Oliver’s Travels has teamed up with Charlie Cotton, founder of ecollective, a sustainability consultancy that is committed to helping travel companies make a positive environmental impact and cut their carbon footprint. 

Charlie lists his suggestions that we can all easily make to greatly improve the sustainability of our travels. From buying local to being energy efficient while not sacrificing luxury, there are all sorts of ways we can holiday smartly and sustainably.

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do at Oliver’s Travels. Take a look at these 10 top tips for holidaying in a sustainable way and reducing your carbon footprint.

Snow Goose, Sussex

1. Be selective with your accommodation

More and more travellers are seeking out sustainable travel options and travel companies are wising up to this. For example, Oliver’s Travels has a bespoke section on its website that outlines the most environmentally-friendly properties available and is currently auditing its entire portfolio in order to be fully accredited by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) by the end of 2022.

We are also encouraging all of Oliver’s Travels’ villas to make it really easy for guests to act responsibly during their stay and are then highlighting which properties are doing this on the website so that eco-conscious guests can make an informed decision.

2. Be selective with your destination too

An easy way to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling is by choosing a destination that has already started its switch to renewable energy. For example, do your research about a potential destination before you book and find out what they do to protect the natural environment, wildlife and resources, how they develop and manage tourism activities, and how the country as a whole recycles. 

Charlie has shared his current estimates of the carbon footprint of a typical hotel in some of the most popular holiday destinations:

  • Greece: 43 kg of CO2e per room per night
  • Croatia: 39 kg of CO2e per room per night
  • Portugal: 19 kg of CO2e per room per night
  • Italy: 14.3 kg of CO2e per room per night
  • UK: 10.4 kg of CO2e per room per night
  • Spain: 7 kg of CO2e per room per night
  • France: 6.7 kg of CO2e per room per night

Treasure Island

3. Don’t assume that you have to forego luxuries

It is very easy to presume that travelling sustainably means going back to basics, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just about buying better. Typically a property with more amenities means a higher footprint, yes, but this isn’t always the case. There are some amazing properties that have been built to be incredibly efficient and to be run on renewable energy. 

For example, one of Oliver’s Travels’ properties, Treasure Island in the Peloponnese region of Greece, completely relies on its own generation of water and energy, with rainwater being collected in reservoirs and solar panels powering all of the property’s electricity. And, as a neoclassical mansion is nestled on the beach of its own private islet, you’re definitely not foregoing luxury.

4. Not using it? Turn it off

It might sound obvious but turn off the lights, TV and other gadgets when they are not needed. You’ll be amazed at what a big impact this can have. For example, we aren’t used to a hot climate in the UK so it’s, of course, very tempting to blast the aircon whilst on holiday. But, according to Project Drawdown, this is something we both overuse and use in an inefficient way, which results in more emissions and higher bills. It is a terrible irony that a method of keeping cool is actually contributing to global warming. 

When you do use the air conditioning, make sure to keep all doors and windows closed and when you’re not inside the property, turn it off. Yes, it might be a little warm when you get back but you’ll soon cool down.

 Buy local

5. Embrace the culture by buying local

When visiting a new destination, one of the best ways to get a feel for it is to buy local and embrace its culture. This includes food, souvenirs, activities and anything else you may need. It will also greatly help with your environmental impact.

One thing that we can all do to help tackle the climate crisis is to make sure that we’re not buying goods that come from the other side of the world. Don’t buy a mango in France, for example. Instead, enjoy apples, pears and cherries, along with other produce that grows in abundance there. Not only will you experience the literal taste of your destination but buying locally-produced food is environmentally beneficial as it won’t have travelled hundreds of miles to your plate.  

6. Eat less high-carbon foods

Many people don’t realise how much carbon food can produce. For example, when at an all-inclusive hotel, a family of four typically emits around 218kg of CO2 emissions on food alone. Eating less high-carbon foods like beef, lamb and cheese is a good way to lower your emissions. Instead opt for more fruit, vegetables and nuts.

CO2 emissions from plant-based products can be as much as 50 times less than those from animal-based products, according to Our World In DataIf you do want to sample beef bourguignon when in France for example, you could then choose a vegetarian dish at lunch perhaps, or forgo having cheese in the same meal. It’s just about making conscious, informed decisions when you can.

7. Eat seasonally

Eating seasonally – eating foods when they are naturally in harvest – means that you will be consuming produce that is grown in natural sunlight rather than in a CO2-emitting greenhouse. By doing this, you will also be reducing the amount of CO2 that is emitted in transportation, with air travel being a method for transporting produce to destinations where it is out-of-season.

What’s more, according to research, eating seasonally can have nutritional benefits. For example, oranges contain the highest amount of Vitamin C when they are in season. So, not only will you be reducing your food miles and helping the environment, but you will also be consuming food that is fresher and more nutritious. 

Train travel

8. Use low-carbon forms of transport

Yes, it might not be quite as convenient as summoning an Uber but using public transport is a great way to reduce your emissions. 

Travelling on low-carbon forms of transport, such as the train or the bus, emits less than 2 and a half times that of a taxi, for example. Not only that, public transport is a great way to immerse yourself in a destination by doing as the locals do and surrounding yourself with people from the community.

Travel by walking

9. Or… don’t use transport at all! 

Have human-powered adventures instead. 

Ditch the quad bike and get your heart racing on a bicycle instead. Run to, and around, a national park. Hike to the top of that ‘must see’ viewpoint instead of opting for the cable car. By doing this, you’ll not only have a more positive impact on the environment but you’ll also have a more positive impact on your health and a more positive experience overall by getting your endorphins flowing.

10. Remember to ‘leave no trace’

“A widely-shared principle, yes, but one that is important to reiterate nevertheless. For example, many of the properties we work with are in areas of natural beauty, which is why people visit them, so it is important that we ensure that they remain areas of natural beauty for the future. 

“Having a picnic? Make sure that you don’t sit somewhere that will disturb the wildlife or damage the landscape. And when you leave, double-check that you’re taking everything that you brought with you. Especially any plastic rubbish” 

Basically, when you visit a destination, any destination, you should leave it in such a way that no one would ever know that you visited.


Oliver’s Travels is committed to sustainable travel. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Tree-Nation to plant enough trees to offset 110% of the CO2 emissions of every villa holiday booked with us. So far, we’ve planted enough trees to offset 691.41 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Take a look at our collection of sustainable villas and make your next getaway guilt-free. 

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