6 Ways to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling

Jelle Bekirovic
Jul 23, 2023

Almost everybody loves to travel. It’s good to get out of your routine and comfort zone, experience new places, and get to know new people. But we’d like to do so in an environmentally friendly way.

Did you know that tourism is currently responsible for nearly one-tenth of global carbon emissions? Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling. Here’s how.

The impact of air travel

Let me first tell you a bit more about the impact our travelling methods have on our planet. As you might know, cars and airplanes emit a lot of CO2, which contributes to global warming.

While air travel is the main culprit, researchers suggest that the travel industry is becoming increasingly challenging as the world gets richer and there is more demand for luxury travel.

Unfortunately, current air travel technologies are at their maximum efficiency. The number of people flying each year is increasing, rapidly. Although that’s good news for the economy, it's not good for our planet. The airplane industry is responsible for 2-3% of all man-made CO2-emissions.

So, what are the things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling?

1. If you book a flight, use a search engine with carbon offset programs

It’s important to - if you do have to take a plane - try to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible. You can do this by using FlyGRN: a flight search engine that automatically offsets your flight’s CO2-emissions (for free).  

Three weeks ago, we launched FlyGRN. FlyGRN is like a regular flight search engine. It has similar prices and is as easy to use as other services.

Like other flight search engines, FlyGRN receives a fee for flight tickets that are sold. With that fee, we’re able to offset (part of) your flight’s CO2-emissions. In some cases, the site is able to offset 100% of your flight’s CO2-emissions. If we're not able to fully offset the flight, we email the user with an offer to offset the rest of his flight's CO2 emissions.

We do this by investing in projects that substitute fossil fuels for renewable (solar) energy and by planting new trees in India (via WeForest).

2. Use alternative travelling methods

The best thing is not to travel by air at all and use alternative travelling methods. For example, travelling by train can save up to 90% of the CO2-emissions compared to air travel when travelling the same distance.

A bus that runs on renewable energy easily saves up to 75% of the CO2-emissions from an airplane. And did you know that you can even travel by electric car? You just need to plan ahead, figure out where all the charging stations are and off you go!

3. Fly direct and get economy class

If you’re travelling by air for a long distance, try to fly direct without too many stopovers. With stopovers, the plane makes a detour. It makes more miles and thus consumes more fuel and emits more CO2.

Economy class is also more sustainable; it uses less space on the plane than a business class seat does.

4. Use your hotel as if it was your own home

Would you spend hours in your own shower or leave the lights on during the day? Or throw the towels in the laundry after every shower? Maybe you’ve seen those messages in a hotel bathroom, asking you to please try to not use too many towels. This is because laundry accounts for 16% of the water usage.

Just try to save water, turn off the lights when you go out the door and keep the thermostat at a normal temperature. As you would do at home.

5. Hop on a subway, train or bike when you’re abroad

Public transport is one of the greenest ways to travel and get around. Use a subway, a bike or a tram when you’re travelling in a city. Oftentimes it’s quicker than a car anyway and you don’t risk getting stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of the city.

6. Stay in an eco-friendly accommodation

Booking.com states in their environmental report that more than two-thirds (68%) of travellers intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018. For almost half of travellers (46%), ‘sustainable travel’ means staying in an eco-friendly or green accommodation.

But as you’ve read above, sustainable travel contains so much more than staying in an eco-lodge. If all travellers would take these measures, we would be able to significantly reduce our collective carbon footprint from travelling.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to make travelling more sustainable?

July 23, 2023
5 min read