Holiday Footprint

Top Tips for a low carbon - high fun holiday


As we all prepare to head off for our well earned family holiday - do we risk throwing out all our good low carbon behaviours?

Your holiday might account for as much as 30% of your annual carbon footprint - not surprising as the top three destinations for UK holidaymakers are Spain, France and Greece. Followed by UK and USA in fifth place.

We look at your choices to minimise your carbon footprint, whilst still having a great time.

Did You Know ... ?

 A 4 person family holiday to Majorca, Spain creates ca. 2 tonnes CO2

A 4 person family holiday to Disney World, Florida creates ca. 9 tonnes CO2

Offset your Holiday Footprint

Travel into (and in) Europe - train, ferry or coach

Instead of flying to Europe, travel there by land based transport. Europe has an extensive rail network meaning that almost every destination is accessible by train. Not only will this reduce your carbon emissions but it will also give you the opportunity to see some of the spectacular scenery that Europe has to offer.

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris allows access to the rest of the European Rail Network. Other options of reaching Europe without flying include; boarding a ferry to cross the English Channel or taking your car on the Eurotunnel.

Examples of carbon emissions from different transport options:

  • Flying to Paris from London in economy class emits 58kg CO2 per passenger.
  • Travelling on the Eurostar from London St Pancreas to Gare du Nord Paris emits 0.9kg CO2 per passenger
  • Travelling by a medium sized petrol car from London to Paris via a ferry from Dover to Calais emits 87.5kg CO2 per car
  • Travelling by a medium sized diesel car from London to Paris via a ferry from Dover to  Calais emits 78kg CO2 per car

Get a bit of exercise - Walk or cycle


Once you have arrived at your holiday destination, walk and cycle whenever possible especially for short journeys. If you are unable to bring your own bike, look into hiring bikes at your location.

  • Sustrans has created a map showing all UK cycle paths
  • Eurovelo has information on 17 long distance cycle routes which could be incorporated into a cycling holiday.

Not only do cycling and walking have no carbon emissions associated with them but they also are great for improving health and well-being and most importantly are good fun for the entire family!

The UK and Europe have extensive public footpaths (short and long distance) that can be used on your holiday. Can you incorporate a walk or cycling to the tourist attractions?


If you have to Fly - Offset your carbon


    Flights are the main source of carbon emissions in your vacation footprint. If you have to fly, here are some practical tips that you can use to reduce the overall emissions of the flight

    • Travel light - most of the clothes we take on holiday 'just in case', but seldom if ever do we need them. By sticking to just what you need, you will be reducing the payload of the plane, fuel usage and carbon emissions
    • Travel 'non stop' routes  - some flights are labelled 'direct', that often means that the plane can make multiple stops en route to your final destination. The extra take-offs and landings will add to the carbon footprint
    • Lower the window blinds - the plane can stay much cooler with the shades down (in very bright sunlight) and this will help to avoid overuse of the cooling system by the cabin crew
    • Use electronic ticketing where possible - avoid the emissions associated with print out of tickets by holding them on your phone

    For carbon offsetting you can choose to support projects around the globe or to support UK Schools tree planting programme in your region. Calculate the emissions your flight produces using our Carbon Calculator

    Shop Local 

    Choosing produce that is made in locally reduces transport emissions. In the supermarket look on food labels to see where the produce was grown. There's a good chance this food will also be more fresh too.

    Go native - buy local brands rather than the familiar British brands ( as these will have been transported large distances...they are frequently much more expensive too).Bring your reusable shopping bags - many EU countries charge for bags just as the UK does.

    Carry on Camping!

    Camping is a great low carbon accommodation. There are a wide choice of campsites in the UK, Europe and the World you can choose from ( e.g. see Eurocamp If traditional camping is a bit too basic for you 'glamping' - a more luxurious camping option may be more up your street (HRH Prince William & Kate apparently like this too!)

    Campsites are often in close proximity to cycle and walking routes so not only can your accommodation be low carbon but your transportation can be too!

    Hotel & Heating 


    If you are staying in a hotel with a thermostat in the room make sure you use it effectively. Here are some tips to save energy in your hotel room:

    • Don’t have the windows open and the air conditioning/heating on at the same time
    • Only have the air conditioning or heating on when it is needed
    • Turning the air conditioning up will not make the room cool down any faster, be patient!
    • If you are staying in a hotel that offers cleaning services, don’t put towels and bedding out every day to be washed unless necessary. This will reduce the energy used in washing, drying and ironing processes and so reduce carbon emissions.

    Go on an eco-holiday

    There is a wide range of accommodation available including campsites, hotels and lodges that pride themselves in being eco friendly. This may involve using renewable energy, harvesting rain water, having energy efficient equipment and using locally source produce. Some of these will also offer learning courses, showing you how to become more environmentally friendly and how to reduce your carbon footprint. There are awards such as the Green Hotelier Award which can be used to identify hotels which promote low carbon processes.

    And Don't Forget... Before You Leave...

  • Turn off heating for your home and hot water 
  • Check electrical appliances are switched off (and not standby!)
  • If you need to leave lights on for security reasons get some timers which can turn the lights on only when needed
  • If your refrigerator is empty (or can be emptied) - switch it off

  • Calculate your carbon footprint now 

    Offset your carbon footprint