Sustainable UK holiday ideas for 2023
For the first time in history, the UK saw summer temperatures exceed 40 degrees. Smashing the previous record set in 2019 (which had smashed the previous record). This may have seemed like a freakish one-off to some people, but weather data proves the UK’s average temperature has been rising fast.
Globally, the world has experienced its eight warmest years on record during the past eight years. Whereas in the UK, all of the UK’s ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2002.
The continual rise in summer temperatures in the UK, along with chaos caused by the Covid pandemic, has had a noticeable impact on UK holidays.
Many people are choosing to stay at home in order to escape the airport chaos, or to lessen their impact on the environment.
However, it need not be a huge sacrifice in terms of holiday enjoyment. The UK is full of some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world, ancient history, and a number of stellar attractions. All of which can be enjoyed in a more sustainable way.
From caravan touring to cycling holidays, here are our top ideas for a more sustainable UK getaway:
An actual staycation
If you want to make your holiday truly low-impact, why not take a literal stay-at-home staycation?
The UK has some incredible places to visit and some of them could be right on your doorstep. It’s easy to overlook the options closest to your home. However, you may be surprised how much you miss when dashing around on your daily commute. Taking a pause and exploring areas nearby could not only surprise you, but they could deliver the perfectly relaxing experience.
To make the experience a proper holiday, plan some nice treats, and put down that DIY manual. Make an effort to visit that local restaurant you’ve always been telling yourself you will. It’s also worthwhile visiting local museums and attractions (it’s surprising how many people have never been to the ones in closest proximity).
Caravan touring holiday
If you still require a little luxury, and you love exploring, Touring caravans can represent a more sustainable holiday option. Research by The National Caravan Council suggests that emissions for a 1,000+ mile journey from London to the North of Scotland with a family of four in a small saloon car towing an appropriate caravan produces only 38% (0.36 tonnes) of the C0² output of a single similar distanced flight. This doesn’t even account for the carbon footprint of your travel to the airport, accommodation, plus the aviation and leisure infrastructure required to fly.
Sustainability levels also depend on a few other factors, such as how far you drive, what your caravan is constructed from, and how durable it is (i.e how long it lasts).
For example, Bailey of Bristol manufactures a great range of touring caravans and motorhomes. Their vehicles are made from 75% recyclable at end-of-life* materials, including FSC certified timber sourced from sustainable forests, water based solvent-free adhesives in the panel construction process, recycled composite plastic bodyshell panel framework extrusions and recyclable paper coated plywood furniture board. The caravans are insulated to a high spec, and many include a built in solar panel.
Caravan holidays tend to have a generally lower impact than many other types of holiday. Even if it’s raining, most of us have fond memories of doing a puzzle with a mug of soup, going on bracing walks, and the smell of toast in the morning. Enjoying the landscape is one thing, but it’s really about making the most of the simple things in life.
Airbnb or house swap
There are numerous websites now making it easier than ever to house swap, or rent rooms in someone else’s home.
This is a great option for those wishing to avoid huge concrete-heavy leisure industry hotels and attractions. It also means that you aren’t at the mercy of the still unpredictable UK weather since you’ll have a comfy home to go to at the end of a long day’s exploring.
What could be more fascinating than immersing yourself in a new place whilst living it like a local? You’ll also find most houses provide use of every-day items. Meaning you can save money by preparing your own lunches and dinners.
Camping or glamping
If you are prepared to sleep under canvas, then camping could be one of the lowest impact options available.
These days, camping doesn’t necessarily mean slumming it. There are increasing numbers of glamping sites popping up, where every creature-comfort will be taken care of. Proper beds, kitchens and even your own hot showers.
You could find yourself sitting next to a wood burning stove, waiting for the kettle to boil, whilst reading your favourite book. Bliss.
Try to choose sites that have an eco awareness, meaning that the construction materials are low impact or recycled, and your waste shower water doesn’t drain into the local chalk stream. Avoid sites that have gone over the top on non-durable plastic-fantastic products. Normally glamping destinations that appear in the style of The Only Way is Essex are ones to avoid.
Many of us have fantasised about embarking on a self-supported cycling tour of one of the UK’s many national parks. Unfortunately our lack of fitness (or expanding waistline in my case) makes the prospect extremely daunting.
However, if you haven’t experienced the joy of e-Bikes, I would highly recommend it. Imagine cycling over any terrain, fully loaded with your camping equipment and clothes, but only having to put in around 2% of the effort required on a normal bike.
e-Bikes make the countryside hugely more accessible for those not at professional cyclist levels of fitness. They also mean you can carry much more, enabling you to pack a few luxury items.
Remember to plan your journeys so that you have places to charge your bikes overnight. I’ve found that pubs are a good option!
Holiday sustainability choices
These are by no means the only (or most) sustainable holiday options. Furthermore, making more sustainable holiday choices doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go without. If you really must fly, try to take one long holiday instead of multiple short breaks each year.
Investing in a caravan or an e-Bike can be a wise long-term choice providing you make the most of them. Imagine how many flights you could avoid if you went on several caravan holidays each year. Or if you e-Biked to work instead of driving the car.
Every choice that represents a more sustainable option really will make a difference, especially if we all do it together.