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Last updated: 02 July 2021
The environment has become a serious talking point in recent years and has led more and more people to try to reduce their carbon footprint. Travel is a huge contributor to your carbon footprint and is definitely one of the best places to start if you want to go green. However, we all need a holiday sometimes – so what are your options if you’re trying to travel less? Read our useful guide to find out more about low carbon holidays and discover some of our top recommendations for environmentally friendly travel.
What is eco friendly travel?
Globally, transport accounts for roughly a quarter of carbon emissions. Flights contribute an astonishing 15% of these emissions. The longer the flight, the greater the emissions. By reducing the distance you travel for a holiday and cutting flights out of your regular transport modes you can massively reduce your energy use and the impact you are having on the environment.
The term ‘low carbon holiday’ is often linked with responsible tourism. Not only can you reduce the distance you travel, or stop flying altogether, but you can also take part in responsible tourism when on holiday. This means doing things such as staying in eco-friendly accommodation, opting for walking or cycling activities instead of driving, or taking public transport instead of private taxis. Responsible tourism helps sustain local communities and conserves the natural and cultural heritage of the places you travel to.
This doesn’t mean you can’t continue to travel and explore the world, but it does mean changing the way you travel.
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Why is eco friendly responsible travel popular?
The world is becoming increasingly tuned in to the reality of climate change. Flying has been a regular contributor to climate change since commercial flights began and the number of flights taking off has increased throughout the years. Finally, we are seeing a shift in the average consumer’s attitude to climate change, with many more of us understanding that we must reduce our carbon footprints.
Travel is one of the easiest places to start when attempting to reduce your carbon footprint, as flights contribute significantly to it. There have also been calls for a global tax on aviation in order to reduce the number of flights and halt the current trend in carbon emissions.
Eco friendly holidays in the UK
Although it may not feel like the most exciting holiday, there are many adventures to be found at home in the UK. We are lucky enough to have incredible culture, history and landscapes without having to travel far at all. We are also well connected by a large network of railways and roads leading to every corner of the country. Despite not being the biggest country there are also plenty of secret spots that you can visit to get away from it all. Here are some of our top recommendations for travel around the UK:
- Scotland – Scotland is awash with historical locations and some of the world’s most stunning countryside. You can get to Edinburgh on the train in under six hours and explore from there. It’s not hard to escape the tourists with plenty of remote locations to visit – hop on a ferry to explore the islands of the West coast or climb aboard the Caledonian Sleeper, a famous overnight railway route that stops in Scotland’s main cities.
- Wales – one of the best ways to visit Wales is on a canal boat. There are miles of canals in Wales, and travelling along them allows you see wildlife, explore aqueducts or even just plenty of pubs! Alternatively, explore the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, for activities such as kayaking, coasteering and hiking, as well as plenty of eco-friendly lodging options available.
- Devon and Cornwall – these Southwestern counties have long been a destination for staycationers. The rolling green hills, and sandy beaches provide the perfect destination for the UK in the summer months. Both locations have great options for sustainable tourism, with plenty of eco-friendly lodging and camping. Check out the Eden Project for impressive biomes with diverse climates and environments.
- Lake District – The Lake District has long made a commitment to reducing carbon emissions in the area. The National Park has a plethora of lakes, forests and mountains to explore, with both the deepest lake and highest point in England.
Eco friendly holidays in Europe
If you feel like you need to get out of the UK, then there plenty of other low carbon holiday options to consider. With Europe a short train journey or ferry away, you can visit some amazing places without flying and whilst practising responsible tourism. Here are some of our top European recommendations for travelling outside of the UK:
- Amsterdam – you can get to Amsterdam from the UK easily by ferry or train for an easy low carbon break. The city itself has a bicycle and canal culture, and is very easy to walk around, making it the perfect eco-friendly city.
- Dublin – purchase a Rail and Sail ticket and take the ferry to Ireland where you can then travel by rail around the country. Ireland has beautiful countryside and coastline, or you can visit the Guinness factory for pint of Irish culture!
- Brussels – you can get to Brussels on the train from St Pancras in less than two hours. With a rich history, and delicious food, beer and chocolate options, the Belgian capital is an excellent low carbon option.
- Spain – you have almost unlimited options when visiting Spain. Barcelona has eco-accommodation available and you can even volunteer to scuba dive for plastic waste, or care for rescued cats and dogs. Bilbao is another low carbon holiday destination as you can travel there by ferry. The Guggenheim is a world-famous art museum there that you can explore.
- France – the Eurostar has made it incredibly easy to get to and from France from the UK. With more than ten trains leaving St Pancras to Paris a day, and a journey time of just 2 and a quarter hours, it is the easiest way to get to Europe to avoid flying. Since January 1st, 2020, Eurostar has been planting a tree for every train service it operates. Once in Paris, there is a large railway network to many parts of France, and from vineyards to skiing there is plenty to explore.