How to travel sustainably in Ireland
There’s no escaping the fact that Ireland is an island, so getting here will typically involve air or sea travel. If you’re flying, you can minimise that impact by taking direct flights where possible, flying economy, travelling at off-peak travel times, and limiting your yearly air mileage overall. If you’re travelling by ferry, try to choose less busy times for travelling.
When it comes to packing, bring only what you need. Not only will you save money on airline fees, less weight on the plane saves on fuel usage! However, be prepared to Leave No Trace of your visit, so bring reusable items if you can, such as your own coffee cup, a metal straw, water bottles, bags and your own toiletries – and don’t forget your camera!
Be mindful about the accommodation you choose. Ireland is filled with environmentally friendly stays that are every bit as convenient – and often more charming – as other lodgings. Last but not least, find out as much as possible about the history, local culture, traditions and legends before you set off, so that you can fully immerse yourself in the local heritage when you arrive.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anythingGeorge Bernard Shaw
While you're here
Although public transport is most accessible in Ireland’s cities, there is a wide-reaching bus and rail network across the island that gets you from A to B; Transport for Ireland will allow you to plan your routes in advance, and help keep your travel around the island eco-friendly. And as all our public transport is overground, you’ll be able to take in the views while you travel.
Thankfully, our towns and cities are all easily walkable, so all you need to explore them by foot is a good pair of shoes. And remember, getting out into nature is one of the best ways to truly appreciate a new environment – so consider cycling or walking rather than renting a car! There are also dedicated off-road cycling and walking trails called Ireland's Greenways and Northern Ireland Greenways, which cyclists and walkers can explore at their leisure.
Buses, trams, trains, bikes and walking really will help keep your carbon footprint to a minimum, so you can keep the atmosphere – and your conscience – clean.
One of the best things you can do to stay sustainable is also one of the simplest. Even better, it’s as much of a treat to yourself as it is to the planet: eat local food. Ireland is famed for its fantastic food and drink. Give back to the community by supporting local businesses, restaurants and farmers’ markets. You can even combine sightseeing with tasty treats and take a food tour from a local guide.
Speaking of which, choosing local guides is the ideal way to go sightseeing – they know everything about the area, they’re invested in showing you the best of their surroundings. And they’re also great for getting recommendations about what else to see and do.
And always remember to respect the natural resources of the environment: reduce, reuse and recycle. Even though you’re just visiting, split your rubbish out into recyclable and green waste, and keep your usage of water and energy to a minimum.
And of course, you can’t forget the souvenirs. Ireland’s artists create terrific, unique crafts that make perfect mementos of the trip of a lifetime – much more meaningful than a plastic knick-knack.
We all know the post-holiday lull can be a powerful thing. So, once you’re home, why not channel that energy into some activities that are good for the planet? Sites like Go Carbon Neutral, Vita and South Pole enable you to calculate the carbon footprint of your trip, from flights and accommodation to local transport.
From there, you can offset your emissions by sponsoring reforestation initiatives, purchasing more efficient stoves for people in developing countries, or even supporting women’s health and employment opportunities.
And, of course, in a world where we are able to share our ideas far and wide, compiling your top travel tips from Ireland and sharing them with friends and family is a great way to help reduce everybody's environmental impact as well as keep the circle of sustainable travel going around.