The pandemic scuppered our travel plans for two years but as countries open up and as trips resume Helen Coffey asks how sustainable you are when it comes to getting around?
How many holiday trips would you normally take in a year?
A. None or one; I usually take one trip every year or every other year
B. Two; maybe a summer beach holiday and a long weekend in autumn or winter
C. Three to four; I tend to take a couple of city breaks, a longer summer holiday and a winter-sports trip
D. Who can say? I travel so much it would be easier to list the times I’m not on holiday!
Where do you go on holiday?
A. Nearly always domestic. There’s so much to discover right here in the UK
B. Either domestic or short-haul; I love exploring central and western Europe
C. A mixture of short-haul and medium-haul destinations, with a long-haul trip thrown in every few years
D. My travel is often long-haul – I’m keen to tick off far-flung destinations all over the world
How do you get there?
A. If it’s not too ambitious I cycle to my destination. Otherwise I use public transport – trains and buses – wherever possible
B. I take the train as much as I can, especially for destinations in the UK or western Europe, and sometimes drive
C. I usually drive if it’s in the UK. If it’s abroad I catch a flight
D. I nearly always fly as it’s the cheapest option and the only way to reach the faraway places I love to visit
If you fly, do you offset?
A. I almost never fly
B. If I have to fly yes – but only with a robust offsetting scheme that I have researched and trust. I prioritise schemes that focus on carbon removal rather than reduction
C. I sometimes use the airline’s own scheme when I’m flying – you tick a box and it adds on a few pounds to offset your flight
D. Not really. I heard that offsetting schemes aren’t trustworthy, so there doesn’t seem much point
How long do you stay on holiday in a long-haul destination?
A. I wouldn’t normally go anywhere long-haul. If I did, I’d try to stay for three weeks, if not longer
B. A fortnight
C. A week to ten days
D. It depends. I’ve sometimes spent a weekend in a long-haul location when I’m short on time
Where would you normally stay?
A. I like local homestays, so that the money from my visit goes directly to the people who live there
B. Smaller hotels or apartments that are locally owned
C. In an Airbnb or hotel depending on where I’m going. I tend to go with whatever’s cheapest
D. Luxury international hotel brands that I trust – the more bling, the better
Which kind of holidays do you prefer?
A. A remote getaway that immerses you in nature and local culture, booked via a responsible operator that cares about travellers’ carbon footprints
B. A laid-back beach holiday somewhere chilled or discovering a lesser-known second or third city
C. A jam-packed city break at one of the world’s most iconic destinations: New York, Barcelona, Amsterdam
D. I’m a big fan of cruising – I like to board a huge luxury ship and set sail for pastures new
What do you do when you get to your destination?
A. I like taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide to give me a sense of place
B. I like exploring and trying to find under-the-radar spots to eat and drink
C. I like hitting up the best-rated attractions online: the Eiffel Tower, Dubrovnik Old Town, St Marco in Venice
D. I like shopping, especially for the international brands I know from home. I’m wary of the unfamiliar
Do you travel abroad for work?
A. Only if it’s unavoidable – I try to conduct all my meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams
B. Rarely, and I try to use public transport to get there if possible
C. Sometimes; we’re doing more videoconferencing now, but I attend one or two in-person events a year, usually via a short-haul flight
D. Often – it’s a perk of the job, so I volunteer to travel as much as possible
What's most important to you when planning a trip?
A. Whether or not it has a net-positive impact on the place I’m visiting
B. That I get to experience authentic culture and interactions while I’m there
C. A balance of price and destination
D. That wherever I go looks good in my Instagram snaps and inspires others!
You are a true climate-change hero when it comes to your travel habits – you think carefully about your destination and how you’ll get there and about the impact you’ll have during your stay. Bravo! If getting on a plane is already a rare occurrence, consider the next step; sign up to the Flight-Free UK 2022 pledge, which encourages people to give up flying for a year at flightfree.co.uk
You’re already thinking harder than most about your holiday choices, minimising how much you fly and attempting to get off the beaten track to avoid contributing to over-tourism. You might consider transitioning from the “leave nothing but footprints” ethos to creating an even more positive impact by booking your trips though travel companies that keep as much money in the local economy as possible; try Much Better Adventures, Intrepid and Pura Aventura.
You love a cheap and cheerful break so you can travel as much as possible, checking off the biggest-hitting destinations, cities and sights. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see the most popular tourist spots – but consider how to have less of an impact when you do. If it’s a European capital, splurge a little more on travelling by train, taking in the views – and slashing your carbon footprint in the process. Plan your trip off-season – there are fewer crowds – and throw a few less well-known attractions into your itinerary.
You’re a travel-mad lover of luxury, keen to see the world. It’s great to have such passion but a few simple swaps could make your trips more sustainable. Reducing the number of long-haul flights you take in a year will massively reduce your emissions. And consider staying longer if you do travel across the globe. If you love cruising, why not choose a smaller river or expedition cruise; avoid itineraries that cover at ports already struggling with over-tourism such as Venice and Dubrovnik.
Travel writer Helen Coffey is the author of Zero Altitude: How I Learned to Fly Less and Travel More, published by Flint Books for £16.99: ISBN 978-0750995726.
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