One thing the year 2020 showed us was that when we’re prevented from traveling, it’s better for the environment. In a normal year, air travel accounts for more than two per cent of all CO2 emissions, while road traffic is a whopping 74 percent.
So does this mean we should wave goodbye to our dreams of visiting far-flung corners of the earth? Not if we’re careful, and there are many ways to keep our trips sustainable as well as fantastic!
Many are avoiding flying these days due to the ecological cost. Holidaying in the UK is the easiest way to enjoy a trip without taking to the skies, and if you take public transport instead of your car, that’s greener still. But if you want to head further afield you could consider getting a train to the Eurostar and going interrailing around Europe as an environmentally-friendly alternative.
Sometimes air travel is the only feasible option, in which case some airlines will offset your flight, putting money into eco-projects, such as tree planting.
In terms of your destination, why not choose to go somewhere away from the crowds? This way, you won’t contribute to over-tourism in the likes of Venice and Florence. You might find you uncover somewhere quite wonderful in the process.
Rather than staying in a hotel, you could try camping, or glamping. This would save the pennies, but is also a more eco-friendly option, using fewer resources, particularly if you pick an off-grid campsite.
Keep transport while you’re there to a minimum, possibly hiring bikes rather than a car, and try to ensure everything you buy is from the region. This is the ‘live like a local’ concept, where the restaurants in which you eat, the groceries you buy, and the souvenirs you purchase are all supporting people from the area. Helping with a beach clean is another way to give something back – and is great for endearing yourself to the locals.
More and more places are responding to the global desire to go green. Armiro Boutique Houses in Greece, for instance, has rainwater harvesting systems, and restaurants that serve locally sourced food. Tiamo Resorts in the Bahamas, meanwhile, powers the resort with solar panels; The Westin in Valencia, Spain, has been awarded a Green Michelin Star; and Hotel Valsana in Switzerland uses an energy-recovery ‘ice battery’ for heating the alpine resort.
Going away does not mean the end of going green. Having an eco-friendly holiday can improve your experience in so many ways – not just offering the chance to find somewhere new, but increasing your interaction with locals, sampling interesting new cuisines and generally feeling better about yourself and your impact on the world. You might also inspire others to do likewise.