A Climate Conscious Traveler’s Guide

Our imaginations aren’t playing tricks on us: in-air turbulence has gotten worse in the last few years. So have flight delays from extreme weather; canceled events due to wildfires; places experiencing record heat or extended ski seasons. Travel in an era of climate change is complicated, to say the least, but the good news is there’s much we can do to travel smarter and mitigate our effects on the planet. In this all-new Climate Conscious Traveler’s Guide, we’ve done the research, talked to industry experts about next steps in sustainable travel, and sought out practical solutions we can all apply on our next trip.

If you’re feeling helpless about the whole thing? You’re not alone: AFAR’s senior news editor Michelle Baran discussed how to deal with climate anxiety with psychologist Sanam Hafeez in a recent episode of our Unpacked podcast.

Tread lightly

We know the mantras by now. Try to fly less. Fly direct. Offset those flights (they’re still a valuable weapon in the fight against climate change). Stay informed on which airlines are working hardest to get greener. Stay longer. Consider an electric car for your next road trip (many rental companies offer EVs and they offer a lot of potential for a cheaper yet convenient vacation). More and more hotels, too, are making serious strides with sustainability. Our recent Stay List of the best new hotels in the world features a number of inspiring examples.

Spend wisely

The traveler’s toolbox is full of possibilities, especially in the booking stage. Consider the business practices of tour operators: Intrepid Travel is carbon neutral, G Adventures launched the Planeterra Foundation to invest in local conservation, and several more offer epic trips that give back. Tomorrow’s Air, meanwhile, is a collective for travelers who want to fund carbon removal through direct air capture and other innovative techniques.

Be flexible

We know hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November, and can rely on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to warn of an unusually active season. Record European heatwaves on the other hand? A little harder to predict in advance.

There’s a new company from a group of climate scientists called Sensible Weather that offers guarantees to fully reimburse guests if inclement weather affects their experience. Expect more of this type of thing going forward.

Hold us accountable

The travel industry as a whole is joining the fight, too. More than 700 travel companies and destinations have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism pledge—meaning they’ll work to halve carbon emissions by 2023 and hit net zero by 2050 (or before). Travalyst, meanwhile, is a coalition of industry titans including Google, Expedia, and aimed at providing travelers with information to make more sustainable choices. Travalyst was an AFAR Vanguard honoree among other key players who are changing the way we travel. — Tim Chester, deputy editor

Here are tools and resources—and the key things to look for—if you want your travels to do better.
The travel industry has a long way to go to reach its climate ambitions of net-zero by 2050, but these companies and destinations are stepping up to the challenge.
Several operators are choosing to focus on sustainable fuels, but quality offsets can still play a valuable role in tackling climate change.
With a host of family-friendly things to do in a small radius—plus plentiful charging—San Diego is a dream EV destination.
We just have to travel smarter. The travel industry needs to unite for a greener future.
Carbon offsets may not be the end-all-be-all to eliminating emissions generated by travel, but they are a first step.
The ambitious five-park plan serves as a climate-fighting call to action.
When traveling to Taos Ski Valley, skiers can fly on a carbon-neutral private airline to get to the first and only B-corporation certified ski resort in the world.
Electric aviation is no flight of fancy: Leading airlines like United and EasyJet are onboard as early adopters, with the first U.S. commercial routes slated for 2026.
The renowned oceanographer wants humanity to look below the surface.
There’s a growing number of EV rental car options available to travelers. Here’s what to know about planning a trip using an EV rental car.