8 tips to be a more sustainable traveler

18 mins read


After the pandemic, many of us are understandably keen to get back out on the road. Personally, many of us are desperate for a change of scene. On a professional level, companies have seen the effects of lockdowns on their businesses. In a survey carried out in 2021, 49% of respondents reported feeling burnout, and 53% of employees believed that getting back to in-person meetings was crucial for their industry’s survival

But as the effects of climate change become more and more apparent, there is justifiable pressure for all of us to be more conscious of our carbon footprint. Sustainable travel is currently seeing a lot of focus from individuals and organizations alike. So how can we be more environmentally conscious and choose options that support local people, protect ecosystems, and reduce the negative impacts that travel can bring?

Below we share 8 sustainable travel tips and tricks everyone can employ to become more responsible travelers and ensure our itineraries are more environmentally friendly. So let’s dive in! 

the-10-best-inflight-wifi-experiences-for-business-travelers

1. Understand your travel habits  

Understanding your travel habits and the effect they have on the environment is a great way to reach your emission reduction targets. A service like GreenPerk API can help you reach your carbon emissions targets through clear and transparent data. For instance, it can help you break down the carbon emissions for each of your providers so you can choose the most environmentally friendly route for your destination.   

A tool like this can also help you identify which of your flight routes are emitting the most carbon. This can provide you with helpful insights on where you can try to find more environmentally-friendly options. For example, imagine that the majority of your company’s business trips take place between London and Paris, and the bulk of those trips are taken on the plane. GreenPerk API can help you spot that so you can then replace those flights with Eurostar train journeys and reduce your travel-related carbon footprint by as much as 75%!

When it comes to traveling more sustainably, having reliable information and data is key. With such information, you can start implementing greener travel policies that are easy to comply with and that will make a positive contribution to your company’s reduction goals. 

Sometimes flying is simply unavoidable. But you can still take steps to be a more sustainable traveler when traveling by plane. Carbon offsetting is one way to go about this as it counters your initial carbon-producing activity and makes it more “carbon neutral”. However, carbon offsetting is just the second thing you should do on your path to sustainable travel. While carbon offsetting is a way to help mitigate the effects of your travel on the environment, it’s not a long-term solution for businesses. 

Carbon offsetting works by ascribing a financial figure to each metric ton of carbon an activity creates. Known as carbon markets, the process effectively generates credits individuals or companies can buy to reduce their emissions. 

If you want to do this yourself, the first step is to calculate your carbon footprint to determine how many metric tons you need to offset. Afterwards, you can find a non-profit with an environmental project you would like to support and, through a donation, purchase the carbon credits that equal the number of tons of C02 you would like to mitigate.

However, finding the right projects to back and calculating your footprint can be tricky. That’s why many companies choose to work with a travel management tool that can do that for them. Our GreenPerk solution, for example, works with programs certified by VERRA (Verified Carbon Standard) to ensure every offset is efficient. There are many ways to make a meaningful difference, from investing in renewable energy in Turkey to capturing methane in Thailand. These projects are not just great for the environment, but they also support other key Sustainable Development Goals.   

3. Choose low-impact locations 

Making more eco-conscious decisions can start with something as simple as your destination. If your final stop isn’t set in stone, consider staying as local as possible. Even a new city or a national park a few hours away can often provide the perfect setting for a quick getaway or even a corporate offsite. 

If you are traveling as a group for a business meeting or company getaway, try to select somewhere to stay that reduces your collective mileage. 

Another consideration is the type of location you are looking for. Some cities have been awarded for their environmental approaches. Eco-minded destinations like Ljubljana have been voted the greenest city thanks to their water-saving initiatives and public transportation. Others like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Helsinki are striving for carbon neutrality in the coming years. 

If you’d rather avoid the big city, look for accommodation or tour operators that promote ecotourism and hire local guides to get the most out of your destination.

Woman traveling by train

4. Replace flights with rail   

One of the easiest ways to dramatically reduce your carbon emissions is to choose to take the train over a short-haul flight. Studies by the EEA revealed that rail travel generates 1/20th of the carbon emissions of an equivalent flight which perhaps goes a long way to explain why many European countries are shaking up the travel industry with legislation to curb domestic flights

In fact, a domestic flight, for example, emits approximately 255 grams of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (Co2e) per passenger per kilometer. A domestic train journey, on the other hand, emits just 41 grams of Co2e per passenger per kilometer! 

Check out this chart showing how much of an impact the different modes of transportation can have:

With more space and a scenic view, opting for the train can not only be a more comfortable journey, but it can also be more productive if you have a ton of emails to respond to or a report to write. Next time you are eyeing up your options, don’t overlook those without wings! 

5. Walk, use public transport, and share vehicles

When it comes to getting around the city you are visiting for business or pleasure, the way you choose to circulate can have an environmental impact. Where possible, taking public transportation or utilizing car-sharing services can be a great way to reduce your impact as a traveler. Reducing the number of vehicles is not only more fuel-efficient on an individual level, but it also decreases traffic and overall journey times.  

On average, a vehicle will emit around 404 grams of carbon dioxide for each mile it travels and annually will rack up about 4.6 metric tons of emissions. As the graph above shows, using public transport can massively reduce your carbon footprint. Opting to travel by rail rather than driving can cut your CO2 by 80%, but even carpooling or the type of car you choose can dramatically impact your emissions.  

A small car will emit around 111g of carbon per kilometer, while a larger 4×4 vehicle will generate 200g over the same distance. Sharing your journey with just one extra passenger can halve your emissions over each km. 

Cycling or walking will always be the most environmentally friendly mode of transport for short and medium trips. Peddling to your destination by bike rather than jumping in the car can reduce your carbon emissions by 75%. 

When selecting your accommodation for your next trip, consider staying in the neighborhoods closest to your intended itinerary. Being able to walk or cycle to your activities has added health benefits while being able to take public buses, trams, or trains can help you feel more immersed in your destination.  

6. Jump on the e-wagon 

Whether you’re looking to book a taxi because public transportation won’t get you where you need to go, or you’re thinking about renting a car – electric vehicles are an excellent eco-friendly travel option. In fact, emissions over the lifetime of average medium-size BEVs registered today are already lower than comparable gasoline cars by 66%–69% in Europe, and 60%–68% in the United States.

What’s more, it’s predicted that there will be 300 million electric cars on the road by 2030. So, why not jump on the bandwagon early and make a point of always trying, where possible, to use an electric car? Whether that’s for a family road trip or an inter-city business trip, by doing so you’ll have a positive impact on driving down your own personal travel carbon footprint as well as those of your company.  

Car booking services like Free Now and Uber offer users electric options, which can even be pre-ordered if you know when you will need a ride. Thinking ahead and making these small changes to your travel habits will have a meaningful impact on making your travel more sustainable. 

Best travel apps to help employees get organized during a business trip

7. Don’t underestimate the little things

It can be easy to overlook the impact of small actions, but they can add up when a group commits to taking them collectively. A few easy changes corporate travelers can make to reduce their carbon footprint include; 

  • Go paperless – save natural resources by opting to have your boarding passes and other documents emailed to you or accessible through apps.
  • Be conscious of your water consumption – avoid taking long showers and having hotels replace sheets and towels more frequently than you would at home. 
  • Consider your energy efficiency – turn appliances off standby and make sure the aircon and lights are off when you leave your hotel room. 
  • Pack light – when flying, bring only what you need for your trip, the lighter your luggage, the lower the emissions you generate. 
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – avoid single-use plastics wherever possible. Ditch plastic bags, bring your own refillable water bottle and reusable straws, and skip generating extra plastic waste by leaving the mini toiletries at your hotel.
  • Go paperless – save natural resources by opting to have your boarding passes and other documents emailed to you or accessible through apps.
  • Be conscious of your water consumption – avoid taking long showers and having hotels replace sheets and towels more frequently than you would at home. 
  • Consider your energy efficiency – turn appliances off standby and make sure the aircon and lights are off when you leave your hotel room. 
  • Pack light – when flying, bring only what you need for your trip, the lighter your luggage, the lower the emissions you generate. 
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – avoid single-use plastics wherever possible. Ditch plastic bags, bring your own refillable water bottle and reusable straws, and skip generating extra plastic waste by leaving the mini toiletries at your hotel.
  • Go paperless – save natural resources by opting to have your boarding passes and other documents emailed to you or accessible through apps.
  • Be conscious of your water consumption – avoid taking long showers and having hotels replace sheets and towels more frequently than you would at home. 
  • Consider your energy efficiency – turn appliances off standby and make sure the aircon and lights are off when you leave your hotel room. 
  • Pack light – when flying, bring only what you need for your trip, the lighter your luggage, the lower the emissions you generate. 
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – avoid single-use plastics wherever possible. Ditch plastic bags, bring your own refillable water bottle and reusable straws, and skip generating extra plastic waste by leaving the mini toiletries at your hotel.
  • Go paperless – save natural resources by opting to have your boarding passes and other documents emailed to you or accessible through apps.
  • Be conscious of your water consumption – avoid taking long showers and having hotels replace sheets and towels more frequently than you would at home. 
  • Consider your energy efficiency – turn appliances off standby and make sure the aircon and lights are off when you leave your hotel room. 
  • Pack light – when flying, bring only what you need for your trip, the lighter your luggage, the lower the emissions you generate. 
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – avoid single-use plastics wherever possible. Ditch plastic bags, bring your own refillable water bottle and reusable straws, and skip generating extra plastic waste by leaving the mini toiletries at your hotel.
local produce

8. Pick local produce

Food production is another major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with one portion of beef stew having the same carbon impact as driving 14 miles. One way travelers can counteract these effects is by supporting local businesses. The term 0KM has been working its way into the zeitgeist as consumers increasingly prefer to purchase products from local communities over those imported across the globe.  

This movement has been gaining traction in recent years, with trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and bars all supporting this tasty approach to sustainability. A quick Google search can pull up delicious 0km options in your destination that will save vital carbon emissions and provide a more authentic travel experience and insights into local culture.  

Choosing to buy locally saves on the emissions generated by transportation and reduces the need for preservatives and other methods used to keep food fresh while in transit. Selecting 0KM sources also protects regional ecosystems and supports biodiversity. Plus, it creates jobs and positively impacts the local economy you are visiting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog

close(x)


<