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People from the Nordic countries make the most trips per person in the world. Finns are unfortunately at the top of this list. Instead of the number of trips, invest in the content of your trip and travel sustainably. The components of sustainable travelling include environmentally friendly modes of transport and activities at the destination, as well as possible carbon offsets.
An adult and a child sitting on a train and examining a map at a table.
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Travelling can be one of life's greatest joys. New cultures, people and natural conditions combined with a sense of freedom make many people travel over and over again. But how to travel sustainably?

Steps to sustainable travelling

Think about where you travel.

The more you travel, the more important it is where you travel. For example, long-distance flights from Finland to Asia produce vast amounts of emissions, while travelling within Finland or Europe by public transport can be a relatively low-emission mode of travel.

Choose your means of transport carefully.

The largest emissions from travelling are caused by traffic, mostly flying and private motoring. It is worth considering whether you could for instance reach your destination by train – many of you surely know how nice it can be to travel by Interrail!

Favour travel destinations and accommodation services that take good account of ecological sustainability.

Finland has a large number of hotels and other accommodation services with the Nordic eco-label. Tourism companies also have environmental management standards (ISO 14000, and the light environmental management system Ekokompassi). Some use the international Green Key eco-label certificate.

Act responsibly at the destination.

You should consider both social and ecological sustainability at the destination – respect the local nature and culture. Take proper care of your waste even when travelling.

Consider carbon offsets.

The popularity of emission compensation through carbon offsets has been increasing. While there are uncertainties in this area, compensation from trusted operators can be a viable way to increase the sustainability of travelling. You can read more about carbon offsets here.

Globally, the impact of travelling on global warming is in the order of a few per cent. However, in rich countries, such as Finland, the figure is significantly higher, at around 10 to 20 per cent. 

Travelling can significantly increase the carbon footprint of an individual: the emissions of one long flight can be higher than, for example, the emissions from a whole year of private motoring. People from the Nordic countries make the most trips per person in the world. Finns are unfortunately at the top of this list. For example, in 2017, Finns made more than five million flights abroad. Of these, approximately 72 per cent were leisure trips.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on people's travel and, in particular, flying habits. Global emissions from travel went down momentarily, but the overall trend for air traffic is still growing. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted that the volume of air traffic will almost double from the 2016 level to 2036, when the number of air passengers would be 7.8 billion.

Read more

Calculate the climate impact of your travel with the Climate Diet
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Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)