Can UK Holidays Be Better?

Image of Westminster Bridge and Big Ben in London
Anna Stacey

Like last year, this summer is proving uncertain for international holidays. But can UK trips be just as good, and even better for the planet?

When going abroad, the most time effective mode of transport is usually by plane. You’d probably expect flights and cruises to have higher greenhouse gas emissions than trains or buses, but did you know that the aviation industry is responsible for 2% of all global carbon emissions? To reduce emissions, train and bus transport on shorter routes seems like the answer, and therefore UK-based travel is the way to go.

Although a British summer doesn’t necessarily guarantee good weather, your travel opportunities are not all rainy campsites. In fact, the UK is home to many beauty spots and tourist destinations which are not all so different to popular places abroad. Here are some travel swaps to get you inspired:

Adventures in Wales instead of New Zealand:

New Zealand is often considered the place to go for thrill seeking adventurers. However, you needn’t spend 24 hours on a plane, as Zip World Penrhyn Quarry in Wales is not only home to the largest zipline in Europe but it is also the fastest in the world. At 1.5km, Velocity 2 spans over Penrhyn Quarry Lake and those brave enough to have a go could reach 100mph as they fly along. If you fancy another challenge, the site also has the UK’s first mountain cart track!

With the pale sandy beaches, palm trees and shallow clear water, these islands aren’t so different to the Balearics

The Isles of Scilly instead of the Balearic Islands:

If you would rather have a more laidback and slow-paced holiday, the island life in the Isles of Scilly could be for you. With the pale sandy beaches, palm trees and shallow clear water, these islands aren’t so different to the Balearics. The Isles of Scilly have the highest mean annual temperature in the UK, so could be a safe bet if you’re hoping for some sunbathing. A trip to The Tresco Island Spa where you can get a variety of treatments will add a touch of luxury to your stay.  

London instead of New York:

An economy return flight from London to New York emits about 0.67 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, which is the same amount that one person living in Ghana would emit for an entire year. In contrast, a train journey to London from Nottingham would emit a far lower amount of CO2. If you want to experience big city life, a weekend break in London could be the ticket. For this trip, swap Broadway for the West End, the Empire State building for the Shard and the Met for the National Gallery.

Skiing in Scotland rather than Switzerland:

For a winter getaway, why not try skiing in Scotland? There are seven different snow sport centres in Scotland which cater for a range of experience levels and there’s no need to book far in advance. As well as being a shorter journey and therefore better for the environment, skiing in Scotland will also be better for your wallet. A day ticket at Parsenn in Switzerland is an eye watering CHF 52 (about £40), whereas a student day ticket at Glencoe Mountain Resort is a far smaller £20.

The UK has a range of fascinating sites to explore

UK Interrailing instead of European Interrailing:

For rail journeys, 41g of CO2 emissions are emitted per person per km. A trip across Europe from Paris to Athens is 2946km, while a journey across the UK from Penzance to Aberdeen is a significantly shorter 687km, meaning that a UK backpacking trip would have a lot lower impact on your carbon footprint. The UK has a unique range of fascinating sites to explore. A route from South to North could see stops at the Eden Project, the Roman Baths, Oxford or Cambridge University, Warwick Castle, Chatsworth House, Lindisfarne and Calton Hill.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

Anna Stacey

Featured image courtesy of Eva Dang via Unsplash . Image license found here. No changes were made to the image.

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