If you love travel but worry about your carbon footprint, a low carbon holiday might just be the answer.
What are low carbon holidays?
There have been countless articles and studies about plane travel’s impact on the environment. In 2010, The Guardian estimated that flights contributed 13% to 15% to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
So, a low carbon holiday is simply that: a holiday that reduces the amount of carbon emissions of a traditional vacation — usually by skipping the plane and opting instead for alternative transportation like trains.
Many times, low carbon vacations go hand-in-hand with "responsible tourism" in general, which can mean taking a respectful attitude toward the local people, the culture as well as the environment.
To do this, holiday makers utilise public transportation throughout the holiday, opting for cycling and walking focussed activities, staying in eco-friendly accommodation — sometimes even volunteering with local groups.
If all of the above sounds good to you, then you don’t have to give up travel if you’re concerned about climate change.
Green holidays from Britain
Britain is well connected by a network of railways, and adding more and more destinations, direct routes and high-speed trains all the time.
This means residents of England, Wales and Scotland have several options when choosing a trip — and you might be surprised at the range of holiday types you can take while keeping your carbon footprint in check.
Below we’ve outlined four potential trips to consider for your next holiday, which should keep you from putting too big a dent in your carbon footprint, while also offering a much-needed, stress-free break.
A treasured National Park in Cumbria, The Lake District community has made a public commitment to reducing their carbon emissions to secure the wildlife and landscape, and by pushing local businesses to tap into the low-impact holiday market.
The Lake District is well connected — you can get to the area by train easily from larger stations including Glasgow, York, London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester.
As an area, the Lake District is concerned with the effects of climate change, and local initiatives such as the GoLakes travel programme sets out to change how visitors get to, and experience the Lake District.
The area offers no shortage of beautiful scenery to drink in — between the lakes, forests and mountain, the district boasts the deepest lake as well as the highest peak in England.
Accessible from England by either train or ferry, Amsterdam is the perfect low-impact short break.
Packed full of culture with top-notch art museums and defined by its eschewing of cars for eco-friendly bicycles and canal boats, Amsterdam is also easily walkable.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands capital has no shortage of green lodging, with several hotels in the heart of the city providing furniture from recycled materials, operating out of repurposed buildings and serving organic food and drink.
If you’re desperate for a beach holiday, the good news is this Mediterranean destination now has a direct train from London via Eurostar.
Not typically thought of as a green holiday spot, there is a growing movement to create more environmentally friendly options, including eco hotels and bikes available to rent from stations.
Famous for its campsites, Cornwall had been offering eco friendly camping holidays well before they hit the mainstream.
The Cornwall Sustainable Tourism project provides guidance and support to local businesses to ensure that the area’s main tourism asset - the natural environment - can be protected as well as enjoyed.
If you're hungry for more ways to be more environmentally friendly, read our tips and guides to energy saving around the home.
And if you're looking for a taste of the outdoors but prefer to keep under cover, take a look at our top 20 Instagrammable greenhouses around the world.
Take a trip without leaving home
One of the best ways to cut your carbon is by not travelling at all - but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on sightseeing. We've rounded up some of the best virtual tours you can do from the comfort of your own home, from NASA tours to visiting the seven wonders of the world. Check them out here.