How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint When Traveling

Traveling can be a way of life or more of a hobby. Regardless of how long the trips are or how often you make the journey, traveling is always an adventure. That adventure does have some drawbacks, however. The more people travel, the larger their carbon footprint.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint while you travel. Everything from how you travel to what you buy can work to reduce your carbon emissions and their effects on the environment.  

The biggest trend in sustainable travel is the use of electric transportation. Some forms of public transportation have turned electric. Still others opt for electric cars of their own. These electric cars are a little less traditional but are still a great choice for travel.

Electric cars may be a little outside a traveler’s comfort zone, but it’s worth the adventure. Consider a Tesla model 3 for your next travel experience, but don’t forget Tesla model 3 insurance.

What is a carbon footprint?

The discussion of sustainable travel always comes around to carbon footprint. But what is a carbon footprint? A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by one person. 

Carbon dioxide is emitted when an individual burns fossil fuels. Whenever someone drives a car, flies on a plane, or even eats certain foods, they participate in burning fossil fuels. 

The more these fuels are burned, the bigger the carbon footprint. The size of a person’s carbon footprint may seem small, but there are major consequences for each and every carbon footprint. 

Effects of Carbon on the Environment

A carbon footprint and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may seem like small concerns, but they do have real effects on the environment. The increase of carbon dioxide emissions in recent years has created a dangerous “greenhouse effect” on the Earth.

The “greenhouse effect” is the trapping of more heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. More heat means the Earth is heating more quickly than it would naturally, and that is damaging many ecosystems across the planet.

There is flooding in areas that shouldn’t flood. There is melting in areas that should be solid ice. It all comes back to how much carbon dioxide each person puts into the atmosphere.

12 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Keep Traveling

None of this should keep anyone from traveling. The threat of a carbon footprint and increasing greenhouse gases doesn’t mean you can’t see the world or experience new places. There are a number of ways to reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing your travel experiences. 

#1 – Travel by Car, Bus, or Train

Planes are big contributors of carbon emissions. One plane trip can produce more carbon emissions than one person is responsible for in an entire year. This doesn’t mean you should never fly, but take a second before you book that next flight.

If your final destination is fairly close to home, consider driving rather than flying. If driving isn’t an option, try out a charter bus or train. Both are more eco-friendly ways to get from one place to another and help keep your carbon footprint smaller.

#2 – Find Non-Stop Flights

If your destination is oceans away, then flying is the most reasonable option for travel. When this is the case, try to find non-stop flights. Non-stop flights streamline your travel days and cut back on carbon emissions.

Planes release the most carbon dioxide during the takeoffs and landings. Non-stop flights cut down on the number of these, so there are fewer carbon emissions and you have a smaller carbon footprint.

#3 – Fly Economy

Your carbon footprint is directly related to the size of your space on an airplane. First-class seats are more comfortable, but they are bigger in size as well. If you have to fly, downsize to that economy class.

#4 – Don’t Overpack

How and what you pack can also affect your carbon footprint. The heavier your luggage, the more fuel it takes to transport it. The more fuel burned during that travel means more carbon dioxide emitted. Make sure you are packing only what you need and are using a lightweight bag. 

#5 – Slow Down

If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, consider streamlining your itinerary. Instead of cramming in multiple stops in a single trip, consider taking fewer but longer vacations. This will help you enjoy the places you visit and keep the environment healthier. 

#6 – Evaluate Transportation

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, how will you get around? Unless you’ve embarked on a road trip, you’ll need a way to get around town and explore. Consider public transportation like buses, streetcars, or the subway to minimize your carbon footprint while you travel. 

There are many transportation options available, so look for more eco-friendly options. If you are looking to rent a car, consider something electric. There are a number of great electric car options available to rent through most rental companies. Tesla cars offer space, style, comfort, and no carbon emissions, which can really help reduce your carbon footprint. 

#7 – Limit A/C, Heat, and Electronic Use

There are even more ways to reduce your carbon footprint once you arrive at your vacation spot. Consider cutting back on your energy consumption. Try to limit the air conditioning, heating, and overall electronic use. Open a few windows, add an extra blanket to the bed, and get outside.

#8 – Reduce and Reuse

The old saying “reduce, reuse, and recycle” is just as relevant on vacation. Try to limit the amount of waste you produce while you travel. Reuse the towels in your hotel room and limit the number of times your room is vacuumed to save on energy.

You can even pack eco-friendly travel products to reduce the amount of waste and energy you use. All of this will keep your carbon footprint small and the environment cooler.

#9 – Choose Local

Keep your experience as local as possible. Try to eat the local cuisine. If you eat local food, the food doesn’t have to be imported. 

If your food isn’t imported, then fewer fossil fuels are needed in getting and preparing your food. Eating locally helps keep your carbon footprint down and helps you immerse yourself in the culture around you. 

#10 – Select Souvenirs Carefully

Souvenirs are an essential part of the travel experience, but the souvenirs you select can help reduce your carbon footprint. Make sure your souvenirs are useful, practical, and handmade. This will help keep your souvenirs out of the landfill and in your home. Look for local handmade gifts wherever you travel. 

#11 – Support Sustainable Efforts in Tourism Options

Research your destination and look for local sustainable tourism efforts. Many hotels are taking steps to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. In your effort to reduce your carbon footprint, support businesses that are doing the same.

You can also try to find eco-friendly hotels or immerse yourself in the local culture. You can stay in someone’s home through home-sharing options or programs. These options support the local economy and limit carbon emissions. It’s a win-win situation.

#12 – Buy Carbon Offsets

If all else fails, buy carbon offsets. A carbon offset is a form of trade that helps fund projects that work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The projects you support can be anything from replanting deforested areas around the world to updating power plants to reduce carbon emissions.

Traveling sustainably is possible, but it takes a little more research and commitment. It also brings you deeper, more vibrant experiences in the areas you visit. Keep traveling and reduce that carbon footprint. 

About the Author

Laura Gunn researches and writes for the car insurance comparison site, She and her family are avid roadtrippers who like to find new ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Laura Gunn

Laura Gunn