Happy Travels: 16 Tips for Greening Your Vacation

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Now that spring is here, many people are starting to plan their summer vacation. Whether you’re looking to go across the world or merely across your state, these 16 tips will help reduce your carbon footprint.


  • Book direct flights, or as few transfers as possible (takeoffs and landings use lots of fuel).
  • Rent a hybrid minivan and vacation with friends to save on fuel and costs.
  • Vacation closer to home and visit nearby state or national parks, or a new birding trail.
  • If you’re visiting an exotic locale, consider doing an eco-volunteer vacation.
  • When booking accommodations, whether at home or abroad, ask about environmental certifications, like Sustainable Travel International or Green Globe.
  • Trains are a great way to travel; Amtrak’s Northeast trains, which run on electricity, are the cleanest rail option. So consider a trip to New York, Boston, or Washington, D.C.
  • When flying, avoid booking a first-class seat, which takes twice as much room and therefore twice as much carbon as an economy seat.
  • A bus will cut your carbon in half, even compared with a hybrid car; taking a bus instead of flying can cut your emissions by 75 percent. Visit GotoBus.com, Greyhound, Trailways.
  • Fly airlines with newer, more efficient fleets.


  • Fly light—lugging aboard 10 extra pounds per passenger requires an additional 350 million gallons of jet fuel 
    annually (enough to fly a 747 continuously for a decade).
  • Bring your own reusable water bottles (if you're flying, make sure the containers are empty when you pass through security).
  • Pack snacks/meals in reusable containers.


  • Traffic congestion boosts emissions, so avoid driving
    during peak times.
  • Save fuel by properly inflating your tires.
  • At your destination, ask about public transportation, or even rent bikes.
  • Support sustainable local businesses. Check these websites: greenmap.org for shops and activities,dinegreen.com for certified eco restaurants, and localharvest.org for farmers’ markets.

Bon voyage!

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