We’ve seen over the last year how a global crisis could bring travel to an abrupt halt. While the pandemic is still a concern, another threat to humanity and the destinations we love is climate change.
Tourism has been under increased scrutiny in recent years for its role in the climate emergency. As people became more aware about their impacts, we started hearing the term “flight shame” There is no doubt that tourism plays a part in the climate crisis. A 2018 study showed that tourism is responsible for 8 percent of global carbon emissions. This webpage provides a breakdown on the various activities that contribute to tourism’s carbon footprint. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t travel. Tourism is booming again, which allows us to rethink how we travel and make responsible choices. There are many things you can do to reduce your travel emissions and help the industry move towards a more sustainable future.
Check out our tips to reduce carbon emissions on your next trip.
1. Avoid flying to distant destinations
Tourism’s largest carbon footprint is made up of air travel and other modes of transport. Did you know that one flight can generate more carbon than a year’s worth of emissions? For example, a round trip flight from Chicago to London can produce approximately 2.2 metric tons CO2 per passenger. This is twice what the average Guatemalan person produces in CO2 per passenger on a round-trip flight from Chicago to London. Some believe that the answer is to not fly but we know that tourism is an important driver of economic growth in many places that cannot be reached by plane. It would be a disaster for the millions of people who depend on tourism to support their livelihoods. We don’t recommend that you stop flying; however, it is better to limit air travel to destinations further away. There are many options to travel closer to home and replace your air travel with more sustainable means of transport. Charter buses and trains are generally the most climate-friendly options. How about driving? Consider how many passengers will be traveling in your car. Driving a car is more environmentally friendly than flying on a plane if you are traveling alone. If you are traveling with your whole family, a road trip is likely to be the best choice.
2. Non-stop flights available
Book a non-stop flight if you travel by plane. This will help reduce your carbon footprint. Non-stop flights require less fuel because they take the shortest route to their destination than those with multiple legs. Take a trip from Los Angeles to Manila. The distance between the two destinations is 7,292 miles. The journey will take you 7,600 miles if you include a stopover in Taiwan. These 300 additional miles add 163 pounds of carbon dioxide to each passenger’s carbon footprint. Non-stop flights are also possible despite the shorter flight distance. A lesser-known fact is that planes emit the most carbon during takeoff and landing. So that you can only take off and land once, it is better to book one long flight than several shorter ones. You can find a nonstop flight if you don’t have the option. Choose the route that is the most direct and has the fewest stops.
3. Fly economy
Flying in economy class has one advantage. This will reduce your carbon footprint. Because air passengers’ emissions are affected by how much space they use on a plane, this is why you should do so. Business class seats are on average two times more than economy. This means that the carbon footprint of a business class passenger is twice as large as that of an economy traveler. First class seats take up more space and leave a larger carbon footprint. Book Economy to Save Money on Your Tickets and the Planet!
4. Be light
It takes more fuel to transport heavy luggage by plane, bus or car. To reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, pack your bags as lightly as you can. Consider carefully what you will put in your lightweight suitcase. You should bring clothing you can use multiple times and that is washable easily while on the move. You can rent larger items, such as camping gear, at home. Take out any packaging and place your toiletries in small, reusable containers. We found that a 15-pound reduction in luggage would reduce your carbon emissions by approximately 80 pounds for a ten-hour flight. Imagine 200 passengers traveling on your flight, and all of them packing light. It would reduce CO2 emissions by 16,000 pounds!
5. Slow it down
It’s easy to become overwhelmed, rushed, and operate at a rapid pace these days. It should be a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, but we often plan vacations that are more chaotic than our everyday lives. Spending more time at one place will slow things down, rather than trying to visit every “must-see”, location. Instead of taking multiple shorter vacations each year, consider taking a longer vacation. This will enable you to experience the destination more deeply and make deeper connections. You can also slow down the pace of things, which will reduce the emissions you generate by travelling between many places. We are positive that you will feel refreshed when you return from your vacation and not like you have to go on another vacation.
6. To explore your destination, choose efficient transport
The journey to your destination is only one part. You will need to find a way around once you have arrived, unless you brought your own car. You don’t have to hire a driver or rent a car. Instead, take the plunge and use public transportation. Use the subway. Get on a bus. You can also take a streetcar. You should be aware that public transport efficiency can vary from one place to another. Many cities have bus and train systems that run on cleaner fuels, but others still use diesel or natural gas. To get around traffic jams, you can hop on an electric tuk-tuk. To make an informed decision, research all options available at the destination you’re interested in.