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It’s Not Easy Being Green! This is How You Determine Your Travel Carbon Footprint

Written by Suzy Guese

This blog post was updated on November 15, 2022.

Countless studies and data prove that travel and going green don’t always come together. As we know, a big downside of traveling — whether you take a bus or hop a plane  — is carbon emissions. The good news is that if you’re concerned about the environment and the future of the planet, it’s possible to adjust how you travel to explore the world in a more sustainable way. Figuring out your impact involves examining your own travel habits! A great way to start is by asking these questions to help determine where, how, and why you need to make these changes.

Do You Use a Carbon Calculator to Decide How to Travel to Your Destination?

First of all, you have to figure out how much carbon emissions you’re actually producing before you can hone in on the areas you need to change. You can check that information online, making it easy to figure out what your footprint is for a specific trip. If the calculator tells you that it’d be better to drive for that short business trip instead or to take cheap multi city flights, you can change your travel plans accordingly. These calculators generally just need to know where you’re traveling. By knowing an estimate, you can better assess which mode of transportation will have a reduced footprint!

How Much Do You Pack?


You might not have considered that if you carry a lot of weight with you when traveling, it can also harm the environment. While for many travelers choosing not to fly might not be an option, you can try to pack less to offset your footprint. Lighter packers help cut airplanes’ carbon emissions: the lighter the plane is, the less fuel it burns! The same can be said for road trips. Cut back on that extra suitcase and you’ll surely be proud to have done something to lower the environmental impact during your trip!

You may also like: Understanding Sustainable Tourism &  How to Travel Green

Do You Fly Non-Stop or Make a Lot of Connections?

Especially if you’re looking for cheap flights, it’s common to find choices filled with loads of connections. However, connecting flights mean more landings and takeoffs, which means more airplane emissions. According to NASA, around 25% of airplane emissions come from takeoff and landing. With each connecting flight, you’re using more fuel than you would if you just took the non-stop flight!

How Green Are Your Hotel Stays?


When we search for hotels, most of us just want somewhere clean, safe, and with the amenities we need. However, many travelers neglect to look out for hotels that take steps toward being greener. As you look for an eco-friendly property, you’ll want to watch out for perks like key card-activated lights and air conditioning, along with hotels that have water-saving programs in place. In addition to booking hotels with environmental measures in place, you can also monitor how you use hotel resources by not leaving on the lights when you don’t need them or forgoing to having your clothes washed daily.

Have You Ever Used a Carbon Emissions Offset Program?

Sometimes it’s just inevitable: you have to fly or rent that car. When you do, know that many companies have carbon emissions offset programs you can donate to in order to offset your trip. Besides, some airlines allow you to use miles or money to contribute to projects that help reduce greenhouse gases when you buy a ticket. Car rental companies and even Amtrak have similar programs in place so that when you have to travel, you can make that footprint a little bit smaller.

Do You Rent a Car More Than You Use Public Transportation?


Maybe you always rent a car when you travel. It can certainly be the most convenient option when you arrive at a destination to just pick up a vehicle and be on your way. However, if you’re traveling in a city with reliable public transport, using those public transportation options is often your greenest option. Subways, buses, and trams can help reduce your footprint. You can even try rideshares instead of renting your own vehicle to cut back on the emissions you’re emitting from your destination.

Which of these eco-friendly travel tips have you used when abroad? Tell us in the comments!

About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at

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