Traveling Better for the Holidays: Trends & Tips

Cool Effect
Cool Effect
Published in
5 min readNov 3, 2023

The holiday season is a time of togetherness, celebration, and connection. But it’s also a time for crowded highways and busy airports as people across the country look to travel to be close to their families and loved ones.

Unfortunately, that increase in travel also leads to an increase in carbon — right now, tourism accounts for around 8% of all global emissions — with a large portion of that coming around the holiday season.

So what is any good climate concerned traveller to do? The climate crisis demands that we take action to reduce our carbon footprint, but we say that action doesn’t need to come at the expense of experiencing the world and connecting with loved ones.

Sustainability in travel is about making conscious choices that benefit the planet and its people while ensuring you can still enjoy your holiday experiences. The idea is not to stop traveling altogether, but to make responsible choices, consider the consequences of your actions on the planet, and minimize your impact wherever you can.

In short, you don’t need to stop traveling — just travel better.

And don’t worry, you won’t be alone. 2023 is already proving to be a transformative year for travel, with consumers shifting their behavior to prioritize sustainability. In fact, a recent report found that 80% of global travelers claim that traveling more sustainably is important to them — here’s what that looks like in action.

More and more travelers are making conscious choices to support local business

Many holiday travelers are making a conscious decision to shop local. No matter where your holiday travel plans may take you, supporting local businesses over those big box stores and retailers isn’t just good for the local economy, but the planet too.

Eco-friendly accommodations are on the rise

More and more green hotels and lodging are popping up around the world, and for good reason — accommodations add to the carbon footprint of your travel plans. If you aren’t staying with a loved one this holiday season, find accommodations that advertise eco-friendly practices. Look for things like the use of energy-efficient appliances, a smart thermostat, biodegradable soaps, and listings with recommendations for local public transit.

Offset Your Accommodation

In addition to offsetting your travel emissions, consider supporting accommodations that also invest in carbon offset initiatives. Many eco-friendly hotels and lodges participate in carbon reduction programs, making your stay even more eco-friendly.

Conserve Resources

During your stay, no matter where you are, be mindful of resource conservation. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you get to take a break from protecting the planet, after all. Turn off lights when not in use, use water sparingly, and opt for short showers to minimize your impact on local resources.

Travelers are opting for sustainable modes of transportation

Speaking of public transit, recent reports show that ridership in the US is up 13% since last year. This is a great option for travelers who are heading out to visit family or explore a new destination this holiday season. Opt for walking or biking whenever you can, but following that, public transit is your next best option.

Air travel increasingly contributes to global GHG emissions

Experts say that air travel, which is already responsible for around 2.5% of global emissions, is projected to triple by 2050. If you have to fly this holiday season, there are some simple actions you can take to reduce your impact. Choose economy seats which have a smaller carbon footprint, pack smart and light because the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel it consumes, and be sure to select airlines that carry biofuels.

The Power and Popularity of High-Quality Carbon Credits

Studies show that 59% of US consumers are willing to participate in carbon crediting programs to compensate for their travel-related emissions. If you’re unsure how to purchase a carbon credit, we offer a handy tool on our website for calculating and offsetting the impact of an upcoming or completed trip. With this tool, anyone can easily calculate and offset the footprint of holiday air travel, road trips and cruises, or accommodations.

Carbon credits aren’t intended to be a magic solution, and should only be used after you’ve taken steps to reduce your existing carbon footprint. Do your best — then offset the rest.

Choosing Eco-Friendly Transportation

Selecting the right mode of transportation can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. We know planes are the most convenient and popular choice, but when planning your holiday travel, consider the following options as well:

  1. Trains: Trains are a relatively eco-friendly mode of travel, producing fewer carbon emissions compared to airplanes and cars. Additionally, they often offer scenic routes, allowing you to enjoy the journey and spend a little extra quality time with loved ones.
  2. Carpooling: If you’re driving, consider carpooling with friends or family. Fewer vehicles on the road means less pollution and reduced carbon emissions per passenger.
  3. Electric or Hybrid Cars: If you need to rent a car, choose an electric or hybrid vehicle to reduce your carbon footprint.

Pack Light

The weight of your luggage affects the amount of fuel needed for transportation. Packing only what’s necessary makes your journey more efficient and also reduces your impact on the environment. Reusable bags and containers can further cut down on waste.

Reduce Single-Use Plastics

Single-use plastics pose a significant environmental threat. Carry a reusable water bottle, shopping bag, and utensils to minimize plastic waste during your travels. Avoid plastic straws, and seek out restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets that have embraced sustainable practices.

This holiday season, let’s remember that we don’t need to stop traveling; we simply need to travel better. Making responsible choices and using high-quality carbon credits can significantly reduce your carbon footprint while allowing you to enjoy your holiday experiences.

Sustainable travel around the holidays is not just about preserving the environment; it’s also about fostering connections with your loved ones while making a positive impact for the planet and its people . So, this holiday season, travel with purpose and make your journey a force for good.

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Cool Effect
Cool Effect

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