More and more, people are thinking about how to travel green. Many people are convinced that cutting down on air travel is a good thing – and I’m one of them. In fact, I recently wrote a post here at Indie Travel Podcast on the added benefits of eco travel, and why we should cut down on our air travel. But there are other things that we can reduce our carbon footprint while out on the road – and they are all things that we can do easily, without altering our style of travel much at all.

Travel light

Travelling light has many benefits. You have less to cart about with you as you travel, there are no excess luggage charges, and it’s easy to pack and unpack if you are visiting a number of different destinations. More importantly however, the lighter your case or backpack, the less fuel is used on whatever mode of transport you are on. The less fuel is used, the less carbon emissions are produced. It’s that simple!

Choose direct flights

Air travel is one of the largest contributors to greenhouses gases throughout the world. At times it is just not practical to travel without a flight, but there are things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and still fly when necessary. Taking a direct flight can greatly reduce your emissions. Planes discharge 70% of their CO2 emissions during take-off and landing. It’s simple math that if you reduce the amount of times you are taking off and landing to the bare minimum, then your carbon emissions will be lower than if you take a number of flights. 

When travelling to the airport you can also reduce your emissions by using public transport as opposed to driving or getting a taxi like most people tend to do. Book online and get an electronic ticket to reduce the amount of paper wasted.

Fuel-efficient vehicles

No matter how eco-friendly you try to be, there is no denying that sometimes it is just a whole lot easier and quicker to take the car. You may feel bad about doing so, but there are still a lot of ways you can hop in the car and greatly reduce your carbon emissions. For instance, improve your MPG (miles per gallon) by keeping your tyres properly inflated, employing steady acceleration, and driving at a steady speed. Also, the less weight you carry in your car, the less emissions it produces, so try to only carry essential items, and don’t leave things in the boot if you are not using them. You could also try carpooling or using alternative forms of fuel, or switch to a hybrid car.

Carry a water bottle

Sounds simple but so much waste is produced every year from plastic water bottles that could easily have been re-used. Don’t just buy another bottle when you run out. Save some money and re-fill the one you’ve already got. Encourage others to do the same.

Walk, walk, walk!

Walking is probably the simplest and easiest option to curb your carbon footprint! It may be stating the obvious, but all too often people are too quick to jump in the car, or go on a short bus journey, when by simply going by foot instead they would be lowering their emissions, and also able to take in their surroundings so much more! If a journey is a bit too far to walk, then hop on your bike and cycle there. It’s great exercise, will save you money on fuel, and the knock-on effects include improved outdoor air quality and less congestion on the roads.

We need to protect the world we live in — without it we would not be able to travel in the first place. You can improve the world a little by following these five simple steps to reduce your carbon emissions.

All uncredited images courtesy of Stock.XCHNG

Your thoughts on "Top five ways to travel green"

  • Never thought about the direct flight situation before! Unfortunately, for little isolated islands like the one I live on, it's kinda impossible. :-/

    on June 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm Reply
  • great tips! thanks!

    on June 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm Reply
  • What island's that Candice?

    on June 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm Reply
  • I'm sorry, but this article is bunk. Saying "try to reduce your takeoffs and landings to reduce CO2" is a little bit like saying "wear socks in the pool so your feet don't get as wet."

    on June 16, 2010 at 10:27 pm Reply
    • So how would you phrase it, Drew? Flying less reduces your personal "carbon footprint" (as useless as that term is). Admittedly it only makes sense if it means less planes in the air, but that's not something in the realm of possibilities most individuals can change. I'm playing devil's advocate a little here, but I'm keen to know more about your thoughts.

      on June 17, 2010 at 12:12 am Reply
  • Nice article, Jane. A sensible approach which I believe is slowly becoming the accepted norm. The only thing I'd say is, none of these things will actually reduce our carbon footprint. Carbon levels are a constant, it just depends whether they're sequestered in trees or nagging away at the ozone. We won't reduce our carbon footprint by following this advice, but we will stop it from growing. To reduce the amount of carbon, you need to reverse the process: plant some trees. But then, the trees will grow old, and die, and release your carbon again. @Craig: I'd say Drew was simply trolling.

    on June 17, 2010 at 4:07 am Reply
  • One other issue I've heard of is that night time flying is worse than daytime flying and according to Larry's Environmental Issues Blog it's because: "At night, the warming effect is magnified, because there is no reflective cooling effect to help counter it. And the problem becomes worse in winter, when cold, moist air is more likely to exist at all elevations. According to the researchers, contrails are almost twice as likely to form in winter than in summer."

    on June 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm Reply
  • @Craig: Newfoundland! The big giant rock in Atlantic Canada.

    on June 18, 2010 at 1:22 pm Reply
  • @Candice Sounds intriguing. It is an interesting place to visit?

    on June 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm Reply
  • What nobody ever seems to mention in these carbon footprint articles is, what happens if you---just you---don't get on that plane or you take a connecting flight rather than a direct one? Nothing, that's what. The planes are going on their routes whether you are on them are not. So unless all the passengers make a collective decision not to fly, as many did during the recession, then your individual actions amount to spit in the wind. You're better off taking the last seat on a flight than driving in almost all circumstances because your additional load is insignificant.

    on June 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm Reply
  • If one person walks into the road, the traffic swerves. If a hundred people walk into the road, they have the power to stop the traffic.

    on June 23, 2010 at 2:54 am Reply
  • @Luxury Traveler If one person doesn't take a flight then it might make a difference. The last seats to be sold on an aircraft are sold at some of the highest prices. By not buying that last seat you will be affect the profitability of that route more than buying the first seat up for sale. Airlines exist to make a profit. If a route becomes unprofitable it will get dropped. There are alternatives to flying and driving by car. If they are supported, then capacity will increase. It is not green to fly away for short time. Travelling slower and longer is best. @Jane, Another big impact you can have while travelling is to eat local, in season food and eat less meat. Livestock is often reared using soya beans grown in Brazil that were created by felling rainforest.

    on June 24, 2010 at 7:15 am Reply
  • Great article and really interesting discussion. Well, maybe one person doesn't make a difference, but the more people the bigger their impact. It's like vegetarianism - if one person stops eating meat it does not change the amount of meat produced. But if most of the population stopped eating meat the demand would decrease, which would affect the supply.

    on June 24, 2010 at 7:34 am Reply
  • @Daniel If most of the population stopped eating meat we'd be overrun by cows, pigs and sheep and inevitably end up slaughtering most of them. So to avoid mass slaughter, keep eating meat.

    on June 25, 2010 at 4:33 am Reply
  • "But if most of the population stopped eating meat the demand would decrease." And if all the Palestinians laid down their arms and the Israelis stopped building settlements, there would be peace in the Middle East. Both are a pipe dream, as is the naive hope that everyone will decide to stop flying because it's good for the environment. There's too much at stake for business travelers, vacationers with a short break, and families returning to their relatives for that to ever ever happen. Unless we run out of fuel, that is. The only time the masses stop flying is when they can't afford it. Everyone else is indeed just spit in the wind.

    on July 4, 2010 at 9:06 pm Reply
  • Re-using plastic water bottles more than once is not recommended. You don't want to be drinking the plastic. Best to buy an aluminum or metal-covered glass bottle that you keep with you. It's cheaper, too.

    on July 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm Reply
  • Great article! It's nice to feel that with some effort I can offset some of the guilt of the damage done while flying to all my destinations. Julia Dimon has a good article with some handy tips about traveling green, you should check it out at

    on July 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm Reply
  • @Ninna Perhaps you ought to look up for another view on offsetting.

    on August 3, 2010 at 8:38 am Reply

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