Guide to Measuring Your Travel

2nd February 2017

Measuring Your Travel: Gathering and Aggregating Tools

Travel is one of the the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the arts sector. Here we provide some guidelines on getting started on measuring your travel and tools to help you understand your travel data.

Measuring your travel

Measuring your travel is one of the more complex areas of understanding your carbon emissions as it involves most members of staff in your organisation. It also raises some important questions surrounding what emissions you feel responsible for and how you will collect the necessary information. For example, if you pay for an artist to perform or exhibit with your organisation, are you responsible for recording how they travel to you, or do they provide the information to you as part of their contractual agreements?

When we talk about measuring travel the key units you need to measure are:

  • Mode (e.g. bus, car, train, flight)
  • Distance (e.g. miles or km)
  • Number of people

We recommend the following steps when it comes to measuring travel:

  1. Think of the different types of travel associated with your organisation to understand where you should focus your data gathering efforts. Potential types include: staff business travel, touring, artists, audiences, company van, vehicles hire.
  2. Identify some clear boundaries of responsibility for yourself in your first year of measuring travel and focus on what is manageable to you. For example, you might choose to measure your staff business travel, touring travel and the artist travel you pay for in your first year, and incrementally measure larger segments of audience travel.
  3. Decide on a system which works for you. It is important when it comes to measuring your travel that you decide on a system which works for you as it will be different for each organisation. Some organisations choose to align it with their expenses system (as travel also often leaves a financial footprint), but others centralise it within the administration team, or the artist coordinator role.

Gathering and Aggregating Travel Data is a web-based tool specifically developed for calculating expenses (including non-travel expenses) whilst simultaneously calculating emissions from travel! Available at a subsidised price to any arts organisation based in Scotland, and with hundreds of users across the country, you can find out more about it on our project page, or you can go directly to is suitable for any scale of organisation, and particularly useful for those looking to report annually on the financial and carbon costs of their travel.

Using your expenses claims system

Although we would always recommend using (see above) this may not fit with the way you work so you should aim to use a method which fits with your existing financial systems as far as possible. There are various ways in which you can gather data on travel but the easiest method is likely to be part of your expenses claims system. As well as the cost of the journey, the method you use should allow claimants to provide information on:

  • number of passengers travelling (if on public transport),
  • mode (e.g. plane, train, bus, mileage, taxi, fuel) and
  • distance travelled

Many organisations already use spreadsheet based forms and existing forms can often be amended to include fields for mode and distance. Data should be aggregated to provide total passenger mileages for each mode so it is worth thinking ahead to how this can be done easily ( e.g create separate columns in your summary spreadsheet for different modes to allow mileages to be summed). It can also save time for claimants if you include information on distances of common journeys.

To calculate your travel emissions you can use a number of available web based travel tools such as the Traveline Scotland Carbon Calculator.

If you have any questions about travel monitoring generally either give us a call, or email 

Image: Markus Splske via Flickr

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