The travel business is, quite rightly, becoming more and more eco-friendly with hotels, resorts and even airlines around the world jumping on the green initiatives bandwagon. And it is now surprisingly easy to make a few small changes to your choices so your footprint – and your conscience – is considerably lighter. For example, being a more responsible traveller doesn’t mean not flying at all – but it may mean flying less, something that also makes economic sense nowadays with those ever-increasing fuel supplements. Train travel isn’t cheap either, but it’s greener than flying and can actually be a lot of fun with children. Now that Eurostar departs from St Pancras, the improved connections to Europe present a real alternative to flying if your destination is anywhere in France, Belgium, or even as far south as Italy.
But whether it’s by train, plane or automobile, you can check out the eco-credentials of each method of transportation for your journey, or even opt for a fully eco-friendly tour, at www.responsibletravel.co.uk. Founded in 2001 by former Body Shop employee Justin Francis, and partly funded by the late Dame Anita Roddick, this online travel agency is today one of the most successful and fastest-growing independent travel agencies in the UK. While it doesn’t package its own holidays, Responsible Travel does sell other company’s holidays, allowing you to compare different products and learn how each holiday could make a difference.
Over 120 countries are featured, with accommodation ranging from luxury hotels to rainforest lodges.
Of course, you can also create your own package deal close to home: why not load bikes onto the car, nip across the Channel and try a short-haul holiday to somewhere like Brittany? It has superb beaches, rocky coves for shrimping expeditions, organic markets and fish supplied by local fishermen, which also puts money back into the local economy. Brittany Travel has almost 200 villas and cottages to choose from,
most of them are on the coast, and French-owned, so usually in the best locations.
Even closer to home, there is a range of eco-friendly accommodation to explore, from tipis to tree houses.
Another thing to look for when booking travel is tour operators who support the Fairtrade movement. One of its strongest advocates is Tribes, which specialises in small group travel and offers several family tours worldwide. The company uses ethical supply chains, ensuring it pays local producers fairly and works closely with the surrounding communities. Indigenous guides are used wherever possible and tour groups are kept to less than 12 people to minimise the impact on the local community and environment. African travel specialist Bushbaby Travel donates five percent of its profits to charities in South Africa – such as Nazareth House for HIV-infected children, and The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund – and provides details about these projects. All of the Bushbaby Travel programmes are tailor-made for families with young children.
Of course, a holiday for the family needs to offer fun and adventures that inspire, as well as offering some R&R for parents – but travelling green can help make the experience even more of an adventure.