Winter travel tips

Minimize the carbon footprint of your southern sojourn

Planning a trip south this winter?  It would seem many of us are, and travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Air travel is (usually) comfortable and convenient, but it has a significant carbon footprint.  Airplanes that fly on hydrogen or batteries are under development, but they won’t be here for a while.  Conventional planes can use sustainable aviation fuel, but it’s pricey and scarce so it’s not widely used. 

So if you’re planning to travel this winter (or anytime really), here are a few ways you can reduce emissions and environmental impacts of your trip:

  • Travel as lightly as possible: A plane’s fuel consumption is directly proportional to its weight, so the lighter you travel, the lower the emissions of your flight.  That means choosing the lightest suitcase you can; and taking only the clothing, accessories and toiletries (in small sizes) that you really need.  It’s helpful to remember that most hotels have laundry services so you can get by with fewer changes of clothing; most have accessories like hair dryers so you don’t have to take your own; and most destinations have stores where you can buy the things you need.  Recent travel snarls demonstrate that travelling with just carry-on luggage is wise for more than just sustainability reasons.
  • Fly economy: consider: if a plane has 100 seats, all business class, and burns 10,000 litres, the fuel used per passenger is 100 litres.  If that same plane instead has 150 economy seats, the fuel used per passenger is 10,000 divided by 150 or 67 litres per passenger – a 33% reduction.  It’s rough math, but to make a simple point: economy seats are far more eco-friendly that other classes – not to mention cheaper.
  • Choose the most direct route with the least stops: because takeoffs in particular require a lot of fuel and generate a lost of emissions.
  • Take one long vacation trip versus two shorter ones: half the flying, half the emissions, half the cost.
  • Buy offsets to counteract the emissions from your travel.  You can buy them from the airline when you buy your tickets, or elsewhere.  But beware – offsets are a minefield of greenwash and overstatement; choose Gold Standard offsets to be sure of integrity and impact.
  • For the hardcore: consider local vacation alternatives.  Local businesses and the environment will cheer!

Click here for even more sustainable travel tips!

In the news:

‘Feels like summer’: January temperatures in Europe soar to record levels

Here’s a good summary of the climate numbers to watch in 2023 (some great, some less so)

Interesting – a new study finds that fast food restaurants could help fight climate change simply by labelling the climate impact of the food items they offer.


“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”

        – TS Eliot, Four Quartets (near end of Chapter 1)

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