Opened suitcases in a living room and a person sitting on the floor with a map.

How can I trav­el sus­tain­ably?

Here you can find out which trav­el behav­ior is harm­ful to the cli­mate and how you can start your vaca­tion more respon­si­bly with our tips. For more relax­ation for you and the plan­et!

You step off the plane. The soles of your san­dals touch the hot asphalt of the run­way. You take a deep breath and the excit­ing air of your vaca­tion des­ti­na­tion is mixed with the thought of hav­ing pro­duced a lot of CO2 on the way here. Trav­el is won­der­ful. But wher­ev­er we leave our mark, bathing beach or hik­ing trail, we also leave our eco­log­i­cal foot­print. For­tu­nate­ly, there is sus­tain­able trav­el. That means plan­ning your vaca­tion so that from the moment you pack your suit­case to the moment you dri­ve home, you’re pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment and its inhab­i­tants.

How does our vaca­tion harm the cli­mate?

Means of trans­port

We like to fly the dis­tance from our desk to the beach. Espe­cial­ly if we want to set up the deck chair far away from home. The air­plane caus­es the great­est cli­mate dam­age of all means of trans­porta­tion. A round-trip flight from Berlin to Pal­ma de Mal­lor­ca would pro­duce 610 kilo­grams of CO2. If the jour­ney takes you far away, to New York or the Mal­dives, it would even be around three tons. Trav­el­ing by water is sim­i­lar­ly bad. A sea voy­age is fun, until each of a thou­sand pas­sen­gers on an ocean lin­er for a week on the world’s oceans is respon­si­ble for almost 2.5 tons of green­house gas. The ques­tion is: How busy is your mode of trans­porta­tion of choice? In a packed coach, you con­sume much less per per­son-kilo­me­ter than if you were trav­el­ing alone in your car. In addi­tion to the envi­ron­men­tal costs of the jour­ney to and from the des­ti­na­tion, there are the dai­ly trans­port costs at the des­ti­na­tion as well as pos­si­ble excur­sions.

Waste dis­pos­al

It’s vaca­tion, you’re off, you want to put your feet up. In this mode, we also give our sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty a break. We have a habit of treat­ing oth­er peo­ple’s prop­er­ty more incon­sid­er­ate­ly than our own. This is most vis­i­ble in the garbage dumps into which we turn the land­scapes of vaca­tion spots. Mass tourism clus­ters mass­es of trav­el­ers in a sin­gle spot. Most­ly there, where one can lie com­fort­ably tem­pered on the skin or shoot the best pho­to. The result: plas­tic bot­tles, alu­minum foil, dis­pos­able grills in the sand or grass. The throw­aways dis­ap­pear, the dis­card­ed remains. The ones who suf­fer are the locals and their flo­ra and fau­na. In this way we destroy nature and cul­ture, which must be pre­served not only for our trav­el plea­sure.

Resource con­sump­tion

The lax vaca­tion men­tal­i­ty con­tin­ues in our con­sump­tion of resources. A favorite crime scene is the hotel. The place to be served, where every­thing is ready and some­one else cleans up for us after we use it. That comes at a price. Espe­cial­ly for the ener­gy bud­get. Find­ing fresh tow­els every two days costs resources. So does the ful­ly air-con­di­tioned room in Cairo in August, the pool with­in sight of the beach, the watered green areas and the too-small sham­poo bot­tles in the bath­room. The water con­sump­tion in the hotel alone ris­es to over 500 liters per guest and night. By com­par­i­son, we use an aver­age of 127 liters at home.

An airplane in the air
Although the airplane is a popular means of transportation, it is not a climate-friendly one.

Tips for sus­tain­able trav­el

1. choose cli­mate-friend­ly means of trans­port

Trav­el­ing by train saves much more CO2 than fly­ing or ship­ping. That’s no secret. But it has even more advan­tages. By plane, you take off and land one Adam San­dler movie lat­er. By train, you trav­el through var­ied land­scapes and make the jour­ney itself an expe­ri­ence. By coach, you can trav­el just as excit­ing­ly and in an equal­ly cli­mate-friend­ly way. Once you arrive on site, you can cov­er dis­tances on foot or on a bicy­cle. This brings you a lit­tle clos­er to the local world. If your dream vaca­tion — in terms of kilo­me­ters — is far away, the plane is of course the only option. In that case, you can ask about air­line offers to com­pen­sate for the emis­sions pro­duced.

2. look for near­by trav­el des­ti­na­tions

Ask your­self: What am I going on vaca­tion for? For some vaca­tions, you don’t have to go far. Wind­surf­ing is said to work very well on the North Sea waves, hik­ing is also the miller’s delight in the Harz moun­tains, and with your eyes closed, along with the right playlist, the veg­an yoga retreat in the city park feels just like being in Bangkok.

3. pack only what you need

The heav­ier the load of your lug­gage, the more fuel your mode of trans­porta­tion will con­sume. Think about what you real­ly want to car­ry before you start your trip. Lighter lug­gage makes you more mobile. You can bor­row items local­ly, and clothes can be washed and put back on. This way, your sev­en things quick­ly become sev­en things.

4. orga­nize your vaca­tion your­self

Choose where you go, how you get there and where you stay. A vaca­tion designed accord­ing to your own wish­es means free­dom. Sure, it’s more work than click­ing the pack­age tour into the shop­ping cart. But sin­gle-hand­ed­ly, you have the option to focus on sus­tain­abil­i­ty. For exam­ple, look for accom­mo­da­tion that has an envi­ron­men­tal cer­tifi­cate. If you’d rather have the all-inclu­sive pack­age, there are trav­el por­tals that spe­cial­ize in cli­mate-friend­ly tourism.

5. sup­port local busi­ness­es and peo­ple

The lit­tle restau­rant in the back alley where you can taste the soul of the region in every bite. The week­ly mar­ket that has exot­ic spices and hand­made trea­sures for you. The hos­tel, run by a love­ly cou­ple, who will tell you the secret hotspots of the city over break­fast. Many coun­tries on your itin­er­ary rely on income from tourists. But when the mon­ey gets stuck in all-inclu­sive hotels run by inter­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions, the locals get noth­ing out of it. If you buy, eat and stay local, you make the val­ue chain more sus­tain­able.

A woman sits on a pink suitcase at the airport with her cell phone in her hand.
The heavier the load of your luggage, the more fuel your mode of transportation consumes. Before you travel, think about what you really want to lug around.

Bonus tip: Improve your vaca­tion bud­get with Wat­ti­fy

Your pig­gy bank is only enough for your bal­cony? A cer­tain crowd­in­vest­ing plat­form can help. Just like sus­tain­abil­i­ty and trav­el, impact and invest­ment go togeth­er. How does it work? Sim­ply invest indi­rect­ly in sus­tain­able ener­gy projects with Wat­ti­fy and use the return to improve the bud­get for your next vaca­tion. At the same time, you sup­port the plan­et you want to explore. Whether it’s a city trip or a world tour, Lake Gar­da or the Gala­pa­gos Islands, wher­ev­er your wan­der­lust takes you — the Wat­ti­fy app is there for you.

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