When school is out and the kids are home many parents are tempted to book the cheapest, easiest holiday possible. Unfortunately these “relaxing” holidays come with a higher price tag than just what is put on the credit card. Travel harms the environment in a number of ways, but there are methods of turning any holiday into an eco-friendly holiday. The next time you are tempted by foreign lands, make sure that you investigate an eco-friendly family holiday that will do you – and the Earth – some good.
Planning an Eco-Friendly Family Holiday
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is generally a phrase used in medical arenas, but it particularly suits eco-friendly travel as well. The more you can do to cut down on the harmful effects of tourism before you go is much better than trying to clean up after yourselves after. Consider:
- Recycling all of the tourism brochures and pamphlets you use to research you holiday options – or use the Internet to avoid any extra material waste.
- Purchasing fewer holiday clothes and products, and recycling all of the packaging before you ever get out your suitcase.
- Asking a travel agent to give you details about the sustainable holidays that they offer. If they look at you like you’ve got three heads, move along to another agent who can deliver a package that will benefit the local economy as well as protect local culture and customs.
- Making your accommodation decisions with a conscience. Try to find out who owns the accommodation, and thus who will be benefiting from your booking. Look for locally owned accommodation or co-op owned accommodation that will directly benefit the residents of your chosen holiday location.
- Making a booking with the most environmentally friendly accommodation possible. Investigate hotels, motels and camps that recycle, have a viable waste treatment facility and even use environmentally friendly means of energy.
- Reading up on local culture at the library or on the Internet, and investigating some basic phrases in your host language. Sensitivity to your host community’s traditions will keep everyone on the same page and limit the risk of misunderstandings. If you are going to a beach or planning to lounge around a pool, be sure to check on your host community’s feelings toward nude or semi-nude bathing.
Eco-Friendly Family Travel
Once you’ve researched and decided on an environmentally friendly family holiday, make sure these good thoughts become good deeds during your trip. Be sure to:
- Travel to your destination by train or car, which can save up to four times the amount of carbon emissions that are let off by air travel. Hiring an efficient or hybrid car at your destination, or travelling by boat or bike, will benefit the local environment as well.
- Purchasing credits to offset the carbon emissions that you have just sent into the atmosphere during your travels.
- Pack or purchase healthy, indigenous snacks rather than food that will require disposing of its packaging.
- Reduce the number of personal care items you use on your holiday, and reuse your linens throughout your stay. Having sheets and towels washed every day wastes a harmful amount of water per guest.
- Book your family on tours and activities that respect and protect the local community, wildlife and habitat. Before purchasing tickets, ask the operators how the proceeds will be spent.
- Buying souvenirs that are locally made and sold, and do not incorporate products from endangered species (animal skins or parts, animal shells, tortoise-shell, ivory or coral). Also, while haggling can be fun, remember that you might be arguing over money that is sorely needed by the local community. If you can spare it, please do.
- Fit in some volunteer work at your holiday destination. Contact local initiatives and see if they could use your family’s energy and enthusiasm.
For more information on sustainable tourism and eco-friendly family holidays, contact one of the many organisations dedicated to providing this kind of advice. Get in touch with:
- The Foreign Office.
- Tourism Concern.
- World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
- The Tourism and Environment Forum.
Any family holiday can become an eco-friendly family holiday with a little research and a lot of motivation. Don’t wait any longer – make your next family holiday an eco-friendly family holiday.