What I did on my holidays

I recently had my first foreign holiday for 4 years, a week in Sorrento, Italy.

Weather was great, 24 degrees all week, people were lovely and the food was great.

There are a few places for sightseeing around Sorrento, such as the island of Capri, Pompeii and Vesuvius and the Amalfi coast, my wife and I decided we would like to visit these well known sites.

We started off on a boat trip to Capri. The boat only held 12 people and the 2 man crew were great, pointing out areas of interest on the approach to and around the island. The landscape is stunning, the water clear and blue and at this point it was very relaxing.

We did notice that at the areas of interest around the island that there was always about 15 or so other boats, all trying to get the best view and experience, to the point that minor arguments between the crews ensued.

This is to be expected, as the area attracts huge numbers of tourists, all wanting to see the natural wonders of the area. However, it was when we landed on Capri that we were shocked at just how many people were there.

From the port to Anacapri, a town about 2/3rds up the mountain, the crowds were vast. Just walking about we were shoulder to shoulder, buses were jam packed and we felt uncomfortable amongst that many people. Trying to get about was unpleasant and spoilt the trip for us.

I understand that we were part of the problem, although only 2 people, part of the 15,000 people that visit the island every day – and that’s in October, which is supposed to be the end of the season, so what the crowds would be like in high season I hate to think.

The Amalfi coast trip was the same, travelling by bus we were nose to tail all the away there and back. The stop offs in Amalfi and Positano were extremely busy and it was hard to find somewhere to have lunch or just a drink.

We tried to not let it spoil our holiday too much, after all, the world is there for everyone to see but it did make me think that us humans are having this huge effect on it.

All the buses and boats using fuel to get about and polluting the atmosphere, the airplanes that get us there and the logistics of the locals catering for our needs – all these things have an effect on the environment. It did make me feel like us humans are ruining the planet.

I completely understand that wherever we holiday in the world, we create wealth for the local economies and without tourism there would probably be more poverty, it’s just that when you see that many people in a small space it does make you wonder what we’re doing to the planet.

It would be sad if we couldn’t see all of the beauty of the world – imagine living your whole life within a few hundred miles of your birthplace to keep pollution and damage to the environment to a minimum. Which is why we need to travel in greener ways and respect the places we visit.

There is probably no easy answer to this problem, it would be virtually impossible to restrict our travel plans. Some people love to travel and see the wonders and different cultures of the world and can’t imagine living without their holidays.

My wife and I have not travelled extensively in our lives; building our business and raising the family didn’t allow us to take many holidays, but we always thought that we would do more when the family were older or we were retired.

The family have grown and we are approaching retirement, and the business is in a position where we can take time off now. However, our recent experience almost made us feel guilty for being part of the problem, even though our lifetimes’ travel miles are minimal.

So we will think carefully about how and where we travel to in future.

We did see evidence of Italy’s commitment to sustainability in the hotel and when we were out and about.

The hotel had a recycling station on each floor next to the lift, to help sort plastic from paper etc. They had an environmental policy on display regarding energy use and other ways to be green.

In the town we saw Smart bins – public waste bins that are connected to a system and sends a signal that it needs emptying, and can also compost waste while it’s waiting to be emptied. I understand that these bins exist in the UK too but it was good to see them in Italy.

I can confirm that we did our bit while we were there – there was absolutely no food waste from our plates!

It is a difficult balancing act between wanting to travel and doing as little damage as possible to the world, and I’m not suggesting that we all stop travelling, but we all should do so as responsibly as possible. Respect the country you’re in, and try to only leave your footprints when you leave.