The true price of our holidays

Kim Berrendorf
July 8, 2019
It’s the climate that pays the real price for our holidays, especially when it comes to long-distances flights. But it doesn’t have to be that way, especially when everything here is so close and so beautiful.

The hidden costs of the annual highlight

For many, the summer holidays are the highlight of the year. Finally ... freedom, sunshine and new places to discover. An extended trip is what many of us work towards the whole year long. Although most of us like to really go all out for our holidays, the majority of us still want to get value for money. But does the price of our holidays really cover all the costs we generate? A rhetorical question; our climate pays the price, especially for flying. A flight to Mallorca for CHF 50 could never possibly factor in compensation for the approximately 1.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions generated.

CO2 footprint and the Grand Canyon

To get an idea of the real price, it’s helpful to look at an example.

You can buy a one-way flight to Las Vegas to visit the Grand Canyon from about CHF 600 to 700. Given the almost six tonnes of CO2 emissions generated by a one-way flight to Vegas, you would have to make a donation of CHF 150 to compensatory climate projects to get you off the hook.

Incidentally, the annual budget of CO2 emissions per person per year under the Climate Agreement is 2.3 tonnes. Driving a medium-sized car for a year (12,000 km) generates about two tonnes of CO2 emissions. So flying really packs a punch, not to mention the fact that (usually) you have to come back home after your holiday too.

Instead of travelling overseas to visit the Grand Canyon, you could take a trip to the Swiss Grand Canyon, the Doubs Nature Park. Travelling by train or an average mid-sized car, this trip amounts to just 10 or 20 kg CO2 emissions respectively each way. 



The global average greenhouse gas footprint is six tonnes. Almost three times as much as the limit to stop the climate from continuing to heat up. If you add all the emissions from imported goods, i.e. emissions caused by the Swiss overseas, you get an average of 14 tonnes of CO2 emissions per capita per year for Switzerland. 

Climate costs put prices into perspective

Let’s take another popular travel destination: Palma de Mallorca. 

You can buy a one-way flight to Mallorca for anything from around CHF 50. This generates roughly 485 kg of CO2 emissions. Instead of flying to the most popular island in the Mediterranean, you could drive to Ticino, which would amount to just 70 kg CO2 each leg.

See inmitten von Bergen


The choice is pretty straightforward isn’t it? Not always. The prices for different trips vary hugely. Switzerland is not a cheap destination. But if you factor climate costs into the price, the differences in price become less and less. So the only question that remains is ... Do I want to pay the true cost of my holidays or should I just lie in my hammock and leave it to the next generation to worry about?

Where will this journey take us?

Each person has to decide for themselves where they want to go. That goes for the climate as much as for their own holidays. Nobody can tell you whether to stay at home and explore or go off in search of far-off horizons. Nobody can force you to hold your business meeting over Skype instead of flying to the meeting destination in person. We are all responsible for ourselves. But we are also responsible for everyone else and everything around us. Our actions do not take place in a vacuum, they always have consequences for our fellow humans and the environment.

It all adds up if we take so-called external factors into account, be it the costs of travelling for the climate or the impact of our actions on our environment.  


Making the most of the beauty on your doorstep with a staycation in Switzerland? Let us see! There are prizes to be won! Show us what an extraordinary holiday destination Switzerland is with a holiday photo. Post your best holiday picture using the hashtag #soclosesobeautiful (#sonahsoschön #sipressibeau #cosìvicinocosìbello) and with a little luck, you could win amazing prizes for your next holiday – in Switzerland, of course.

You can find more information on this campaign on our website.