The fact is that when we travel we tend to create a larger carbon footprint than when at home.  We often have a holiday vibe when we’re abroad, and this makes us a little more carefree.  This is taking its toll on the planet, as everywhere from beaches to ski slopes are beginning to suffer. 

According to the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, tourism is responsible for 5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.  Between January to April this year, 348 million people took an international trip.  This is an increase of over 5% when compared to last year. 

So what can we do to make our travel plans more sustainable?  Here are some ideas to get you started.

Choose Green Always

Choosing green doesn’t mean you have to stay in a high-tech eco cabin.  It can be a case of hiring electric cars or staying in sustainable hotels.  Always look out for LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  These hotels have sustainability built in, minimising water and non renewable energy consumption.   To take this further, see if they source local produce, use green products, and have good recycling practices.


As you have probably guessed travel is a significant contributor to tourist carbon footprints.  The biggest culprit is the flight to another country.  Although sometimes unavoidable sometimes it isn’t.  It is possible to reach many destinations in Europe by train and bus.  Many are reachable by ship.  These measures make all the difference.

Even if you just get around your holiday destination using public transport or travel to and from the airport by bus instead of a taxi, you are making a positive contribution to climate change.  Everything is accumulative in reducing your carbon footprint.

BYO Bottle

Using a refillable water bottle makes an amazing difference to your tourist carbon footprint.  Although plastic bottles are recyclable, only one in six make it to a recycling plant and they use a tremendous amount of fossil fuels to be created in the first instance.  Many are discarded on hiking trails or the beach where recycling opportunities don’t exist.  They often make it into the aquatic food chain and in 450 years that plastic bottle will not have decomposed.

Although some places public water is unsafe to drink, you could use them in combination with purification tablets.  A refillable water bottle makes all the difference to your carbon footprint.


Another key aspect in reducing your carbon footprint and contributing to the zero waste economy is to adopt a more responsible behaviour.  This doesn’t impact on how many beers you have so you have no need to worry. Consider:

  • Hang the do not disturb sign on the hotel door so energy is not used hovering it.  Do you hoover your bedroom every day when you’re at home?
  • Switch off the lights, television, and air conditioning when you go out
  • Take shorter rather than long showers, and use eco friendly bathroom toiletries

Sustainable tourism is possible with a little thought.  So plan your next trip with this in mind.