Thinking about making your holidays a little more environmentally friendly? With a little research and a little thought, it’s not too difficult.
The first thing to consider of course is where you are going to go – the closer, the better in terms of the environment. Britain is a beautiful country; too many people are seduced by the ideas of sun, but try staying local this summer (the forecast isn’t too terrible!) Children love exploring this island, go somewhere new; if you’ve never been to Norfolk, try the beaches there, go to Cornwall, go to the Lakes – millions of tourists come to these shores every year, why not follow their example! Take a look at the http://www.takethefamily.com British recommendations.
The second thing to consider is how you get there – train travel is enjoying a revival at the moment. Take the train and then hire a car once you get there if you can’t bear the thought of being without wheels. Or better still go by bike – there is nothing better than peddling quietly down beautiful country lanes, a nice B&B beckoning, a holiday the old fashioned way – you could even buy some ‘ginger pop’! Double bikes, Bike baby carriers, there are a hundred ways of doing this with children.
If you do want to go further afield, you’ll still need to consider how you get there. You can go by train all over Europe now, take advantage of this great resource. Air travel is becoming more and more stressful, bypass the queues and hop on a train, for many it’s the highlight of their holidays. Its also fun to plan your trip by train, we all have a budding train spotter hidden inside us somewhere… stick your bike on the train and you’ll never look back.
Consider where you will be staying – there are green hotels and hostels popping up all over the place, the choice is enormous and many offer attractive prices. Camping is a great way to go – your carbon footprint will be tiny and now that there are beautiful luxury campsites all over Europe, it doesn’t even mean roughing it anymore. Take a look at our ‘green recommendations’ section and choose between a yurt in Spain or a beautiful ger in France, proper beds, proper sheets, breakfast laid on and you can relax in the countryside, knowing you are not damaging it.
Bear in mind all the damage that mass tourism has done, consider the impact of package tourism, travelling responsibly does not always mean more expensively, in fact often it means quite the opposite. Look for the good places; the hotels and hostels in our ‘green recommendations’ are all places that are good value for money, but ones that have thought long and hard about minimizing their impact on the planet. Look for some commitment in their website and brochures, ignore those that just stick ‘eco’ in front of their name and then never mention it again. Places that are properly green have signed up for pledges, have joined green organisations, they can prove how green they are. It might mean using a solar lamp rather than have full-on electricity all night, it might mean hot water for only 4 hours a day, but knowing that you are not contributing to damaging the beautiful place you are staying in, makes it all worth while.
If you do decide to travel long-haul, don’t beat yourself up about it; just make sure that you are staying in somewhere that contributes to the wealth, health and well-being of its local area. Most of the places in our ‘green recommendations’ section contribute to their local area through employment, educational practices or through policies to conserve local wildlife and eco-structure. You can off-set your flight, not by paying for carbon off-set, but by staying somewhere that directly contributes to its locality. Many of the poorer countries in the world have the best ‘green’ places to stay. This needs to be encouraged; there is an argument to be made that staying away from Indonesia for example, because of worry over long-haul flights does more damage than it avoids. Go for exotic overseas holidays, just stay in great places.
Here is a quick hit-list for green travellers:
· Stay close to home
· Go camping, caravanning or hostelling – try staying in organic farms
· Travel by train or bike or at least try to do so once you are at your destination
· Stay in great ‘green’ places – look for places which recycle, use solar/wind energy, use local food (even better if its organic or biodynamic), employ local people, conserve water, have proper sewage treatment (ask them!), are not eyesores, but have been built using local material and in a sensitive way, contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, are thoughtful and sensitive of local customs and heritage, ones which actively promote cultural understanding and finally choose places that have made a long term commitment to local people and the local environs – avoid places that are there obviously to make a quick buck and to exploit, once you start looking these places are obvious
Finally have a fantastic holiday wherever you go and remember that great old Native American saying – ‘take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints’…
- Travel Green! (travelingeastwithchinawest.com)