Ten ways to lessen the impact of travel

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The Independent Online


Travelling in first, business or even premium economy class consumes much more energy per passenger than the cheap seats at the back; the new business-class only services from Stansted to New York burn as much fuel as aircraft carrying three times as many passengers.


Each time you fly, you can make a payment to an organisation such as climatecare.org. The money finances projects that reduce the consumption of fossil fuels elsewhere in the world.

Slow down

Trains from London run direct to French ski resorts and, in summer, to Provence.


Not all aircraft are equal; new Airbuses or Boeings are more efficient than older models. Ryanair and easyJet have the most modern, and most friendly, fleets of any large European airlines.

Go direct

Getting a plane off the ground and back down to land consumes a disproportionate amount of energy. Within Europe, reject the " hub-and-spoke" app-roach of the traditional airlines - changing planes in Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris - in favour of non-stop flights.

Touch down

When you go further afield, the equation reverses. On long flights such as London-Singapore, a huge amount of fuel is consumed just to carry the fuel. Better to stop twice en route to Australia.

Don't fly-drive

Rather than renting a car, use public transport. Buses and trains almost everywhere in continental Europe, and in many developing countries, range from tolerable to excellent.

Go south ...

... rather than south-east for your Mediterranean holiday. The sun, sea and sand in resorts in Turkey is much the same as on the Spanish costas, but the flying time from the UK is twice as far.


The traveller's impact does not stop at the airport. A good way to vote with your wallet in favour of low-impact tourism is to stay with a local family, rather than in a luxury hotel.

Stay at home

With increased opportunities to travel far and wide, we tend to overlook the superb experiences close to home. Hike or bike around your local area, perhaps staying in a youth hostel. You will have a negligible impact on the environment, and contribute to the local economy. Cleanest of all: Zen tourism, where you stay at home with a glass of water and a book.