We British love our holidays. Tourism has become a major industry – you only have to look to see travel agents everywhere offering every type of break not to mention the ability to book online. We’ve come to take the ability to jump onto a plane and go somewhere different almost as a right, and we’ve been encouraged to do so.
But it all adds to the carbon footprint we leave. Is there a way we can still enjoy our holidays but be more responsible?
You can still travel overseas and lower your carbon footprint. Try taking a train or a ferry (but make sure it’s a slow ferry, as the faster ones can emit as much carbon as planes), and use a train to reach your destination. Yes, it will take longer, but you get to see the countryside and relax into your holiday gradually.
Also, instead of a few breaks, consider one longer one. Not only will you come back feeling refreshed, but you’ll do less damage to the environment.
Since long-haul flights are relatively better than short-haul, if you’re going to fly, you actually do better to pick somewhere far away for your holiday. Combine that with an extended break and you get the best of both worlds. Remember, though, to calculate your carbon use and offset it.
Don’t take your car, and try to avoid renting one while you’re away, tempting as it is. The idea is to keep your footprint as low as possible. If you want excursions, try a bus or train. If you really must rent a car, some agencies do now offer hybrids, so go for one of those. If you want something exotic, a number of firms have sprung up to offer ethical, low-carbon holidays. Research online; they might cost a little more, but you can be guilt-free.
Holidaying At Home
If you really want to keep that footprint low, why not have a holiday in the UK? There’s plenty to see and do, enough to keep you and your family occupied for a long time.
Try a walking holiday. It’s great exercise, and if you plan it well, not too strenuous, even for kids. Find a place to start – preferably one easily accessible by public transport – and work out your route. You’ll see the country in a way you never have before, and come back feeling much fitter!
If something like that is out of the question, or just not your cup of tea, simply go to a resort and relax. Take the train, discover the place properly, and have fun. Before the advent of cheap flights, British holidays were the norm, but they’ve tended to become the exception, and that’s a shame.
That said, no one is really suggesting that we roll back time to the 1950s. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. But it’s worth noting that back then our carbon footprints were a great deal smaller.
Of course, even if you’re not on them, the flights overseas will still take off. But if more of us plump for low-carbon alternatives, then those flights will become less and less. Holiday destinations around the Mediterranean and beyond might suffer, but reducing our carbon count takes some sacrifices.