Holidays are one of the highlights of the year that many people spend months looking forward to and nearly as long planning.
If you want to start enjoying greener holidays with lower carbon footprints, there are a number of aspects you can consider adapting to make your holiday more environmentally friendly.
Stay-cationing can be one option, choosing to holiday in the British Isles, but if you prefer to head overseas, there are still some options that can cut your holiday’s carbon emissions. These range from the food you choose to eat while on your holidays to the method of transport by which you travel.
The method of transportation you opt for plays a large part in how green your holidays are. Unless you’re going on a cruise for a few months, there are certain holiday destinations that you’re always going to have to travel by plane to get to, but if you’re holidaying in Europe, you can reduce your carbon emissions dramatically by avoiding flying.
With the Euro Tunnel, you can either drive, taking your own car, or travel by public transport, going by train into France with options that can get you to many European countries from Belgium and Switzerland to Germany and Portugal. You could also choose to travel by ferry to France and continue from the south of France to Italy or Spain for example.
If you want to explore the islands around the UK or Ireland, ferries are also ideal, but they can also take you further afield to explore Scandinavia. You can then choose to either utilise public transport, take your vehicle if ferries permit, or hire a vehicle once you arrive.
For holidays in the UK, you could also travel by train and utilise public transport like buses once you arrive. A number of small bed and breakfast owners offer collection from railway stations, and a lot of visitor attractions also give discounts for people who travel using public transport, so this can also help save you money on entrance fees. In particular if you’re heading to the wilderness for a walking holiday, going by train can be fun because you won’t miss your car while you’re exploring the local area anyway.
There are all types of accommodation, wherever you decide to holiday. Depending on your personal preferences and budget, there will be limitations to the types of holiday accommodation that are suitable, but there are many aspects that can help cut the carbon compared to big chain hotels.
One thing to consider is supporting local and independent businesses. Bed and Breakfasts, Guest Houses and Boutique Hotels can be beautiful and unique, although people can sometimes be put off because the cost can be higher. The difference that money spent with independent businesses makes, however, can be dramatically higher because they often support fellow small businesses, from laundry services to food producers and even the furnishings and tradespeople they use if repairs or work on properties are needed. In addition, if you go direct to an independent holiday business, you may be able to negotiate a discount, or get money off longer stays.
You could also choose to holiday under canvas or in alternative holiday accommodation such as a caravan, yurt or tree-house. Whether you have your own tent or home on wheels which you can use to travel around the UK or even to Europe, or hire a fixed yurt or tipi to share with your family or friends, these temporary structures are often made with renewable materials like wood, and give you a more back to basics holiday experience, with outdoor cooking and living accommodation outside in the elements.
The popularity of these options can be reduced in poor weather, but many eco-chic yurts and tree houses even come complete with a wood burning stove, making a spring or autumn evening much more enjoyable and adding a touch of the glamping edge to your experience.
One of the most enjoyable things about visiting new places is having the chance to experience new foods and local delicacies. This could be by eating out at a local gastro pub that sources ingredients from local producers, or by purchasing ingredients from a market or farm shop to cook in your self catering barn conversion or outside the tent. Some holiday accommodation owners will even order in deliveries from local box schemes or farm shops ready for your stay.
If you’re staying near the sea, enjoying freshly caught fish is a really enjoyable experience, and many fishing towns and villages have restaurants dishing up the catch of the day. As well as being good eating, your purchases also help support the local industries and keep small family businesses going, so it really is a win-win situation for everybody.
So you’re avoiding the supermarkets and chain hotels and opting for something a little bit different. Otherwise, what would be the point in going on holiday anyway? But there are also lots of things you can do while visiting a new part of the UK, Ireland or Europe. Holidays are about creating memories and spending time together doing things you can’t do at home, so check out the leaflets in the cottage info pack, boutique hotel lobby or your room in the bed and breakfast. Even campsite toilets or shops often have suggestions for places to visit, or why not ask the owner where they would recommend. You could even discover places off the beaten track that don’t usually make it into the top ten leaflets and tourist websites.
As well as castles, historic houses and gardens run by English Heritage, Cadw and The National Trust you can visit, there is increasing popularity for activity holidays. Many countryside holidays have options like canoeing and kayaking, horse riding and pony trekking, beach sports like kite surfing and boat trips. For the less active, art and craft sessions at independent pottery studios and galleries showcasing local artists can provide local culture and even provide a nice alternative for holiday souvenirs.
Whatever type of holiday you like, there are many ways to make your vacation greener. Anything that helps support independent businesses and feeds into local communities can help keep the country diverse and enable smaller enterprises to keep going. The main thing is to have fun, but if you can make a difference to somebody else’s livelihood and lifestyle at the same time, whilst creating new memories and having new experiences, that can only be good.