How to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling

Vacation emissions can be significant. A poorly planned family-of-four vacation can result in more carbon emissions than an entire year of the family’s commute to and from work. But smart vacation choices can cut emissions considerably.

In this article, ( and the Union of Concerned Scientists ( are offering some green travel tips can help vacationers reduce heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming and save them money.

Looking to book a trip? Check out the Trip Builder where you can request a quote local travel agents who are waiting to offer you custom prices on your trip.

5 Tips to minimize your carbon footprint when travelling

Empty AirportOff-peak travel. Americans tend to favor Friday, Saturday or Sunday departures for trips, but these peak travel times result in higher emissions, gasoline bills and ticket prices. Travelers who plan to arrive and depart on a trip on Monday through Thursday can take advantage of lower airplane fares and avoid weekend and rush hour highway traffic. This advice can be especially helpful for travelers who want to avoid crowds on the road or at airports during Thanksgiving and the December holidays.

Take some extra days.  Tacking an extra day or two onto a vacation can help you travel on off-peak days. That may be easier than many people think: Americans collectively fail to take advantage of more than a half-billion days of paid vacation every year.

Skip economy-plus seating. Nearly every time vacationers purchase coach-class plane tickets, airlines offer them an “upgrade” to economy-plus seating for an additional fee. Because the extra space taken by economy-plus seats reduces the number of passengers that a flight can carry, economy-plus seats increase per-passenger emissions for flights. Forgoing this option can send a signal to airlines to seat more passengers on their plane and reduce per-passenger emissions. Some airlines have eliminated first-class and economy plus seats. That can lower a plane’s per-person emissions 10 to 15 percent and also allows the airline to reduce its fares. If travelling alone or with another person, vacationers are usually better off flying direct in coach than getting behind the wheel of a typical car, especially for trips of more than 500 miles.

Take the busDon’t forget the bus. Motor coaches are generally the greenest vacation travel option. Compared with flying coach, a couple travelling on a bus will cut their trip’s carbon dioxide emissions 55 to 75 percent, depending on the distance travelled. Compared with even a fuel-efficient hybrid car, a bus trip would cut a couple’s trip emissions nearly in half. Bus travel is much less expensive than flying and can even be cheaper than driving. Some bus companies offer fares as low as $1 each way. Additionally, many intercity buses now offer such amenities as wireless Internet connections and food service.

Trains let travelers skip in-city travel expenses. Trains are another green option, especially those that run primarily on electricity. Trains emit 60 percent less carbon per passenger-mile than a typical car with a single occupant.  Compared with a 500-mile trip on a small jet plane, a train emits roughly 30 percent less carbon. Trains also can save vacationers money when they are traveling between large cities. Train stations are often much closer to city centers than airports, allowing travelers to avoid renting a car or paying for a cab or shuttle into town.

For more information, UCS ( offers answers to frequently asked questions about the travel guide on its Web site.

Today's Top Articles:

Scroll to Top