How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint While Traveling
If you love traveling and take vacations away from home, you’re not alone. An estimated 1.4 billion people on the planet travel somewhere at least once every year. Unfortunately, the travel industry is partly responsible for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions compared to other sectors.
Concerns over climate change and environmental issues should cause every traveler to pause and consider their carbon footprint. And by adhering to the following good travel habits, we can work together to reduce our wanderlust carbon footprints.
Consider RV Road Trips
Recreational Vehicles (RVs) were already popular and became even more so during the pandemic of 2020. That’s a good thing because according to RV Insight, RV vacations are more environmentally friendly than traditional airline/hotel vacations. The study compared the carbon emissions of a family of four traveling by RV for vacation with that of flying to a hotel and renting a car. The RV vacation produced a lower carbon footprint in the comparison.
Learn the joys of RV vacationing by renting one through RVShare, a program that works similar to Airbnb. But if you’re ready to purchase an RV, look for one with the Certified Green badge. This honor is awarded by TRA certification and based on points earned for features like low-flow water fixtures, low-VOC materials used in construction, and for having environmental toilets that compost. These toilets reduce volume by about 30% and break down waste into nutrients for use in local areas.
Stay Longer and Fly Cheaper
Employees typically get a few weeks for time off each year. Rather than taking a week off in between certain months, take two or three consecutive weeks off instead. Longer vacations will mean fewer flights each year. Aside from that, you can do your research and try to find an airline that has invested in improving fuel efficiency or has adopted a carbon offset program. Examples are JetBlue, which offers flight offsets, while Southwest and British Airways are known to recycle cabin waste.
Since more emissions are released during takeoff and landing, strive to book nonstop flights instead. And while Flying First Class or Business Class is nice, these options mean more space per seat and allow for more luggage, which means more carbon per passenger.
Choose The Right Travel Gear
Buying the right gear for travel can make a big difference in the environment. For example, most people will take an ABS plastic carry-on suitcase on their trip which takes a lot of fuel to produce. However, an alternative canvas backpack is far more sustainable and fashionable.
Similarly, you might want to bring your own reusable water bottle, ideally one with a filter, to save you from having to buy bottled water all the time. Not only does this minimize plastic use, but it saves on water processing too.
Hop On The Bus (Or Train)
The “flight shaming” movement has recently swept across Europe. Air travelers have been scorned and shamed into traveling due to the availability of eco-friendly methods such as buses and trains. This is long overdue since the airline industry is responsible for roughly two percent of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
Use Public Transportation Or Bikes
Upon reaching your destination, book an airport shuttle rather than renting a car or hailing a cab. Try to go around your destination using public transportation. Most cities have buses, trolleys, trains, and subways that can help you travel from one site to another. Some places are more fun to explore by foot or bike rental. This way, you’ll use less gas and travel around in a more eco-friendly manner.
Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations
Many hotel chains have joined the eco-friendly bandwagon. For example, the Hilton hotels have promised to cut their environmental footprint in half by 2030. When booking, look for a hotel with a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
If you cannot find eco-friendly accommodations in your destination, you can still do your part with a few tricks. If your hotel room doesn’t need daily vacuuming, hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door while you’re out. Hang towels to dry so they can be reused, and use lights, heating, and air conditioning only when necessary. Lastly, make sure to return brochures or maps on the front desk, and take leftover toiletries home with you since they will be thrown out anyway.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
Carbon Offsets work by paying someone else to reduce carbon emissions when you can’t. It’s a great way for frequent travelers to give back to the planet. Carbon offsetting ranges from investing in reforestation to projects involving the development of clean energy sources in various countries. Many of these organizations are non-profit and will qualify as a tax write-off.