There can be a tremendous sense of environmental guilt attached to the prospect of taking a holiday abroad these days. Fuel-guzzling jetplanes are certainly not the greenest mode of transport, but thankfully there are ways to minimize your carbon footprint and still have a great time.
One of the greenest types of vacation is the all inclusive holiday. Often, transport links from airport to hotel are provided to the group as part of the package, which will mean a few less cars on the road. All inclusive holidays also tend to centre around the hotel at which you’re staying, so there are a lot less energy-consuming trips to town for food and drink. Where there are day trips, it will be a large group on a bus – again, cutting down on the need for hire cars. Thomas Cook are great exponents of the package holiday – visit their site for some ideas on Thomas Cook all inclusive holidays.
You may decide that eschewing the aeroplane altogether is your best bet. Getting to the continent is no problem by train or ferry – although the latter can be something of a red herring, as fast ferries can emit as much as planes. Take a slow ferry to Calais or Cherbourg and enjoy the journey. Once there, try seeing some more of Europe by train. It’s a fantastic way to get a feel for an area and allows you to relax whilst doing so.
Another good way to minimize your footprint is by limiting yourself to one holiday per year, rather than lots of small ones. Give yourself a longer break and then stay at home for the rest of the year.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the shorter the flight, the more damaging to the environment. It is the abundance of cheap short-haul flights that really gets environmentalists blood pressure up. With fast trains, most journeys of a few hundred miles are practically as quick – if not quicker – than flying, once you factor in the rigmarole of getting to the airport and going through security etc. Take an extended holiday to a fur-flung location and you’ll not only feel more relaxed at the end, you’ll have emitted far less carbon than taking three or four short breaks around Europe over the course of a year. Also, get involved in a carbon offsetting scheme to neutralize your holiday footprint.
As touched on earlier, the hire car is a real carbon-criminal, tempting though the option may be. If you feel you must rent a vehicle, go for a hybrid, and try to use it sparingly. If you can follow some of the suggestions above, you might find your holiday all the more satisfying for being guilt-free.