Green Holidays

We all love a holiday and no doubt in the past we’ve just booked one without consideration for the environment. Whether it’s how we travelled, what we did when we got there or how tourism has impacted on the destinations we’ve been to, we didn’t give it a thought.

So in these times of being more considerate in our actions, perhaps we should think about how we holiday in future.

Obviously, there is an impact on everything we do but if we choose wisely, we can minimise any damage that’s associated with holidays.

For instance, think about choosing a destination that can be reached by transport that is as environmentally friendly as possible. Perhaps take the train instead of flying.

Whether you holiday at home rather than venturing abroad, you will save carbon emissions. Many European countries have excellent rail links so you aren’t restricted to just the UK. And you’ll see more of the countryside and sights from a train than you will by plane.

Once at your destination, do your best to get around the area on foot or by cycling, or by using public transport rather than hiring a car.

Choose activities that don’t adversely affect the surroundings; take walks in the countryside and stop to appreciate the views and nature. Relax, breathe in the atmosphere and appreciate what’s there. As well as not impacting the area, this is good for your physical and mental health.

Try paddle-boarding or surfing, or just sit on the beach with the kids and do the old-fashioned things like building sandcastles, playing boules or flying a kite. An added benefit of this is that it’s mostly free!

When I was a kid, Mum and Dad couldn’t afford many holidays for us, so we used to travel the 30 miles to the coast and they chose a beach in an area where there were no facilities apart from toilets, so nothing to spend money on. As kids, me and my siblings were perfectly happy to spend the whole day on the beach, in and out of the water, a picnic lunch and the occasional ice cream if the van was there. Younger kids are perfectly happy playing with a ball or using their imagination building a sandcastle, they don’t need expensive toys or tech to keep them amused. Give them a colouring book and join in with them and they’ll love it. Most of the time they just want to spend time with you.

Accommodation can be chosen by green credentials; some hotels will have an Eco certificate but look for comments on their website such as – do they mention how they recycle, is their food local and seasonal and if a newer build property, were sustainable materials used in its construction?

Some hotels have natural swimming pools. These are pools that are purified and filtered by water plants and natural biological systems, removing the need for chemicals to be used in keeping the water clean.

Is the energy they use clean? Are they able to use harvested water, and limit water usage as much as possible?

It may take a bit of time to research and find a hotel which fits your ideals and standards but if you’re serious about making a difference, however small, it will be worthwhile. And if enough of us take the trouble and insist on our standards being met, then more hotels and resorts will be forced to follow suit, giving us more choice and improving the environment.

I look at resorts in brochures, watch travel programmes on TV  and am shocked at the amount of buildings I see. People flock to visit places that were once beautiful tiny fishing villages but are now sprawling masses of hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs. It all seems very sad but we all like to go to far off places, feel the sun on our backs and forget our usual hectic daily lives for a couple of weeks, so I get it, but we should now slow down this exploitation of our planet.

I know a lot of countries rely on tourism but surely there must be a compromise somewhere?

We all have a responsibility to the planet and others, so leave nothing behind, pick up litter, respect the locals and their home towns by having as little impact as possible while you’re at your chosen paradise.

There are websites dedicated to helping you find sustainable holidays, making the task easier – after all, holidays and their planning should be fun and exciting, not an erroneous task that we dread, so take advantage of these sites, they’ve done some of the work for you.

Enjoy your holiday, wherever you go, but be considerate to make sure that future generations can enjoy it too.