The round trip to/from your Erasmus destination is a fundamental part of your mobility experience. The way you do it though, makes a difference. As the most extensive mobility scheme in the world, the Erasmus programme moves thousands of students who inevitably contribute significant carbon emissions. Emissions from aviation in particular have been rising rapidly over the past two decades. Technical solutions, such as transitioning to sustainable aviation fuels are still far from being mainstream, and still do not eliminate emissions entirely.
Therefore, we need to consider changes in behaviour when it comes to travel choices. Before starting your Erasmus+ exchange, consider measuring the carbon footprint of different transport options and check how your journey affects the climate.
Actions you can take
- Calculate your journey’s carbon footprint.
- Take a train or a bus to reach your Erasmus mobility destination, as low-carbon alternatives to short-haul flights. By doing so, the Erasmus+ programme foresees an extra 50 euros and up to 4 days of additional individual support for your journey. Ask your international/mobility office for more information about this funding opportunity. Meanwhile, have a look at the tips and tricks for green travel written by Movetia (Swiss National Agency for Exchange and Mobility) and by the Green Office of Utrecht University, and follow the steps suggested by Erasmus by Train.
- Rail and coach connections vary considerably across Europe, therefore, for some destinations it may not be feasible to take a train, bus or coach. If you do need to fly, opt for airlines with more efficient fleets and routes with fewer stopovers. Direct flights are less polluting. When feasible, fly to places close to your final destination and switch to alternative transport modes for the final stage of your journey.
- Travel by train and/or bus requires a mental shift (welcome to the world of slow travel!) as it can take one or few more days to reach your destination. If you are looking for a place to stay ‘en route’, use an eco-friendly booking site for accommodation or opt for homestays. Fancy a hostel experience? Have a look at Hostelling International, a worldwide network of not-for-profit Youth Hostel Associations advocating sustainable travel.
- Travel prepared! A lot of disposable plastics are avoidable. To reduce plastic waste generated while travelling, make sure you have a reusable kit: a water bottle and a cup for hot drinks, a reusable shopping bag, reusable cutlery, toiletries in refillable bottles and/or soap bar. Become a Traveler Against Plastic!
- Find out about students' public transport cards or bike rental systems to move green once you reach your destination. You might need that passport photo in the drawer of your bedside table…