Many of us are looking for a getaway, but it can be difficult to justify the trip when you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your journey.
Whether you’re planning a staycation in good old blighty or heading out further afield, here are some top tips for eco-friendly and sustainable travel!
If you can, consider a staycation in the UK. Not only is it easier for you (there’s no currency exchange, passport dramas or airport hassle…) but staying in the UK is so much more environmentally-friendly because of the absence of flights.
We have some gorgeous destinations on our doorstep and we are keeping our money in our own countries’ economy.
My personal favourites are Newquay in Cornwall, Ilfracombe in Devon and the Snowdon area in Wales.
But, lets face it, if we want some summer sun or, on the other end of the scale, some snow, it may mean leaving the UK.
You can travel by sea or Eurotunnel to France, and then go onto other European countries by train, thanks to Europe’s excellent rail network. You can also get ships directly to Spain and many other European countries such as Holland, Belgium and Denmark.
You want to go further? The good news is that flights aren’t all that bad. The average fuel consumption per transported passenger is around 4 litres per 100km, compared to cars which use 8-12 litres per 100km.
There are also big steps being taken to further reduce fuel consumption, serving environmentally-friendly meals and even adjusting the materials used for in-flight magazines (or removing them altogether)!
The most recent data puts TUI Airways as the most eco-friendly airline. So, when booking, take a few seconds to search for the eco-credentials of the airline and consider alternatives. You might even save some money choosing a more ‘no frills’ approach to flying.
Travel Options at Destination
Consider using the local public transport for more freedom; coach tours are normally run to a strict schedule, but jumping on and off the bus/train/tram/whatever at your destination means you can go and explore at your own pace, without worrying about missing the coach back. It also means you aren’t limited to your tour guide’s itinerary – you can go where you want!
By using a bike or walking around to explore the area, you’ll see and experience so much more than on a busy coach tour.
It’s easier said than done, but try to pack light – every extra kilo on the plane burns extra fuel. We all take far too many clothes and other accessories and barely wear them!
Make sure to pack your reusables, rather than single-use items. Makeup wipes can be swapped out for some reusable cotton pads, and you could bring a silicone straw with you for those evening cocktails!
You’ve got your flights, now you have to find somewhere to stay.
Choosing family-owned/independent hotels or home-stays are great ways to support local businesses, especially in the UK.
When you’re in your room/house treat it like your own home:
– Keep it tidy; sort out trash and clutter
– Hang up your towels so they need to be changed and cleaned less
– Your bedding doesn’t need changing everyday so avoid unnecessary use of resources
– Turn off lights in rooms not being used
– Be conscious of electricity being used by appliances on standby, for example unplug an empty fridge, turn TVs off at the mains, etc.
– Turn off the tap when brushing teeth and stick to short showers
– Try to avoid using the extras placed in rooms such as shampoo bottles and single-use tea and coffee items.
Taking your own shampoo bar doesn’t count towards your liquid allowance on flights and is a real space-saver in those small hotel bathrooms. No chance of mid-flight leakages!
Natural and Cultural Environment
Its time to explore! These top tips will ensure you keep the locals happy:
– Don’t litter – don’t do it anywhere! Holiday or no holiday!
– Adhere to local customs
– Be sure to ask permission before taking photos of people
– Support local shops and artisans
– Remember you are a visitor, so be kind and respectful and set a good example
Why not join in with local efforts to keep beaches clean and join a beach clean-up team for the day? You still get a day at the beach, but you’re also doing something good.
Eating and Drinking
IMPORTANT: be careful when drinking water or ice in foreign countries and avoid issues arising from the differently-treated water. Check the advice for the country you are travelling to.
You can decant bottled water into your reusable bottle to ensure the empty bottles are disposed of correctly and they are more handy to carry around.
Ideally, you should embrace a different cuisine by supporting small and local bars and restaurants.
Other Things to Consider
Reduce/resist buying souvenirs – most items taken home from holidays seem like a good idea at the time but then collect dust when you’re back to reality. Often souvenirs in tourist hotspots are unethically produced with unsustainable materials, and are usually fakes if labelled as designer.
Completely avoid any items that could be considered illegal and/or use animal or wildlife in any way; for example, products using ivory, tortoise shell, reptile skins, furs and some corals and seashells.
At the end of the day a souvenir is a lovely token to remember a holiday. Try to support local projects that hand-make items for charities and good causes.
It’s an unfortunate reality that all might not be as it seems on your dream vacation. Try to be alert to signs of slavery/trafficking. Do not enter into any confrontation or behave in a way that may cause a scene. Contact relevant local authorities to report any signs of illegal activity.
Wherever you choose to go and whatever you choose to do, make amazing memories and leave no trace except footprints in the sand.