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It seems like environmental awareness is becoming more of an important issue with travellers every year. There’s a growing sense of responsibility towards our planet, and sustainable travel has emerged as a top priority for eco-conscious travellers worldwide.

While it’s wonderful to explore new destinations and experience different cultures, it’s become essential to consider the environmental impact of our travel and try our best to minimise our carbon footprint wherever possible.

Since one of the most significant contributors to environmental harm in the travel industry is transportation, we thought we’d look at the various common modes of transport and ways you can utilise each in more sustainable ways that helps promote responsible tourism the next time you’re on vacation,

The Best Sustainable Ways to Get Around on Vacation

Take Care Where You Go

While it’s great to focus on sustainable transportation, it’s worth pointing out that where you choose to travel can also have a significant impact on your ability to engage in sustainable practices and minimise your environmental footprint.

By carefully selecting destinations that prioritise sustainability, respecting local cultures and ecosystems, and making responsible choices during your travels, you can help do your part for the environment.

Different destinations have varying environmental challenges and levels of infrastructure to support sustainable practices. Some countries are more ecologically sensitive than others, with fragile ecosystems that require extra care and protection. Traveling to these areas may require special permits, adherence to specific guidelines, or even restrictions on things like transport.

The distance you travel, along with the modes of transportation you use, can have a significant impact on your carbon footprint. Traveling shorter distances can help reduce emissions, so choosing destinations where attractions and sights you want to see are all closely grouped together, therefore making extensive transportation not required, can really make your travels more sustainable.

The availability of sustainable infrastructure and resources varies from one destination to another. Some places may have well-developed eco-tourism initiatives and renewable energy sources, while others may lack these resources. Supporting destinations that invest in sustainable infrastructure and initiatives can help drive positive change.

Sustainable Flying

Maho Beach Plane RF

There’s no denying that air travel is a major culprit to harming the environment, but the reality is that you often cannot avoid flights. While you should try to avoid flying as a means of getting around while you’re on holiday, it simply isn’t possible to always abstain from flying when you wish to get to many travel destinations, especially when you live in a country like Australia that’s so far removed from the rest of the world.

Thankfully, there are strategies and choices you can make when flying to help reduce the environmental impact of air travel. For starters, non-stop flights are more fuel-efficient than connecting flights since take-offs and landings are the most fuel-intensive parts of a flight. Opt for direct, non-stop flights whenever possible to reduce overall fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

And while first-class may be enticing, flying economy class actually has a lower carbon footprint per passenger compared to business or first class. Economy class seats take up less space, allowing more passengers to be accommodated on the same aircraft, thereby spreading emissions across more travellers. Private jets are also sadly less sustainable than commercial flights.

And when it comes time to pack, remember that every additional kilogram of weight on an aircraft increases fuel consumption and emissions. Pack light and only bring essential items to minimise the weight of your luggage, thereby reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions during your flight.

Lastly, do a bit of research to discover which airlines have invested in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft and technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. Research airlines that prioritise sustainability and operate modern fleets with lower emissions per passenger mile.

Sustainable Driving

Couple with map roadtrip car RF

If you’re planning a road trip and plan on taking your own vehicle or simply wish to rent a car abroad to venture beyond the limits of a city to explore off the beaten path gems, know that there are many ways to be a more sustainable driver.

Sustainable driving involves adopting practices that reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and overall environmental impact. Start to implement eco-driving techniques such as smooth acceleration, maintaining a steady speed, and avoiding sudden stops and starts, as these things can improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, helping to conserve natural resources and minimize air pollution.

Regular maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups, ensures that your vehicle operates efficiently. Properly inflated tires, clean air filters, and well-maintained engines also improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.

Replacing old or worn-out vehicle parts with newer vehicle parts which are often more eco-friendly or efficient is another way to help make your vehicle more sustainable. So look into modernising or upgrading your vehicle, whether that means purchasing  2024 Mustang parts or improvements for your favourite road-tripping van.

Use navigation apps to plan more efficient routes, avoiding traffic congestion and unnecessary detours. Avoid idling, as it wastes fuel and emits unnecessary pollutants into the air. Restarting your engine consumes less fuel than idling for more than a minute.

When purchasing or renting a vehicle, choose models with high fuel efficiency ratings or alternative fuel options such as hybrid, electric, or plug-in hybrid vehicles. These vehicles produce fewer emissions and consume less fuel compared to conventional petrol-powered cars.

Sustainable Train Travel

Beijing to Shanghai by Train

In many parts of the world, trains are a fantastic way to get around. They are generally reliable and on time, and in most countries are clean, comfortable, and economical as well. Train travel is generally considered one of the most sustainable methods of transportation, especially for long-distance journeys.

Trains have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to both cars and airplanes, primarily due to their energy efficiency and reliance on electricity rather than fossil fuels. Trains are highly energy-efficient, with modern electric trains capable of converting up to 90% of the energy from electricity into motion. By using electricity from renewable sources, such as wind or solar power, train travel can be even more sustainable.

Trains help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce the need for additional road infrastructure, which can have negative environmental impacts such as habitat destruction and increased pollution. By taking cars off the road, trains contribute to safer and more sustainable transportation systems.

Make train travel even more sustainable by opting for high-speed trains whenever possible, as they are more efficient and produce fewer emissions than slower trains. High-speed rail networks are continually expanding around the world, offering convenient and sustainable alternatives to air travel for medium-distance trips.

And just like with air travel, packing light reduces the weight of the train and improves energy efficiency. Minimise luggage and bring only essential items to reduce fuel consumption and emissions during your journey.

Sustainable Taxis

New York City Cabs.

While booking taxis or Ubers may be a convenient mode of city transportation, they are generally less sustainable for city transport than using public transportation or other alternatives like cycling or walking. With that said, there are ways to make taxi travel more sustainable.

Many cities now offer hybrid or electric taxi options, which produce fewer emissions than traditional petrol-powered taxis. Or you can choose ride-sharing services or shared taxis to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and minimise emissions per passenger.

Choose taxi companies that prioritise sustainability, such as those with fuel-efficient vehicle fleets or carbon offset programs. This may take a bit of online research but is another way to make sure you are supporting eco-friendly taxi companies.

Whenever feasible, choose walking over taxis for shorter trips around a city to minimise environmental impact. Many travellers often say that simply walking around and exploring lesser known parts of a city outside the normal tourists hotspot zones is a way to enjoy more authentic experiences of destinations.

Sustainable Public Transport


While public transport may not be a particularly luxurious way to travel, choosing it over taxis or rental cars reduces the number of vehicles on the road, leading to lower emissions and less traffic congestion. 

Combine public transportation such as buses, trams, and subways with walking or cycling since both these options produce zero emissions and promote physical activity, contributing to both personal and environmental health.

Consider traveling during off-peak hours when public transport is less crowded. This not only provides a more comfortable experience but also allows transit operators to optimise energy usage and reduce emissions.

Using contactless payment methods such as smart cards or mobile apps when using public transportation is also helpful. This reduces the need for paper tickets and streamlines the boarding process, making public transport efficient, convenient, and eco-friendly.

Be mindful of energy consumption when using public transportation. Turn off lights, air conditioning, or heating when they’re not needed, and close windows and doors to maintain temperature control. This is of course if such actions are within your control.

Use designated trash bins and recycling facilities on public transport vehicles and at stations to dispose of waste properly. Avoid littering or leaving behind trash, as this often contributes to pollution and sadly is a common sight in and around public transport.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



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