Sustainable travelling in Europe – How can you contribute to sustainability while commuting?

How can you contribute to sustainability by changing simple daily actions? This was a question I was also keen to get my head around, especially since I am a person that likes to go out and explore as well as travel. Usually traveling and also sightseeing even in your surrounding area is most likely linked to going by car or plane but Europe is also easily accessible by public transportations which are a lot more climate and ecologically friendly than using a car.

In Germany, especially during your student years, there is much sightseeing to do, but wouldn`t it be great if you could do that while still contributing to sustainability? You can always go by car since it is the easiest way to get to your destination but since Germany has a very well-connected system of public transportation why not consider it when planning your next trip?

Königssee, Schönau am Königssee, Germany
Enjoying the Königssee in Germany. Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Traveling Europe by train

Europe has one of the most interconnected railroad systems in the world. When traveling you can choose between many different providers and destinations to visit. When discovering the surroundings of Karlsruhe, a Baden Württemberg Ticket gives you the freedom to take every train in our State for a moderate price, so it can be a great opportunity to do some sightseeing. As far as the environment is concerned, there are even options right now in a new effort to provide trains with so-called green energy [1] coming from renewable energies like wind energy plants [2] as well as rivers. They also implemented the option to reduce your carbon footprint by paying an environmental fee per ride if you book the ticket online via the ticket counter. Also, the way of traveling by train can commonly allow you to meet some new fellow travels on the way or even locals.

Traveling Europe by bus

Germany is in the center of Europe. Therefore, there is the ability to travel by bus as well. Transportation companies offer multiple routes to almost every major city in Germany and even crossing into other European countries like Italy, Netherlands, or France. This is a nice way to travel low cost if you have a bit more time for the way to get there and could also be seen as a chance to see Europe from its core while driving through it. They also provide the option to pay an environmental fee to reduce your tickets carbon footprint [3].

This is a good way to compensate for the way of traveling by fossil fuels since it still produces a lot of emissions even though you are using a bus as a shared transportation method. But on the other hand, you have to be aware of how the fee is applied. Whether it is just a monetary aid for organizations or do the companies themselves actively try to support their environmental campaigns and actions like a tree planting event or others.

Traveling Europe by bike

In Europe, we have multiple bike tracks spanning over multiple countries. Bike tracks are running along most of our major rivers and it is a great opportunity to travel eco-friendly and completely powered by yourself (if you don’t choose to use an e-bike). Also, there are many hostels, campgrounds as well as restaurants and hotels located nearby these tracks, where you can take some rest and enjoy the local food. The Rhine bike track is one of the most popular tracks for bike traveling in Germany and is a great opportunity to try when studying in Karlsruhe since the city is right next to the riverside. This particular track begins in the Swiss alps, spreads through south and central Germany, and crosses into the Netherlands until it ends in Rotterdam[4]. Given that it is a river also the climb rates are moderate compared to some other tracks in a hillier environment.

Rine bike track -
Map of the Rhine bike track. Screenshot from komoot GmbH

Sharing platforms in Karlsruhe

Germany and especially in the region of Karlsruhe it is popular to share your car through online platforms [5]. This could be especially attractive for younger people like students since the legal age to rent all their varieties of cars is 18, therefore it is also possible to rent a car as a young person like a student in comparison to bigger rental companies where this is only possible from at least 21 years. There is also the option to share private cars through online portals for example to reduce commuting costs or make owning a car more financially attractive. There are offers that you have to pay for, but some are even free. As well as if you don’t own a German driving license yet, there is still the possibility of a drive along with other online platforms, that either offer you a free ride on commercial rides like couriers or truck transports or private persons take you with them on their way to work or business trip.

Top Ten Carsharing Cities in Germany
Car sharing ranking of cities in Germany – Car-Sharing vehicles per 1000 inhabitants.

But the sharing platforms are not only limited to cars, but you also can rent bikes of all kinds (even e-bikes) for an hourly use or even over a longer period and including a service of possible repairs. There are multiple companies offering bike stands all over the city and usually, you can always find them in every major German city near the train stations or the city center. Since most of these platforms and rentals operate online you have to have an account to rent their cars or bikes, since it is not possible to pay in cash

Daily commuting in Karlsruhe

But also, in your daily life, Karlsruhe could be considered a bike-friendly city and usually, a lot of students also come by bike if they live in the city.

It is a quick way of commuting, while at the same time being a low-cost option and it even keeps you fit (which seems especially important in times of Corona). So, you see, for short commutes like grocery shopping or when going to a bakery it is much healthier to go by bike than car. Also, you don’t have to be dependent on train times, so taking your bike to go to uni or grocery shopping is not only helping the environment but also contributes to your freedom. In Karlsruhe, there are even providers of carrier bikes, which enable you to bike even when you have to move heavy equipment, or it could also help you when moving into a different apartment in the city.

Also, the terrain of the city is rather flat which enables you to be much quicker on your bike since the city surface is rather compact, making it almost not exhausting to commute compared to other cities. By the way, the region surrounding Karlsruhe called Baden [6] is considered the city with the highest amount of sun in Germany [7]. Therefore, there is a lot of good weather for your bike rides. Also, it’s a good method to get some taint in the summer.

Especially in Karlsruhe, there is a lot to see in the near surroundings which is easily accessible by bike. But what and where these are is covered in another blog article.

If we got your interest you are free to find further information in our website about activities around Karlsruhe and our study program International Sustainable Management.

Article by Sven Lohmeier *SLO – International Business, 2nd semester (KarlsStorytellers


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