The holidays are synonymous with family and friends. Chances are your family is scattered across the country – Aunt Mae and the cousins are in Nebraska, Grandma and Gramps spend their winters in Florida, and your best friend finishing school in Oregon – making it almost inevitable that someone is going to travel to be near their loved ones during this festive season. Whether it’s you going to see them or them coming to you, green travel can help offset the carbon footprint we leave when we’re on the road.

1. Seek out eco-conscious airlines. Air travel is the quickest but not always the greenest. Try to find cheap tickets with airlines that promote recycling. Southwest Airlines not only offers discount airfare; it recycles cabin waste, was one of the first airlines to offer electronic airline tickets, and has retrofitted its Boeing 737s with additions to the plane wings that are supposed to reduce fuel consumption by 3 percent per plane.

2. Use online airline tickets. If discount airfare is what you’re looking for you’ll be best served by booking on the Internet. Online tickets cut down on paper and make for more convenient check-in when you get to the airport.

3. Take non-stop flights. Hands down, one of the easiest ways to cut down on your carbon emissions when traveling is book non-stop airline tickets. Certain search engines specialize in tracking down cheap airfare for non-stop flights, including Lowfares and Cheaptickets.

4. Cram a year’s worth of travel into one vacation. There’s no better excuse to travel than for the holidays. You can cut back on your carbon footprint, and probably score some cheap flights, if you piggyback a personal vacation onto your holiday travel. Spend a few days with the fam then meet up with some friends for a ski trip in the Rockies before heading home.

5. Offset your carbon emissions. Even if you manage to book a cheap flight, you can still benefit from offsetting your carbon emissions. Sites like will plant trees to absorb the carbon footprint from your travel ventures.

6. Pack light. The less you take with you, the less the fuel is used to move your stuff. Keep in mind that you don’t need much stuff if home is where you’re headed for the holidays. Consider doing your holiday shopping once you get to your destination so you don’t have to add gifts to your luggage.

7. Use green travel search engines. has created a travel search engine that claims to donate 50 percent of its ad revenue to environmental organizations and help you find cheap airline tickets.

8. Opt for a volunteer vacation. So visiting your family may not be the picture-perfect holiday you have in mind. Why not take the opportunity to lend a hand and expand your national and global horizons with a volunteer vacation; this way you’re at least giving back to a community to help make up for your not-so-green travel to a far-off destination. Plus, some volunteer vacation programs partner with certain airlines to make sure you’re able to find cheap airline tickets.

9. Pack a snack. If you’ve snagged the best deal on airline tickets you’ve got to find a way to keep down your costs on the rest of the trip. Bring your own snack on the plane. Even the discount airlines still charge for food and specialty drinks.

10. Rely on public transportation. If you were lucky enough to find some cheap tickets for your flight home for the holidays, you may not be so lucky as to arrive at a convenient time for your family or friends to pick you up. Instead of taking a cab try out the public transportation for a green alternative.