Green Tip: Sustainable Holiday Traveling

Green Tips | November 3, 2017

Traveling somewhere this upcoming Holiday season? We have some tips for you to reduce your carbon footprint, wherever you plan to go. Whether it be reducing your consumption while on vacation, or saving greenhouse gas emissions by taking non-stop flights or train rides, we have advice to make your holidays greener.

When traveling, it is important to pay attention to the method you are using.  Try avoiding using a single-occupancy vehicle, and short-distance flying.  Rather, take advantage of trains, buses, and carpools. The Sightline Institute has prepared data showing the difference in emissions per travel method. For example, taking the train releases approximately ¼ the emissions per rider compared to a single-occupancy vehicle, with carpools releasing approximately ? the single-occupancy amount. If you are flying, do your best to avoid layovers. Reducing the amount of times you take-off and land will require less fuel resources per person, leading to a cut in your overall emissions. Combined with your transportation option, pack light. Decreasing the weight of your suitcase or luggage will lower the amount of fuel needed to carry the extra weight.

If you are set on driving, or are required to in order to reach your destination, there are a few tips to consider before you hit the road. Remember to perform regular vehicle maintenance to keep your car running in tip-top shape. Doing so reduces emissions and increases your fuel economy, and overall vehicle efficiency. Regular maintenance includes simple tasks such as properly inflating your tires, changing your air filter, and changing your oil. Be sure to pay attention to when you will be traveling, and aim to avoid peak travel times. Not only is traffic frustrating, but idling produces high levels of emissions and wastes fuel.

Once you have made it to your destination via car, non-stop flight, or train ride, consider finding a hotel with a LEED certification and ask if the hotel has a recycling program and locally sourced foods and items.

Many people go on excursions while they are on vacation, but do not get thrown into a tour group without the environment in mind. Not only can you support local tourism businesses instead of corporations, but you can go on excursions that show you the local area and give back to nearby communities. If you are considering hiking or embarking on another wildlife adventure, such as snorkeling or scuba diving, be sure to not disturb wildlife and leave everything you find. Bringing back an object found in nature on a vacation can bring invasive species and cause damage to ecosystems at home.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Green Travel FAQ provides an extensive review of your domestic travel options and needs, helping you to make an educated and informed decision. You can also calculate your carbon footprint with sites such as By entering in your travel information, you will be provided with how much it will cost to offset your travel emissions.

All in all, enjoy yourself on holiday vacation but remember that a break from your daily, weekly, or monthly routine should not be a break from caring about the environment!

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