How to reduce your holiday carbon footprint

How to reduce your holiday carbon footprint

Whether you travel on holiday by plane, bus, boat or car your mode of travel will have some form of environmental impact. Currently there are no laws in place to monitor or regulate this, so it is up to us to be a little bit more aware when we are making our holiday choices. Minimising the environmental impact or carbon footprint of your travel does not have to mean pledging to travel by bike or holidaying in a yurt for the rest of your life, start off with a few of these lifestyle and travel choices .

First of all ….. eh….. What the heck does carbon footprint mean in the first place?  It is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are produced to support, both directly and indirectly, human activities. This is measured in equivalent tonnes of CO2 – carbon dioxide. Your footprint will be the sum of all the emissions that all your activities induced – ie car travel, electricity, flights, production of your food, production of the those carrier bags bring your food home from the supermarket.

If this has opened your eyes a little and you want to learn more, I have found the following websites helpful to easily work out my overall environmental footprint.

Our lifestyle choices each day impact our carbon footprint and especially so when we go on holiday.  Here are some top tips to help reduce your environmental impact on holiday.

Before you leave even leave home

Minimising your environmental travel footprint starts even before you have left home. Ticking off a few of these points are a great place to begin.

  • Pack a little lighter – Less heavy suitcases need less fuel to carry them. Do you really need 10 pairs of shoes to come on your trip? Unless you are a stylist packing for a photo shoot why not think about the weight of your bag and not just in a way to stop the budget airlines fining you for being over your luggage allowance. Layout your clothes and work out what you will wear each day. This was something I started to do when the kids were smaller. It really helps to reduce the amount of clothes you pack. Take travel sized bottles or samples of your favourite shampoo or moisturiser instead of taking a brand new bottle to save even more on weight.
  • Bring your own – I always bring re-useable water bottles for me and the kids whenever we travel. This helps reduce the amount of plastic bottles we use. I also try to pack one foldable shopping bag to take to the supermarket at our destination. Hopefully you will be able to recycle any locally bought plastic bottles or paper at your resort.
  •  Turn off – Unplug any electronics that are not going to be used when you are away.  Also consider turning down the heating thermostat which will help cut down on energy usage.

How you travel

Sometimes going by car, foot, local transport, bike or boat is not an option to reach your holiday destination. Given that flying arguably produces the largest carbon footprint for travellers, I will concentrate on this area. Realistically if you are travelling from Scotland to Peru then flying is probably your only option, however you can still make green travel choices when deciding how to get to your destination. It can start with trying to take direct flights were possible since having fewer take offs and landings saves fuel. Sometimes you can’t take a direct flight, so why not consider choosing smaller airports for your stopover. More often than not it will be cheaper and your plane will be less likely to be put in an air traffic control holding pattern or stacking system before landing …. which requires more fuel to be taken on board before you fly ….. which requires more fuel to carry the weight of the extra fuel!

All planes are not equal. Did you also know that some airlines have more energy-efficient planes? For example Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is 20% more fuel-efficient due to being more aerodynamic with wingtip devices and being made from lighter materials. Newer designed planes ultimately also will help you arrive more refreshed at your destination, feeling less tired and dehydrated due to their improved cabin air quality. If you are toying with flying economy instead of business or first class, this is a great choice that will help reduce your emissions through the increased passenger capacity on the plane. More passengers on a plane equals less carbon footprint per passenger.

Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Do you offset your travel? Technological advancements are not quite at the stage of having planes and trains being powered by a renewable source of fuel, in the meantime many  travel companies let their customers know how they help reduce their environmental footprint of CO2 emissions. On top of that, websites like, and will help work out carbon emissions and offer ways to offset them.

Choosing a greener place to stay?

You work hard throughout the year and deserve/need/love a holiday to help you re-charge. If you are camping, staying with family or being pampered in 5 star luxury there are ways to minimise the impact of your holiday and still enjoy your stay. Having a greener vacation does not mean having to sacrifice the luxuries in life while staying in a Yurt and knitting your own yoghurt?  Across the board more and more hotels are putting an emphasis on sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint and being more eco-friendly.  Dear reader, these eco-luxe hotels are puffing their chests out to show that they are positively adjusting their property’s environmental impact, in fact these high-end properties are going to great lengths in order maximise their green credentials.

Start of with a look at a property’s website, this will give you a great idea of their green credentials, environmental ethics and sustainability policy. Things to look out for include:- Built using locally sourced products; Energy efficient light-bulbs; Less Water; Recycling bins; Eco-friendly toiletries; Free bikes for guests; Renewable sources of energy;  Protect local environment; Organic food;  Locally sourced food;  Recycled paper; Energy efficient cooling systems.

If you don’t know where to start looking then I recommend taking a look at the hotels in TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Programme,  Green Traveller, Green Globe and also Mr & Mrs Smith who have a great section on eco-friendly hotels.

During your stay

Bravo, you have travelled to your destination efficiently, you have chosen a hotel with great green credentials and awesome sustainability policy. Don’t stop there. Here are a few more ways to pick up some extra green points!

  • Treat your energy consumption at the hotel as you would your own at home. Turn the lights and air-conditioning off when you leave your room. Don’t ask to have your towels and bed sheets changed everyday. Turn off that tap when you are brushing your teeth.
  • Eat locally sourced food. Try the local food specialities.
  • Recycle your paper, glass and plastic waste.
  • Get to know the local area by foot, on a bike or using public transportation.

Some award-winning eco-friendly hotels and resorts to look out for are Martinhal, VILA VITA ParcLefay Resorts, Una St Ives, The Landmark Hotel London, Sands Resorts (inc The Palazzo and The Venetian in Las Vegas). All of them have great green initiatives for their guests.

Where can I book?

If you are starting to consider you next holiday why not try to adopt a greener way to holiday.  I hope that some of these tips will help you reduce your carbon footprint or find a greener way to holiday. Minimising the environmental impact of your travel does not have to mean only riding your bike whilst staying in a yurt. There are lots of great ways to reduce your own carbon footprint. I would love to hear from you. Have you ever offset your travel? Are you aware of your carbon footprint? Do you seek out travel providers based on their green credentials.

Bye for now.