Sustainable travel

Sustainable travel: Are you still on vacation or are you already traveling?

1,000,000,000,000 kg (1 trillion) of climate-damaging emissions are caused by tourism alone. This corresponds to around 5% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. Of this, 40% is caused by air travel, 32% by car traffic and 21% by accommodation. (Source: Federal Environment Agency )

As if that wasn’t enough, there are many other negative effects: the consumption of water, land and goods at the holiday destination, the amount of waste and the resulting loss of ⁠biodiversity⁠. In addition, the population is often exploited for starvation wages or even child labour.

The industry is huge and constantly growing. In 2017 the Germans did it

  • 70 million holiday trips (of more than 5 days),
  • 80 million short trips (less than 5 days)

and spent around 90 billion euros on it. A large part of the holiday trips went abroad and very often by plane.

Does acting sustainably mean always automatically making sacrifices?

Should we do without meat, dairy products, constantly new clothes or the most modern smartphone and now also our well-deserved vacation? Or at least the convenience of vacationing, excessive consumption and adventure? But haven’t we worked hard for the “best weeks of the year” and actually deserved it?

Of course we have! In our article, we therefore want to explore the question of how one can travel without harming the environment too much and without actually having to do without anything.

Renunciation always has a bitter aftertaste. But is it really renunciation? Or is it rather “whining at a very high level”? Do we just have to adjust our mindset and not think about what we have to give up, but rather what we gain?

Do we really give up something when we are not lying on the beach in Mallorca and in the garden with friends? Do we really give up our individuality when we cycle through Brittany instead of traveling through Puerto Rico? Turning to travel – instead of just “just” going on vacation – is the way we want to show you to be more sustainable and not really have to do without anything … on the contrary!

What is the difference between vacationers and travelers?

Since there is no general definition of these two terms, we would like to give you our very personal idea of travel and the difference to vacation making. However, it must also be said very clearly that sometimes the transitions are fluid and travelers do not always behave completely environmentally friendly.

What are vacationers?

We (and I’m sure many of you too) understand vacationers to be people who, at least once a year, strive for relaxation, variety, an escape from the daily grind and not having to think about anything. They want to leave their normal life behind for a moment and not have to worry about anything. You don’t want to cook, you want to be taken care of with full board. They don’t want to have to organize anything and prefer to book a package tour. They want to see the world and take all the conveniences with them.

In principle, this is not objectionable at all. It would be nice if you then at least book an environmentally friendly resort and travel by train instead of flying to a club in Morocco or booking the AIDA.

What are travelers?

Travelers are not concerned with escaping everyday life. They take a completely different approach. Travelers first think of the interesting time that will come to them on a trip, of the new experiences and adventures, of getting to know new people, new culinary delights, beautiful natural experiences, regions and cultures.

take out steam

Traveling always means slowing down, moving slowly and, above all, bringing more time with you. You just can’t really travel in 2 weeks. Under the motto “The journey is the destination”, people largely avoid fast means of transport when traveling and instead take the train, bus, car or bicycle.

Here is a brief refresher: The following CO 2 emissions are caused in grams per person and kilometer: Airplane in domestic traffic 284Car 152Train in long-distance traffic 50Coaches 36Bus long-distance 27 According to this, a regularly operating long-distance bus causes just one tenth of the emissions of an airplane. (Source: Federal Environment Agency )

Air travel is also OK

You can also use the plane when traveling. After all, it is important to get to know more distant, foreign cultures, countries, languages and customs. Proportionality is important here. Only if it really cannot be avoided will people fly and the flight will also be offset in terms of CO 2 by providers such as atmosfair or myclimate. In many cases, however, one only thinks that flying would not be possible, although one can also travel to Asia by train, etc. But this just takes a lot more time.

Get out of the system

A traveler bids farewell to the existing system. Finding the cheapest fare, the cheapest (and therefore usually inferior) food, the fastest connection and the most comfortable hotel facility is not important to someone who really wants to travel. Of course you should and must watch your money when traveling – but in other ways. But it can also simply mean that you travel less often, but then do it properly.

Instead of leaving everything to a holiday operator and lazing on the beach, travel is about the experience and spontaneity. This alone will give you unforgettable memories that you won’t get with a package tour. If you try with your hands and feet to explain to the Spanish train ticket seller that you want to buy two tickets for the next day and a man who is queuing for a ticket himself jumps in, pulls out his little nuggets of German and helps to clarify the situation and then you invite him for a coffee and chat, then you certainly got to know the country and its people much better than if everything had been organized from the start.

It can also be useful in a group

Getting out of the system does not always mean that individual holidays are best. There are certainly arguments for traveling with specialized tour operators. If you think you have to explore the last corner of untouched nature with individuality, a package tour from a green provider that has been put together under sustainability aspects should be preferred in case of doubt.

Appreciate the special

A journey is experienced as something truly special and not taken for granted. Just as Sunday roasts were once a specialty (and most eat meat almost every day these days), the traveler is remembering to appreciate the privilege of being able to travel.

You can also relax in the garden or at the local outdoor pool

Since, as I said, vacationers are more concerned with escaping everyday life, with pure relaxation and recuperation, one can easily argue that they could also do this with friends or family in the garden, at the local outdoor pool or even at the Dutch sea . Do you really have to go to Mallorca or even the Caribbean?

passion and interest

It is much more important for a traveler to pursue their interests and choose a destination that excites them and that they want to learn more about… and not to choose because the offers there are particularly cheap. You should be on fire and passionate about a journey, expand your knowledge and think outside the box. Incidentally, this does not mean that you scour the obvious sights, but really immerse yourself in life and let yourself drift.

Always ask yourself first what you expect from the trip and then make your decision about the destination

Instead of saying, “I want to go to America”, it would be better to ask yourself one of the following questions: “What am I looking for? What do I expect from the trip? What are my real needs? What do I want to achieve with the trip?

When answering these questions, you may find that these expectations and needs can also be met much more closely in the same way or even better. Here are a few examples that should make this clearer to you: You are looking for/would like to…

… Rest and relaxation

You can also find peace and relaxation on your own balcony, with friends in the allotment garden, on a bike tour with friends or on a nice hike with your partner through a nearby forest.

… stillness and self-awareness

Even if you are not Christian, you can imitate the father of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Abraham, and hike one of the countless pilgrimage routes. In Germany alone there are dozens of pilgrimage routes that take you through great nature and allow you to switch off completely

Monasteries and other spiritual centers also offer the perfect environment for introspection and contemplation.

… meet people and/or get to know new people

There are countless offers of sustainably organized group trips where people paint together, do sports, give courses or do yoga. Join one of these trips – within Germany or by bus in neighboring countries.

… celebrate and have fun

There are also sustainable offers for people who are looking for fun and want to celebrate. Choose destinations and clubs that are easily accessible by train or long-distance coach and that offer sustainable accommodation and sustainable clubs.

… improve your status

Even if you should certainly be aware that this should not be a desirable vacation destination, there are enough people who travel to the USA, the Caribbean or Thailand for exactly this reason. Perhaps you should reconsider that goal and work on the problem yourself.

… Experience adventures

Instead of bungee jumping in New Zealand, you could go rafting in the Allgäu (but please pay attention to breeding times and the generally environmentally friendly treatment of nature), instead of racing through the Everglades in Florida in a speedboat, a houseboat tour on the Loire is the best option certainly just as adventurous, albeit in a different way. Instead of a motorcycle tour to Ayers Rock, you will definitely experience a lot of adventures on a bike and climbing tour in the Saxon Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

… Be free

Do you want to feel free? No problem. But you don’t have to travel to Tierra del Fuego for that. Renting a camper for two or three and exploring Europe will certainly also give you a feeling of freedom. Here’s another little numbers game: On the flight to Tierra del Fuego (flight Munich-Ushuaia), two people would produce 17,294 kg of CO₂ emissions (source: atmosfair ). According to Dekra , with a fully loaded, medium-sized camper you consume an average of 300 g/km and could therefore drive almost 60,000 km all over Europe.

Sustainable travel: From big to small

First and foremost, we need to change our attitude towards travel itself – away from ill-considered vacations, towards real vacations and travel . We can no longer regard flying as an achievement of our prosperity and as a matter of course, but rather recognize what is special about it.

Taking a real holiday means that you can sometimes stretch out on all fours and let yourself be pampered. can. As long as you pay attention to a few basics, such as choosing the right hotel, choosing a sustainable tour operator and, above all, choosing the right means of transport on holiday, this is perfectly fine and understandable.

Conscious travel always automatically means sustainable travel. If you want to go one better at the end, we have put together some small tips that have an additional, good influence on the global climate at the lower end of the possibilities:

  • Choose your hotel more consciously: Look for eco-labels, organic hotels, the hotel’s clear position on the subject of sustainability and the experiences of other travelers.
  • Virtual travel: The increasingly exciting, individual and unusual offers in the field of virtual travel are really ingenious – also with VR glasses.
  • Make a lasting record of your trip: Instead of burdening your virtual photo storage (because that also consumes a lot of resources), make a pretty photo book (made of FSC®-certified photo paper) into which you can also stick tickets and other souvenirs.
  • Be a role model: If the opportunity arises – this is not about know-it-alls or organized proselytizing – you could leave a lasting impression at your holiday destination. Unfortunately, there are many (mostly poorer) countries for which environmental protection and sustainability are of little importance and where plastic waste is lying around everywhere. Unfortunately, some industrial nations, such as Germany, dispose of their plastic waste in precisely these countries, such as Malaysia or Turkey. Talk to other vacationers and organize a beach or forest cleaning, talk to people about ways of avoiding waste and look for actions by local NGOs or your hostel and just get involved.


Everyone has to ask themselves: How much do I still expect of the world and does my personal experience compare to that? I don’t necessarily have to celebrate on Mallorca, I can actually find peace and relaxation everywhere without getting on a plane. Yes, there are definitely reasons to go on vacation or to fly. Nevertheless, we need a different relationship to these expensive types of travel.

Of course you are not new to sustainability. Nevertheless, we hope to be able to give you some new ideas and perspectives with our contribution, so that your next vacation becomes a true journey or a more conscious vacation. Our lunch bag, the natural soaps and beeswax towels can certainly serve you well and give you and your travel partner additional, lasting joy.