Tips for a green March Break vacation

This time of year, elementary and secondary schools across the country celebrate March Break. Many families pack up and head down south, visit out-of-town relatives or travel abroad. The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge asked the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading clean energy think tank, to share some of their emissions-reducing tips for a green March Break vacation.

The greenest way to travel

In North America, planes, trains and automobiles all burn fuel that produces carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas (GHG). When you head out on vacation, friends, family and fun are just a short flight away — or long road trip. How does an eco-minded traveler choose the mode of transportation? It’s important to consider how far you are going and how many people will be travelling with you. Here are a few guidelines:

Travelling on your own?

Take a train! It has the lowest GHG emissions for a single traveler, plus you get to see the countryside. For example, taking the train from Toronto to Ottawa by yourself produces 42% less emissions than driving, and 62% less emissions than flying. Always get permission from a parent or guardian.

Traveling with your family?

The key to lower emissions road trip is making sure your family fills most of the seats in the vehicle. If your family drives from Vancouver to Calgary, you would produce 56% less GHG emissions than if you all took the train, and 65% less than flying.

Going a long way?

Taking a flight may be your best bet. Since most of the fuel is burned during takeoff and landing, long trips by plane make sense. If you are going from Montreal to Jasper for a ski trip with a parent, flying is a good option. For two people, taking a plane only produces 5% more GHG emissions than the train, and 18% more than driving. Plus, you’ll get there two days faster.

While there are many factors to consider when planning a vacation with your family, it’s important to remember that the transportation methods you choose can have an impact on your overall carbon footprint.