New ways to travel make it easier to travel GOOD

Eliza Raymond
Jul 23, 2023

If you’ve ever cycled in certain parts of the world, you’ll know what I mean. I’m talking about this.

And this.

So it makes sense that until a couple of years ago, there were no cycle tour companies in my home city of Wellington, New Zealand. Most tourists weren’t quite up to braving our famously windy and hilly city on a bicycle. Fair enough.

Luckily for Wellingtonians, visitors and the world in general, Ryan O’Connell, a cycling and sustainability enthusiast, had an idea. He found a solution that would enable visitors and locals to explore Wellington by bicycle, but without having to battle the winds and hills with just their two legs: Switched On Bikes.

Switched On Bikes specialises in electric bike hire and guided tours. According to Ryan, their zero emissions bikes run on a battery that costs about 10 cents to charge and then you’re good to go for about 60km. The speed is not that different from a regular bicycle - about 25km/hour - but you can make it over Wellington’s hills without breaking a sweat.

You can make it over Wellington’s hills without breaking a sweat. And they’re easy to use - if you can ride a regular bike, you can ride an eBike.

What we realised talking to Ryan is that as GOOD travellers who care about sustainable tourism, we need to be thinking much more about how we travel to, and within, our destination. Ryan explained that lots of people see cycling as a one-off activity when they travel, but he wants to see more people using bicycles as a form of transport. Wellington, for example, is such a compact city and you really don’t need a car to see the main tourist sights here. You can easily get everywhere by electric bike.

I want to see more people using bikes as a form of transport instead of a one-off activity.

Of course there’s always the option to just carbon offset your travels. But a recent article by Travindy shows that carbon offsetting programmes are far from perfect. 

So as GOOD travellers, minimising our carbon footprint should always be a priority and something we actively think about when we're planning our travels. We’ve come up with three questions to ask yourself before your next trip to help reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Where will you travel? Travelling to far-flung exotic locations is always going to be exciting, but there are often so many interesting places to visit a bit closer to home too. A Staycation or a trip closer to home can be a great way to spend less money on flights and have extra $$ available to spend on GOOD activities and delicious, local food!

2. How will you travel? One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to think about what type of transport you are using - both to get to your destination and also once you get there. The more environmentally friendly modes of transportation are often slower - think walking, cycling and kayaking vs driving, motorbikes and motorboats. But by travelling at a slower pace, you’ll often have much more interesting experiences and really get to see the places you’re travelling through. If you use an unusual mode of transport, local people are also much more likely to want to interact with you and find out what you’re up to, so riding a bicycle or tandem bike for example can be a great way to start a conversation with local people.

3. What can you do if flying and driving is your only option? If you do have to fly to get to your destination, try to fly the most direct route possible to minimise take-offs and landings when the most fuel is used. You can feel good about flying economy - because more people per plane means fewer emissions per person. Try to pack light because less weight = less fuel being burned. And if you have to hire a car once you get to your destination then why not try an electric or hybrid car - or at least think about the size and fuel economy when you’re selecting which car to hire.

Once you’ve finalised your itinerary and means of transport, hopefully you’ll have reduced your carbon emissions as much as possible. Then head to to calculate your footprint using this tool and offset your impact through one of their carbon offsetting programmes.

July 23, 2023
5 min read