With concerns over climate change, many people are looking to reduce the impact their holiday travel has on the globe – but how can this be achieved?

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): “Rising global temperatures will bring changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.”

According to a Defra study, it is estimated that mean global temperatures could rise between 1.1 and 6.4°C (with a best estimate of 1.8 to 4°C) above 1990 levels by the end of this century, depending on our emissions. This will result in a rise in global sea levels of between 20 and 60cm.

There are now concerted efforts by many countries around the world to encourage businesses and individuals to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – the primary cause of climate change. Not only can this be achieved at home by minimising your energy usage, it can also be similarly achieved when you are travelling.

Reduce your carbon

The Carbon Footprint website offers the following advice for people wanting to reduce their carbon footprint while on holiday.

  • Don't use domestic flights (e.g. from London to Edinburgh) - use a train or a coach
  • Take the ferry or channel tunnel instead of flying to France
  • When on holiday, hire a bicycle to explore locally rather than a car (if you do need to hire a car, see if there are any green options)
  • When staying in a hotel, turn the lights and air-conditioning off when you leave your hotel room
  • Ask for your room towels to be washed every other day, rather than every day

Unless you are willing to spend days on trains or boats, it is inevitable that the only way to get to certain destinations is to fly. Unfortunately, it is generally accepted that the amount of carbon burned fuelling holiday flights will do more damage to the environment than any other aspect of your travels. Of course, should you have no option but to travel by plane, you can still help to redress the balance by using carbon offsets.

Organisations such as Climate Care and Carbon Footprint can help you offset your carbon emissions by investing in projects that prevent or remove an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

For example, according to Climate Care, if you were to travel from London Heathrow to New York JFK, your share of carbon emissions would equate to 1.54 tonnes of CO2. The cost of offsetting this is £11.55.

By buying vouchers to this value, these organisations use your money to invest in projects around the world. Your credits could be used in tree planting programmes, international energy-saving projects, the development of alternative power sources or the 'retirement' of corporate credits, which will encourage industry to take active steps to reduce their emissions.

Cover yourself

As much as you may believe it is important to protect the environment when you go on holiday, it is equally important that you remember to take out travel insurance to cover yourself and your possessions, should anything happen while you're away.

Direct Line provides single trip and annual travel insurance, as well as a ‘Discoverer’ option for extended trips over 91 days, up to 365 days in Europe and 550 days worldwide. All our travel policies cover you for the loss of personal possessions, emergency overseas medical care and cancellation or curtailment. Winter sport travel insurance is also available on single trip and annual travel policies.

You can find out more about our policies, including reading all the terms and conditions as well as being able to get a travel insurance quote online. And, if you buy online, you will get an instant discount.

Go to travel insurance