Of course, sometimes you have no choice. You have to take a plane to move from one continent to another, but seriously, there is no need to fly from London to Paris, or Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, as there are much greener, equally fast and more comfortable ways of moving around Europe, Asia and any other part of the world.
Trains versus planes
When it comes to nature, planes are the killers. Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, so choosing other alternatives, if possible, is the simplest thing you can do to cut your carbon footprint and help protect the environment.
Busy sky of Toronto. By wvs
By the way of example, Eurostar train that travels from London to various popular destinations in Europe, such as Paris, Brussels or even Barcelona, emits up to 90% less CO2 that the plane taken on the same route! The research done by the Eurostar operator looked at passenger loading in trains and aircrafts, actual power, electricity and fuel consumed by both means and the conclusion was striking: a two way journey from London to Paris by plane emits 244 kg of CO2 per passenger, while the same trip by train would emit 22 kg of CO2 per passenger.
In other types of trains the figures are similar. The ultra fast TGV in France or Spanish AVE trains are technically similar to Eurostar and use far less power than fuel-hungry planes. Also a trial of a Colorado Railcar double-deck DMU (with all seats filled) found fuel consumption to be 0.503 l/100 km, i.e. 486 MPG, which is, in comparison to planes, a remarkable outcome.
Motor coaches versus hybrid cars
The aircrafts also do not stack up to the buses. Motor coaches boast similar fuel efficiency and carbon emissions to trains. Also, cars pale in comparison with motor coaches. On average, one coach consumes 35 liters of fuels per 100km, while even the most eco friendly hybrid car needs around 5.2l/100km.
A car usually carries one or two people, while the buses can seat up to 56 people. So one coach can displace up to 56 cars on the road. Even when we assume that there are four people travelling in one car, the coaches are still greener - the fuel efficiency totals to 1.3l/100 km for a car, while for a bus the figure is 0.7l/100km. If you really have to rent a car while travelling, choose hybrid instead of a traditional car that can consume twice as much fuel.
Helsinki Central Railway Station. By Claudio.Ar
The advantages of trains and motor coaches versus planes go far beyond the environmental issues. Using budget airlines might be sometimes cheaper than taking a train or coach, but you don't really save on time. Most of the airports servicing the budget airlines are far from the city center, so you need extra time for getting to and out of the airport. Moreover, you need extra time for check in and boarding, so a few extra hours need to be added to your two-hour flight.
High-speed trains are more reliable in terms of punctuality and they always stop right in the city center. When it comes to comparing cars with coaches, the advantages of the latter vehicles are also obvious. Buses are cheaper than a rented car, you don't need to worry about driving, traffic on the road and parking in the city you do not know.
The choice is yours.