How to be a More Environmentally Friendly Traveller

Our world has never experienced so many tourists. Last year alone a whopping 1.7 billion trips were made by holiday makers and this figure is only expected to rise. However, all this travel is having a far worse impact on the planet than we realised.

In a recent study published by Nature Climate Change, it was revealed that tourism’s global carbon footprint has increased to be four times higher than previously estimated. With the industry now accounting for around 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

With so many incredible destinations around the world, it’s clear we’re not going to stop travelling anytime soon. So the best solution is to adapt how we travel to lessen our impact. Find out how to reduce your carbon footprint and more with our tips on environmentally friendly travel.

A reusable water bottle in the Carpathian Mountains
Taking a reusable bottle reduces plastic waste

Buy a reusable water bottle

Up to 12.7 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans each year – the equivalent of one truck load per minute. This plastic is travelling on ocean currents and having a devastating impact on marine life. And plastic bottles are a big part of the problem.

By choosing to take a reusable water bottle on your travels, you’ll save yourself from having to buy lots of small plastic bottles. This way you’ll not only be helping reduce waste from single-use plastic, but saving yourself money in the long run. A win-win situation if you ask us.

A scenic train journey
You can reduce your carbon footprint by taking the train instead of flying

Choose the train

Flying has never been so cheap and we’re all taking advantage. Some 20,000 aeroplanes are now in use around the world generating vast amounts of carbon dioxide. But whilst for some journeys air travel is vital, when you’re travelling regionally it’s much more environmentally friendly to take a car, bus or train.

Besides reducing your carbon footprint, there are many other benefits to taking the train. Without having to measure out your toiletries, pay for extra baggage or queue for airport security, there’s far less hassle. And alongside the scenic views, you’ll be enjoying the fact that rail travel is statistically safer too.

Airplane on the runway
Fly less by taking longer holidays instead of mini breaks

Take fewer mini breaks

If you’re looking to fly less and don’t fancy the train, then another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to opt for longer trips. According to the Office of National Statistics, UK citizens are increasingly choosing regular weekend getaways rather than a holiday lasting a week or two.

However by choosing a longer itinerary, you’re not only helping the planet, but giving yourself more of a holiday. With a longer time-frame you can truly immerse yourself in another country and culture, instead of getting just a taster. And you’ll have a much more relaxing time if you’re not cramming in all the ‘must-see’ sights in two days.

The light switch in a modern bedroom
Remember to turn off the lights and appliances in your hotel room

Behave like you would at home

There’s always the notion whilst you’re abroad to let go of the norms of home and treat yourself. But whilst your holiday certainly is the time to indulge, there’s plenty of greener practices that you should be keeping up at home and overseas.

Treat your accommodation as you would your own home. Pretend it’s you paying the electric bill and turn off the lights and appliances you aren’t using. Keep your showers short to save water and don’t put the heating or air conditioning on for longer than necessary.

Man holding a tree to be planted
Offset your flight by helping fund tree planting initiatives

Offset your flight

More carbon dioxide is produced from a long haul return flight than the average British motorist produces in a year. One way in which these high emissions are being combated is by many airlines offering the option to offset your flight.

By paying just a little extra, your emissions will be compensated for – with the funds going to projects involved in tree planting, renewable energy or conservation. It’s as simple as ticking an extra box when you book. Or, alternatively, calculate your emissions using an online carbon calculator and then pay a company to invest in a project for you.

A tropical beach in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally friendly destinations

Go to a green destination

As an eco-conscious tourist, you may also want to travel to an environmentally friendly destination. Each year the Ethical Traveller, a non-profit organisation, ranks developing countries around the world on their environmental protection, social welfare and human rights standards. Their results can help you make a more informed decision about your next trip.

Ranking as some of the best ethical destinations this year were Costa Rica, Chile and Belize. Approximately 160 different areas in Costa Rica are dedicated to protecting its environment and biodiversity. And with the country aiming to be carbon neutral by 2021, it’s clear why it made the list.

An eco lodge in the forest
Eco-friendly accommodation options range from camping to luxury lodges

Stay at a green hotel

Many hotels are guilty of poorly managing their waste, excessive energy consumption and overusing their water resources. But if you do your research, you’ll find there’s a wealth of eco-friendly accommodation out there offering just as great a stay.

Camping, home stays and Air BnB are all popular choices for those wanting to save both the environment and money. But being a more environmentally friendly traveller doesn’t mean you can’t still have luxury. From eco-friendly pods in the Swiss Alps to a carbon neutral hotel in Shanghai, there’s plenty of options without the environmental cost.

Towels on a hotel bed
Reusing your towels saves water and resources

Don’t change your towels every day

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, laundry accounts for around 16% of a hotel’s water usage. Guests are normally given the option to reuse their sheets and towels rather than have them changed daily. And this is an option you definitely should be taking.

By cutting down on a hotel’s laundry load, you’re helping save water and other resources. As less water is used this also leads to fewer chemicals making their way into the water system. You could even go one better and bring your own towel from home.


Got more environmentally friendly travel tips? Share them in the comments below. 

Leave a Reply