With the continued uncertainty around foreign travel, staycations are more popular than ever before. Though the boom in staycations is helping our economy and local businesses, it has also been having a positive effect on the environment. The Global Carbon Project estimates that due to grounding of many flights during the peak of the pandemic, we saw CO2 emissions from aviation reduce by up to 60 per cent. After months of ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, many of us are dreaming of a holiday this summer. We have pulled together four ways you can make greener travel choices when choosing your staycation this summer and for when foreign travel is back on the agenda.
Travel by Train
With the ongoing pandemic forcing many of us to holiday closer to home, we are fortunate that there are so many beautiful locations to explore, with our coastline, cityscapes and national parks. Aside from walking or cycling, taking the train is the most environmentally friendly way of travelling. For example, using the app EcoPassenger, which calculates per-passenger carbon emissions between destinations in Europe, for a person travelling from London to Amsterdam during a popular travel time, the CO2 output would be 124 kilograms if that person flew, versus 49 kilograms if they drove or 12 kilograms by train. With high-speed rail network and extensive transport links across the UK and throughout Europe, our staycations and future holidays can be less impactful.
Avoid Tourist Hotspots
Throughout the past 18 months, we have seen several destinations across the world which are usually overcrowded with tourists, have a reset button pushed by Mother Nature. In the Welsh village of Monmouthshire, locals watched sheep pushing each other on a roundabout in a deserted children's playground, residents of Saharanpur were able to see the snow-capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years and wild animals were seen roaming locked-down cities across the world. Overtourism can be a huge problem as an influx of visitors leads to increased water consumption, air pollution and waste. Consider swapping popular tourist destinations for an area that receives fewer visitors. This will not only lessen your impact, but you’re likely to find that it will be quieter, cheaper and you will experience things that not many others have which will also equal a more rewarding experience. By visiting tourist hot spots out of season, you will actually give the local economy a much-needed boost.
In the current climate, many of us are booking self-catering accommodation to continue social distancing. This can be a more sustainable option as a hotel room can emit up to 15 tonnes of carbon a year according to Ecometrica. This is due to the energy and water consumption from constantly laundering towels and linen, as well as the use of lights, fridges and air-con. However, there are now many eco-friendly hotels and accommodation that are putting in the effort to be greener. These accommodations may do simple things like using renewable energy sources, not washing the towels/changing linen every day, not offering plastic and recycling. The website ‘cool places’ have listed some of the best hotels, campsites and B&Bs who have gone above and beyond to be environmentally friendly across the UK: https://www.coolplaces.co.uk/places-to-stay/eco-retreats
Be a Green Guest
Though there are many hotels, campsites and B&Bs making changes to help the environment, it is also down to us as guests to play our part. Next time you are on holiday, here are some tips to consider throughout your stay and help you become a better green guest:
Choose not to have your towels and bedding changed every day to preserve water
When leaving the room remember to turn off all lights and electric devices
When leaving your room adjust the air-con/heating to conserve energy
Recycle and dispose of sanitary waste properly
Choose greener transport options, instead of renting a car choose other options to get around such as trains, buses, hiring bikes and walking
Support the area by eating at local restaurants, there are likely to be some hidden gems!
Ultimately, by making more sustainable choices while on holiday, we are not only doing our bit for the planet, but it offers us so many benefits and opportunities in return. By being more conscious of how we travel, it encourages us to help protect the environment, contribute to local communities, and experience new ways of travel in new places