How to Green Your Holiday Travel Once and For All

For most of us, Thanksgiving was only the beginning of the season in which we travel to visit friends and family. Here’s how to make your treks more environmentally friendly.

1. Prepare your house.

Household leaks waste a lot of water, so check your home carefully before an extended absence. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, for instance, leaks take up as much as 12 percent of the city’s water demand—a total of 347.12 million gallons, the Santa Fe Reporter notes. A handful of the town’s biggest residential water guzzlers got where they are today by leaving their homes for an extended vacation—and overlooking a leaky water line. Don’t be them.

Get bonus points by unplugging your electronics, pausing your newspaper delivery and turning down the thermostat, as the Greatist suggests.

2. Think it through if you fly.

For many, flying is a person’s biggest individual contribution to climate change. And if you go first-class, your footprint is even worse—up to nine times higher than those in economy, according to a World Bank study. What’s a person short on vacation time but high on conscience to do? Some airlines, like Delta, offer the opportunity to buy carbon offsets for as little as $5, notes the Smithsonian. These allow for you to pay to remove the amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that your trip generated.

Also, if you have a choice, the International Council on Clean Transportation reports on the efficiency of various airline carriers.

3. Or just avoid flying at all costs.

The Smithsonian suggests using a carbon emissions calculator to see if your trip would be more green if you drove. Better yet, consider taking a bus or train, which emit as much as seven times less gas than traveling by plane, as the Greatist reports.

“A substantial shift of passengers and freight from road and air to rail would benefit everyone through reduced congestion and less damage to the environment,” notes a UK study. It adds that the move could also benefit public health, as experts estimate up to 24,000 people in the country die prematurely each year due to bad air-quality. Car exhaust is a major contributor.

4. Rethink where you’ll stay.

Best case scenario: You’ll stay with family or friends—or use a site like Couch Surfer to find someone to host you. But if you’d rather not, you can find a hotel that’s more sustainable than the others by consulting organizations that list greener lodging.

And reuse those towels if you’re staying a few days. As Scientific American notes, large hotels can go through millions of gallons of water a year from daily laundering. Plus, other guests are doing it. (Studies show that guests are more likely to reuse when encouraged to hop on the bandwagon over saving the environment.)

5. Pay attention to the little things.

The rules of conservation remain the same no matter where you are in the world. From using an e-ticket to save paper when traveling, to trying to eat locally, to recycling and reusing waste, to taking public transportation or carpooling once you reach your destination, it all adds up. Environmental degradation has no vacation, but you can still choose to relax responsibly.

Credit: Thinkstock.


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Sharon S.
Sharon S3 years ago

Excellent ideas, thanks for this informative article.

Cela V.
Cela V3 years ago


Dainy Arroyo
Dainy Arroyo3 years ago

Good! Thanks you for the ideas! I travel often I´ll think about them. Blessings.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Share the joy with our homeland

Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine A3 years ago

Good ideas all. Thanks for sharing. I had never heard of couch surfer, will give a look or sure as I love bed and breakfasts.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O3 years ago

Hotels do encourage us to re-use towels, as obviously it saves them money too.

Carol S.
Carol S3 years ago

Thanks, I always try to offset my footprint.

Effra W.
Effra W3 years ago

Overly simplistic header, but thanks for sharing the article. We all have to fly as little as possible. Other reductions pale by comparison though anything is better than nothing.