flight. Then, it makes sense to make a stop to re-fuel (see). (TODO: good numbers for different flight lengths and aircraft types)

  • Fly light. This makes some limited sense: for example on a 4,600 km flight, each kilogram of added weight consumes 15% of its weight in fuel, producing roughly 45% of its weight in CO2 emissions:

    Airbus presented the following measures to save fuel, in its example of an A330 flying […] 4,600 km […]: […] 100 litres […] of unused potable water consumes 15 kg […] more fuel.

    (Source: Wikipedia: Fuel economy in aircraft § Procedures)

    So the 50 kg difference of sending a more lightweight colleague to fly, who then also flies without baggage, would save 22.5 kg of CO2 emissions. Compared to the total emissions of the flight of about 289 kg (source, for BKK­–HND) that’s a maximum achievable saving of ~8%.

  • Turboprop engines are more fuel efficient than the usual turbofan engines (see), but they are not used at all on intercontinental flights, the only ones that usually cannot be replaced by ground transportation.

  • Some airlines may already use significant portions of sustainable aviation fuel. That’s not sustainable of course, but better than nothing.

  • Wikipedia: Environmental impact of aviation

  • Wikipedia: Fuel economy in aircraft

4. Making the most of your journey

Travel time does not have to be a “dead zone”. You can and should reclaim that time to work, play or reach out to your loved ones. This is much easier when traveling overland, without the annoying interruptions of air travel. In Edgeryders, we commit to not making trouble paying you for work done while on the road.

4.1. Before your trip: planning well

If you do have to travel, we recommend you spend some time planning your trip carefully:

  • Merge your trips. @alberto believes in “merging” trips: if you can, schedule your trip so that you go from destination B directly to destination C. This way, you can cover two destinations with only three legs of your journey, instead of four (two there-and-back journeys). This generalizes even better to more than two destinations.

  • Travel together. By taking a colleague or friend with you on your travels, you transform hard-to-use travel time into important facetime for socializing and / or business purposes. It’s much more fun, cheaper (by sharing a room), easier (by sharing the coordination effort) and safer (by having an experienced colleague or at least another pair of eyes and ears if something goes wrong). Because it’s more fun, it can make strenuous journeys such as a multi-day boat or train journey acceptable. Of course, to make this possible you’ll have to start planning early: when selecting the people to work on a project resp. to go to a certain event.

4.2. On the road: a kit for pleasant and productive trips

Experienced travelers have many tips and tricks for making the most of the long hours you will spend on the road.

  • A noise canceling headphones set eliminates the hum of the road. This helps you feel more rested, and is especially good if you want to sleep.

  • A travel pillow can be a great help if you want to sleep.

  • Make sure you pack power banks not to run out of juice (though most trains and buses in Europe nowadays offer power sockets). Always take an international power adapter with you, it can save a lot of frustration!

  • If you plan to do a lot of writing, you can improve your writing posture and comfort even without an external monitor. The Roost holds your laptop screen at eye level, and an external keyboard helps you maintain a correct elbow and wrist position.

4.3. At destination: take your time

If you do decide to travel, be aware that most of the value added by your trip is going to be in socializing: getting closer to clients and partners, better understand their world and their point of view. For this reason, we recommend you take time to spend with the key people you are visiting. A good rule of thumb is to spend at least three nights out.

4.4. At the end: document your trip

Make sure that your colleagues and the community (including people you do not know, or who have not even joined Edgeryders yet) make the most of your trip by carefully documenting what you learned. In most cases, this is best done by writing a post in the appropriate category if this platform. Be mindful of the client’s confidentiality needs: they might require that the documentation is not shared publicly.

5. Compensating emissions

All travel (but esp. air travel) results in direct greenhouse gas emissions. We strongly suggest to follow the following policy in any Edgeryders project to deal with this fact:

When we have to travel because remote collaboration is not possible, we allocate an adequate amount of the project budget to the compensation of the travel emissions.

The idea is to bake emission compensation right into the project budgets of all our project applications. That is hard to decline for any client, avoids any budgetary issues later, and may even

How to measure. Before compensating, you should estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by your trip:

  • For air travel. A good tool that includes factors such as aircraft type, intermediate stops and route-specific aircraft occupancy is the ICAO Carbon Emissions Calculator.

How to choose a compensation measure. Any credible measure that reduces or sequesters current emissions is fine. For example planting trees or capturing landfill methane. Measures that just reduce hypothetical future emissions “that would happen due to economic growth” are highly questionable though – the right thing to do is to not grow the economy at the cost of the climate in the first place, and incidentally that has a cost of zero.

How to compensate. There are many ways to compensate emissions, and not all of them are equally trustworthy or cost efficient. We need to do more research in this area, but here are some initial pointers:

  • Treedom, an Italian company providing a service of emission compensation by tree planting. The trees have IDs, you can choose their variety and location, and are informed about their status. Edgeryders started its forest there with one Avocado Christmas tree, a gift received from @ilaria when she proposed the compensation scheme.

  • LifeGate, another Italian company providing emission compensation via tree planting.

  • SouthPole developes emissions reduction projects worldwide for both individuals and organisations, including forestry, renewables, waste management and energy access projects.

  • United Nations Carbon Offset Platform. A platform with many initiatives to choose from, certified by a UN certification scheme.

5 Likes

I like this policy, but to clarify a bit…

For me, this will mostly be practically impossible unless I’m traveling within Scandinavia. For example, traveling overland even to the closest destinations from Stockholm outside of Scandinavia, like Amsterdam or Berlin, takes 16+ hours. Adding to that, the shortest path is usually a combination of busses and trains with at least two to four transfers, making work and sleep interrupted. That’s similar to traveling from Brussels to Madrid. I’m just flagging for this now, seeing that it’s easy to underestimate how long it takes to even get out of Scandinavia. Overall, this is a good policy though!

1 Like

Of course. No hard rules, just a strong orientation.

Comment on section 2.1. Rail: websites and apps

I recently travelled from Maastricht (NL) to Belgrade (SRB) by train on an Interrail pass (https://www.interrail.eu/nl/interrail-passen). Interrail offers a wide range of different passes, amongst which a global pass that allows you to travel through 31 countries using only one card, so no fuss with buying a new ticket for every change of train.The type of global pass I bought grants me 5 days of travel during a one-month period in second class. My journey to Belgrade took me 25 hours, but since my journey included a night train*, I still have 4 days of travelling left (during which I can explore the rest of the region, and make my way back home). I believe that for less than 300€, that’s a pretty good deal! Interrail’s app allows you not only to plan your journey from a to b, but also to filter on reservation-free routes, and pass-network-only routes. This enables you to travel with trains that do not require any additional fees or administrative actions. Of course, that means that it might cost you a bit more time to arrive on your destination. You can however also opt for a first class ticket, and reserve your seat in advance. Generally, you will need to pay additional fees for travelling with high-speed trains like the TGV. What is great about interrail, is that the global pass also covers travel with several bus companies and ferries in Europe. Personally, I did not make any reservations in advance, used pass-network-only routes, and…had an unexpectedly smooth journey!

I hope this information was useful :slight_smile:


* If you enter a night train before midnight, the specific train ride will be counted as part of that travel day, regardless of its duration.

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Hello @LauraAuguste, welcome back and thanks for the tip. Do you feel like adding this information to the wiki yourself? Just click on the “Edit” button. :slight_smile:

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Example: planning a trip to northern Europe

I tried to apply the policy to my next batch of trips, scheduled for the second half of September.

Situation

  • I need to go to Berlin to the Creative Bureaucracy Festival on 20-21.
  • I need to go to Helsinki for the NGI Forum and MyData on 25-26.
  • I also need to go to Copenhagen for personal reasons, with more flexible dates.

Do I need to travel?

Yes. Edgeryders’ participation at both events is geared towards high-bandwidth, one-on-one interaction with people whose buy-in is critical to our activities in the respective fields. For Berlin, the project leader (@bob) made the call; for Helsinki, our presence is insistently required by the European Commission. I also have to speak on panels in both events.

Can I go overland?

  • Berlin-Brussels by train is a piece of cake. 6 hours each way
  • Brussels-Copenhagen also doable. 12 hours each way.
  • Brussels-Helsinki is NOT doable. According to Rome2Rio, the fastest way to travel without flying is to travel by train to Köln, then Hamburg, then Lübeck. Then travel by road somehow to Travemünde, board a ferry and travel by sea to the Helsinki area. Total travel time is about 40 hours each way.

Solution

  • I merge the three trips into a long one. This is a bit uncomfortable for me, but it has the advantage os saving two legs: instead of three return journeys (six legs) I travel on a ring in the order: Berlin first, then Helsinki, then Copenhagen, then back to BXL (four legs).
  • Two of the four legs (BXL-BER and CPH-BXL) I do overland, by train.
  • I fly the other two, in and out of HEL.
  • This also allows me to spend substantial time in my destinations. I am scheduled to spend five nights in BER (though, realistically, I will have any access to clients and partners for only two, maximum two and a half days, because the Festival is only two days long); and three in HEL.

What do you guys think?

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Seems reasonable, with 2 disadvantages outside of the carbon footprint net positive.

  1. The additional and probably personal costs of stays in each city
  2. The time spent outside of one’s home - makes it for 2 weeks in total? That’s OK for people with not many personal commitments, but might be harder for others.
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Indeed. I am making it work by turning the waiting time in Berlin into a mini-holiday. But very true, if I had small children it would be harder. But then even doing this trip in any form would be harder.

True in a practical sense, but let’s totally not worry about the (monetary) costs here. Let’s pioneer instead.

Traveling nowadays is a kind of capitalist extortion of people in vulnerable situations (“Oh, you don’t have a place to sleep in this city? I’d have this hotel room for a mere 100 EUR. What? No, not per month. Per night.”) It does not have to be like this, at all. When more people pioneer with us this new way of traveling, there will be a need for cheaper short and medium term accommodation for the “nomads”. And then there will be a market for this.

Or even better, a community initiative could form around this. Like a couchsurfing for business. Maybe as part of a global accommodation barter economy, where Edgeryders’ guestroom in Brussels would host other business travelers and earn us some kind of “credits”, and in exchange we can use others’ guestrooms for free in other cities. In fact, we could already offer that “service” to others as part of this green travel policy.

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Hi Alberto,

First of all, I’d gladly add my tips to the wiki myself asap :). Secondly, I see you have quite some travelling to do. If it would be possible for your to stay in Berlin (or Copenhagen) for a couple of days, you could consider travelling by train from Berlin to Copenhagen, and travel to Helsinki by train and ferry from there. It will still be a long journey, 25 hours, but you can generally book private space/a bedroom on a ferry. This would allow you to get some work done on the way. Speaking from personal experience, these ferries are generally pretty comfortable and feature (tax-free) shops and restauration as well. Again, the Interrail global pass covers ferries as well! #bonus!

If you want to spend more time in Copenhagen afterwards, you could take the plane to Copenhagen from Helsinki, and then take the train back from Copenhagen to Brussels. If that’s not the case, you can fly straight from Helsinki to Copenhagen. Both scenario’s would reduce your number of (long-distance) flights from 2 to 1.

The last scenario would look like this:

Brussels-Cologne-Berlin, total 7h

Berlin-Hamburg-Fredericia-Copenhagen, total 7,5h

Copenhagen-Stockholm Central-Stockholm Tegelvikshammen(ferry)-Helsinki Katajanokka-Helsinki; total 25h

Helsinki-Brussels (by plane)

What do you think? I of course do not know your calendar, but I tried to think along :slight_smile:

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Wow, @LauraAuguste, I am super-flattered that you would take the time to offer an alternative planning!

You had a missing information, which is this: not all the dates are flexible. Some (Berlin and Helsinki) are completely inflexible. So, I could not plan the much more sensible BRU-BER-CPH-HEL-BRU, as you suggest, but had to settle for BRU-BER-HEL-CPH-BRU.

Other than that, you are right: 25 comfortable hours might still be doable (though expensive, because I’ll need cabins, wagon-lits etc.). Something to try for next time.

For now, greetings from… the train from Milan to BXL, via Paris. :smile:

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Dropping this here for later processing:

Many thanks to @orangejon for setting up a group advising on alternatives. Too bad it’s on facebook, but appreciating the generosity :PP

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I just added a section on ferry travel.

Also, for later research: not all flights are made equal. Some flight connections will be more fuel-efficient than others. For example, starts consume a lot of fuel, so a direct connection will be more fuel efficient than one with an intermediate stop. Also fuel efficiency will vary by size of jet aircraft. And turboprop airplanes are much more fuel efficient than jets (but also slower). A good place for asking questions around this is Aviation StackEchange.

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I just added some research and numbers about that in section “3. If you must fly”. The tips now contained there already enable emission savings of 50-70%, compared to an average “mindless” flight, and depending on the situation at hand.

(And @ilaria, I propose you submit this manual to C-KIC as a companion document for the Distributed Collaboration Manual. Because it is relevant for their goal of reducing emissions from business travel. Not commissioned by them, but let’s say it’s a free bonus :slight_smile: )

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I already did :wink:

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@kajafarszky please read this guide as you book our trips!

@alberto Thanks! I’m checking it already.

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If anyone is in Spain these days - something to try and report back (added it to the wiki):

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