How to Be Eco-Friendly When Planning Your Next Holiday

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Recently, Leonardo DiCarpio announced he was taking a break from acting to fly around the world to help fight climate change. This got me thinking that perhaps people, even celebrities, aren’t quite sure how to consider the environment when planning their holidays!
For Leo, relaxation is rushing round the world pretending he’s a super-hero, which would be fine if he was a carbon-neutral Superman, but unfortunately he requires a gas-guzzling aircraft to assist his crusade.
For the every-man (and woman) thinking of taking an eco break, the main concern should be how not to destroy everything around you. Don’t worry, you won’t have to dread your hair and dress in hemp for the duration of your holiday. In this modern world of ours there are means and ways to be eco-friendly without sacrificing the essentials.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles
Although Leo might not have noticed, flying is one of the biggest growing problems of climate change. It’s come to be that a holiday isn’t a holiday without the gruelling conveyor belt of airport transfers, security checks and passport control. However, there is another way.
Trains are the romantic way to travel. They are more relaxed, comfortable and often cheaper, with the sexy by-product of a smaller carbon footprint. They reach far and wide, so you don’t have to limit yourself to a local holiday!
Plus, it’s the gift that just keeps giving. You won’t be charged for that essential suitcase of shoes or for the privilege of sitting with your children. Sit back, stretch your legs and enjoy actually seeing the country you’re visiting.
Of course, if you want to be really eco-friendly, when you reach your final destination why not cut out carbon-production altogether and travel by bike, horseback or just a good old foot?

Fly In Cattle Class

If you have to fly then make sure you’re uncomfortable. Although probably not the major concern of ‘no-frills’ airlines, the happy side effect of reducing fares to their absolute minimum (while just managing to keep your human rights intact) is that their planes are always full.
Feeling like cattle on the way to an outsourced slaughterhouse may just be worth it, as it means your holiday’s carbon footprint is actually less than full-service airlines.

Keep the Locals Happy
Everyone is trying to find the path less travelled means that all the little dirt tracks to once-forgotten beaches have been carved up, concreted over and turned into travelators. However booking an eco-friendly hotel or tour operator means you can still find your own small piece of paradise and ensure it will be there after you leave.
There is accommodation worldwide, from small eco-boutiques to large resorts and spas, which are responding to the demand for environmentally conscious tourism. Ethical tour operators can help you plan a holiday that sets out to maximize your experience while helping local communities and protecting the environment.
It’s important to do your homework, though. Green-washing is the new scam in tourism that is seeing groundless ecological claims slapped on any old tour.

What’s in Your Suitcase?
What’s the point of planning a green holiday and then filling your bag to the brim with sinful lotions and potions? Consider health and beauty products that are fair-trade and certified organic. Support companies that have a strong environmental commitment and even buy a windup torch! That warm glow is much more appealing than a fake tan anyway.  
Everyone has a different idea of a holiday. However, everyone can agree that trying to sunbathe in the shadows of the man-made hotel-mountains or trekking with abused elephants through hills of rubbish does not an enjoyable holiday make. Whatever your mode of relaxation there is a way to protect the environment you visit. Like the wisdom of toilet signs, leave it how you’d like to find it.
Are you a fan of eco-holidays? Share your favorite environmentally-friendly breaks here.

Estelle Page is a busy working mum, who is passionate about all things green. Currently, this seems have resulted in recycling old camping holidays. She blogs for Hotelopia.

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