Travel Greener for the Holidays

The Basics

  • Avoid long haul flights
  • Switch to a more efficient car
  • Holiday closer to home
  • Drive sensibly

How we choose to travel can have a major impact on other people and the planet. From the daily commute to that dream beach holiday, travelling affects society and the environment in many different ways.

It's not always straightforward. For example, cutting back on flying is one of the most effective things you can do to cut your carbon footprint. But carbon may not be your only concern. Many communities and habitats depend on tourism money for survival. Not all ecotourism projects deliver on their promises, but many bring real benefits to local people, animals and ecosystems.

Closer to home, there are many simple ways to become a greener traveller - and it's not just about shunning 4x4s. From cycling to driving efficiently, you can reduce the environmental impact of your travels at a stroke.

Try to avoid long haul flying
Sorry, we know you won't like to hear this, but one long haul return flight - such as London to San Francisco - has the same climate impact as the average UK home during an entire year.

In other words, each hour you spend on the plane has a carbon footprint of more than two weeks' use of heating, lighting, hot water, TV or washing machines.

In most cases, the only practical alternative to flying long distance is picking a destination closer to home. That isn't always ideal, but it will help reduce your carbon footprint substantially.

Switch to a more efficient car
If you have no choice but to drive a lot of miles regularly, then choosing a car with low emissions will lower your impact on the environment.

Switching from a model rated E for fuel efficiency (such as a Ford Mondeo 1.8, for example) to a model rated B (such as Honda Civic Hybrid) will reduce the emissions per mile by around 40 per cent.

If you drive only rarely, an even more ambitious move would be to get rid of your car altogether and join a car sharing club instead.

Holiday closer to home
Holidaying closer to home helps you cut down the emissions of your trips. It can also help minimise travel time - and, in many cases, save you money.

Each time you replace a short-haul flight of 3000km (eg London to Rome and back) with a UK train trip of 500km, you're slashing your carbon footprint by almost a third of a tonne.

Drive sensibly
No matter what type of car you own, you can probably trim its emissions and fuel costs by around 15 per cent just by changing your driving habits.

Most importantly, avoid speeding on motorways - driving at 60mph is much greener than driving at 70, which is much greener than driving at 80.

In addition, accelerate slowly and evenly, cut back on air-con, and don't carry heavy cargo unnecessarily. Idling should also be avoided - if a car is stationary for more than around ten seconds, it's usually greener to turn off the engine.