Skip to main content

9 Travel Tips For Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Most people love the idea of being eco-friendly. However, it becomes increasingly complicated when venturing away from home. While travel expands our minds and promotes a better understanding of the world around us, it can also have a serious carbon footprint and a negative impact on the environment.

Here are nine tips for minimizing the your impact while still achieving that great Instagram content for your friends and family back home.

man phone app map

Go Digital

Consider utilizing your smartphone for boarding passes, maps, and travel guides instead of printing or purchasing paper versions. Not only do these digital guides and documents provide a convenient way to access the information, they are also much lighter than a carry-on bag full of books and folders.

Choose a Green Hotel

In the United States, LEED certification is given to buildings that meet certain “green” requirements. If traveling internationally, look for options that utilize sustainability initiatives like solar or wind power, low-flow toilets, and energy efficient lighting. If you’re planning a cruise vacation, maybe opt for the world’s most eco-friendly cruise ship instead.

Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” Sign

Aside from providing the opportunity for you to sleep in (or prevent an awkward moment with housekeeping), utilizing the “Do Not Disturb” sign during your entire hotel stay is good for the environment. Why? It’s more environmentally friendly to use bath towels for multiple days, the hotel will avoid using electricity to vacuum your room daily, and skipping the daily linen change will reduce the use of chemical cleaning agents and water.

airplane window mountain travel

Fly Non-Stop When Possible

Non-stop flights can be pricey, but they’re worth the splurge, both for convenience and environmental impact. A significant percentage of a plane’s carbon emissions is generated during its takeoff and landing.

Use Public Transit or Your Own Legs

Walking, biking, and using public transit is a great way to experience a new culture while reducing your eco impact (and not to mention, get some exercise in after a long trip). If you must rent a car, opt for a fuel efficient option or go hybrid.

Carry a Reusable Water Bottle

Disposable plastic water bottles require lots of energy and resources to produce, and can take more than 400 years to break down. Consider the number of disposable plastic bottles you might use on a given trip. That number adds up quick, doesn’t it? Bring a reusable water bottle instead.

stree food market fruit

Eat Locally Sourced Foods

Support the regional farmers by seeking out restaurants that provide dishes prepared with locally sourced produce and meat. You’re supporting the community and economy by keeping that food as close to home as possible — which also means you’ll reduce your carbon footprint to skip freight.


Call ahead and ask your hotel if they recycle. If not, consider looking for options nearby. If you’re driving to your destination, you can also pack up your recyclables and carry them home or to a recycling station.

Prep Your Home Before You Leave

Heating and air conditioning systems account for the largest usage of energy. During warmer months, consider raising the thermostat to a higher temperature (or turn it off all together and have a friend or neighbor turn it on prior to your return). During cooler months, lower the thermostat to a temperature that will prevent pipes from freezing but won’t waste energy warming an empty home. If you plan to be gone for more than a few days, consider lowering the temperature on the hot water tank. In addition to turning off lights prior to leaving home, unplug devices that draw electricity perpetually like televisions and computers.

Editors' Recommendations

Clay Abney
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Clay Abney is a PR guru and freelance writer living in the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia, where he spends his…
Report: 4 travel trends influencing where your next vacation will be
A new AmEx report has uncovered the four biggest trends for travel in 2023
white sand beach with palm trees

It’s hard to believe that three years ago, travel was canceled. In 2023, the industry is soaring.

According to a new report from AmEx Travel, 85% of respondents planned to take at least two or more leisure trips in 2023.

Read more
Sate your wanderlust with the best travel documentaries and shows on Netflix
You'll love these amazing travel documentaries
best travel documentaries on netflix midnightasia

Traveling is something that many people wish they could do more of. Whether you lack the time, money, or know-how to travel the world, though, it can be comforting to watch others do it from the comfort of your couch. A great travel show or documentary can be a wonderful escape, and a reminder that the world is much bigger than the tiny slice of it you live in every day. What's even better is that many great travel docs are readily available on Netflix, if you're willing to go looking for them.

These documentaries will deliver stunning panoramic shots of the U.S. National Parks, as well as plenty of international wonders, and a little bit of good food as well.

Read more
Road trip tips: Travel with one of the best ultralight travel trailers
Go farther by going lighter with these easily towable travel trailers for all your 2023 adventures
best ultra light travel trailers version 1666544314 happier camper exterior cliff feature

For decades, drivers who wanted a light, well-built, and aerodynamic travel trailer had few choices beyond a "silver bullet" Airstream. Thankfully, today's RV manufacturers have started to introduce trailers of all sizes for a variety of applications. Looking for a road tripper, overlander, or weekender for a short trip to your next destination? You’re guaranteed to find a camper you'll love.

That's true even if you’re not interested in a big, fancy RV or the best premium motorhome because ultralight trailers are a great choice. They’re more compact, easier to tow, and more aerodynamic—all of which means they're better on gas too. Here are our top picks for the best ultralight travel trailers on the market, all primed for your adventure.

Read more