Calculating the carbon emissions of holidays – Key findings

Here we detail the key findings of our study into the carbon emissions of holidays, looking specifically at transport, accommodation and food.

In the table below are the locations of the holidays and the transport options used for the lower and higher CO2 transport scenarios. All transport CO2 is calculated as a return to London, UK.

Holidays Location Lower CO2 return transport Higher CO2 return transport
Holiday 1
All-inclusive guesthouse
Western France Train + owner’s car Flight + taxi + train + owner’s car
Holiday 2
Farmstay self catering cottages
North Devon, UK Train + owner’s car Car
Holiday 3
Shared house
Croatian island of Vis Train + ferry + owner’s car Flight + bus + ferry + owner’s car
Holiday 4
Sports hotel
Cataluña, Spain Train + owner’s car Flight + bus + owner’s car


Per person, total holiday emissions over five days

Holidays Food [1] Accommodation [2] Lower CO2 transport [3] Higher CO2 transport [4]
Holiday 1 55 26.5 51 102
Holiday 2 n/a 19.5 20 37
Holiday 3 14 23 119 243
Holiday 4 n/a 29 75 169
[1] (emissions per person, kg CO2e - LCA)
[2] (emissions per person, based on emissions per bed night( kg CO2e – LCA))
[3] (per person, return, kg CO2-e)
[4] (per person, return, kg CO2-e)

  • For a five day all inclusive holiday at Holiday 1, food emissions will be more in total than the emissions from the hotel (per person) AND more than the emissions for your transport if arriving by train (the lower CO2 transport option).



Per person, total holiday emissions over seven days

Holidays Food [1] Accommodation [2] Lower CO2 transport [3] Higher CO2 transport [4]
Holiday 1 77 37.1 51 102
Holiday 2 n/a 27.3 20 37
Holiday 3 19.6 32.2 119 243
Holiday 4 n/a 40.6 75 169
[1] (emissions per person, kg CO2e - LCA)
[2] (emissions per person, based on emissions per bed night( kg CO2e – LCA))
[3] (per person, return, kg CO2-e)
[4] (per person, return, kg CO2-e)


Per person, total holiday emissions over ten days

Holidays Food [1] Accommodation [2] Lower CO2 transport [3] Higher CO2 transport [4]
Holiday 1 110 53 51 102
Holiday 2 n/a 39 20 37
Holiday 3 28 46 119 243
Holiday 4 n/a 58 75 169
[1] (emissions per person, kg CO2e - LCA)
[2] (emissions per person, based on emissions per bed night( kg CO2e – LCA))
[3] (per person, return, kg CO2-e)
[4] (per person, return, kg CO2-e)

  • For a ten day trip at Holiday 1, emissions are:
    • Higher for food per person than for the return transport when flying
    • Food emissions per person are more than double the emissions for travelling to your holiday and back by train. Emissions are also over double that of the accommodation there too.

  • For a ten day trip to UK based, Holiday 2, arriving by train, total holiday emissions may be as low as 59kg CO2-e per person (not including food). Adding a low-carbon food choice at 5kg CO2-e per day, such a holiday may result in emissions of 109kg CO2-e over ten days, which is very close (10.9kg CO2-e) to the global sustainable average per day emissions of about 10kg CO2-e per person, and lower than the current per day, per person emissions in the UK (20 kg CO2)*.




* Based on the assumption of 491 Mt CO2-e and a population of 66.44 million
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