Sustainable travel
2 min read
Joanna Karska  (Pinwheel author)

Joanna Karska

How to travel more sustainably

Green travel, eco-travel, conscious travel… call it what you want, but one thing’s for sure: as we all become more aware of our impact on our planet, we need to travel more sustainably. According to the latest sustainability report from, 83% of global travellers now think sustainable travel is vital, while recent research from Expedia suggests that 90% of consumers look for sustainable options when they travel – and half would be willing to pay more for them.

The good news is that making a few simple changes can significantly reduce your impact as a traveller. Here’s how:

1. Find alternatives to flying

A whopping 80% of your holiday’s carbon footprint comes from your flight, and aviation is responsible for 2% of all global CO2 emissions. If you can, ditch the plane and travel by train, ferry, coach or car instead. Various tour operators now offer flight-free travel, so take a look at Byway Travel, Responsible Travel and Slow Adventure.

2. Stay for longer

Consider how long you travel for. If you do travel by plane, your flight footprint will be the same whether you’re away for a quick weekend or a whole month, and staying longer ensures that your tourist dollars will at least trickle down further into the local economy. In other words, make every trip count.

3. Choose sustainable accommodation

Look out for obvious sustainability markers when you research a hotel. Is it single-use-plastic-free? Does it measure and limit its power usage? Does it buy and hire locally? Is it taking steps to cut waste and reduce water usage? Clue: if there is a lushly green golf course attached in an arid destination, the answer is probably no. If it’s proving difficult to find the answers to your questions, look out for sustainable certification schemes – reliable ones include Earth Check, Green Globe and BCorp, or find vetted properties through NOW. And don’t be afraid to ask questions directly. The more we ask, the more things will change.

reduce food waste
Alternative travel to flying
Sustainable accommodation
Sustainable souvenirs

4. Reduce your waste

Food waste is, perhaps surprisingly, the second largest contributor to our holiday carbon footprints. Look out for strategies being used to reduce waste in your hotel or resort. If there’s a lavish buffet on every morning, or ingredients are flown in (such as seafood in the desert or Wagyu beef pretty much anywhere) then there’s your answer. And always travel with a refillable water bottle to avoid single-use plastic ones.

5. Don’t buy harmful souvenirs

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the illegal wildlife trade is worth billions of dollars each year, with millions of tourists unwittingly buying souvenirs made from endangered species. Things to look out for include souvenirs made out of any animal part (horn, fur, tortoiseshell, skin), as well as sea shells, coral and, of course, ivory. Avoid hardwoods, too.

Think carbon offsetting your flights is the answer? Find out why we disagree here.

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