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How to Minimize Your Carbon Footprint When Travelling

young woman backpacker looking at the waterfall in jungles

From traveling to your destination to doing some sightseeing, there are plenty of ways to minimize your carbon footprint. Here are a few options to consider if you’re looking to make more conscious decisions on future trips. 


This type of tourism is an excellent way to visit a new location without putting too much stress on its natural resources. Conservation, education, and tourist responsibility are highlighted while enabling travelers to immerse themselves into the community and live a different experience compared to the common all-inclusive escapade.

There are a wide variety of eco-tours you can do depending on your destination, all with minimal environmental impact and attracting individuals with a great love for culture and the outdoors. Preservation programs are a great way to combine travel with volunteering, actively participating in projects aimed at protecting flora and fauna in the country.

Pack Your Own Water Bottle

Carrying your own water bottle from the moment you head out to the airport will help you stay away from plastic bottles. If you like to always have water on hand as well as a hot beverage, you can bring two reusable containers with you. This will result in less plastic being thrown away in the trash, and less money spent on water and your daily caffeine boost. Sometimes coffee shops even offer a discount for customers who bring their own portable mugs.

Fly and Sleep More Sustainably

Passengers boarding a plane

Plastic and cars are usually the first things we think about when discussing pollution. What we fail to acknowledge sometimes is the significant impact that the most convenient mode of transportation for long-distance travel has on the environment.

Flying isn’t very eco-friendly. Airplanes produce vast amounts of CO2, much more than your average car. To put this into perspective, consider that a return flight between New York and Los Angeles produces 20% of the greenhouse gases that a car emits on any given year. In relative terms, a family taking a road trip in a relatively fuel-efficient car will output less carbon than flying on a plane.

While driving is usually better for the environment (but not always an option), there are a couple of tricks to get around it. Though more expensive, direct flights are less polluting than multiple-stop alternatives, especially since the most carbon emission is created during landing and takeoff.

Flying economy is also a simple way to make a smaller impact. Research carried out by the World Bank in 2013 found that Business Class passengers were responsible for three times the carbon footprint of Economy passengers, mainly due to the larger space per seat and baggage allowance. 

Glooby is a travel search engine that compares fares for flights and hotels while also indicating the most eco-friendly options. Indeed, accommodation is something to take into account as well when choosing the most environmentally convenient ways to travel. Eco-labeled hotels, which can also be found on lists provided by groups such as Green Hotels Association, are becoming more popular around the world, aiming to run their business on the least amount of resources possible and offering a more natural and authentic experience to their guests. By combining a conscious decision on your flights and your stay, you can lower your environmental impact and enjoy peace of mind.  

Use Hotel Resources Mindfully

A proper mindset to have when on vacation is to act as you do at home, especially when it comes to hotels. Free laundry and fresh sheets every day are a luxury we all thoroughly enjoy; however, they come at a cost. The Environmental Protection Agency recently calculated that laundry service accounts for approximately 16% of a hotel’s water usage. To minimize your impact, you can choose to cut down on the laundry routine, keeping your towels and your sheets for a couple of extra days rather than having them washed daily. 

Another commodity we tend to take advantage of when on holiday is the free utilities. Electricity, heating, and air conditioning tend to be used around the clock out of convenience. Instead, you could set up a routine where you only leave the heat or air on while you’re in the room and turn them off when you’re asleep or when you go out. Unplugging electronics when they’re fully charged or when they’re not needed is also a simple way to save energy. 

Eat and Drink Locally

The origin of the produce you consume in another country matters a lot in terms of carbon emissions. Imported food has more ‘food miles’ compared to anything locally produced. This means that the product has to travel a longer distance to get to the consumers, involving more fuel and thus a more significant production of greenhouse gases.

By purchasing organic food at a local market, you can help the local economy while also looking after your health. Natural food involves very little processing and thus, less energy consumption. The same concept applies to drinks. Always opt for local brands. This way, you can avoid high food mile counts while discovering new flavors. 

Choose Transportation Wisely

Your own two feet represent the most eco-friendly way to get around a new city. But fear not, there are usually other options available to you. You can either rent a bicycle or a moped for the day and enjoy an independent tour of the area, or you can simply use public transport. Alternatively, you can join a local walking, bike, or Segway tour if you prefer to explore with some company.

As you can see, there are plenty of environmentally conscious ways for you to explore the world. Minimizing your impact on the planet isn’t as difficult as one might think. 

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »
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