From the off I should say, I fly, I drive a petrol guzzling car. I am in no way trying to lecture or shame anyone. But I can’t deny that one of my favourite things – actually travelling, or planning and reading about travelling – has been weighing on me lately.
According to the UN we have eleven years to change our habits enough to halt catastrophic levels of climate change. Climate change that would alter our world for ever and cause untold misery if not the end of life as we know it. Whilst this is terrifying, it does mean things we do now could stop total climate breakdown. We all have the power to make a positive difference.
I think those of us who are travel obsessed are in love with the world, which is why we want to explore more of it, and it’s very hard to acknowledge that travel could have any negatives. I have always wanted to share our ‘natural’ travels. My husband is wildlife obsessed, I love beautiful landscapes and our three year old is just wild! So much of what motivates us to travel is to see the amazing things in the world, it really breaks my heart to think we could be adding to species decline or climate breakdown by travelling.
The time has come for me, though, when I can no
longer plan my travel with cost and time as the only considerations, as well as
family friendliness of course. I need to start seriously considering the impact
of my travels on carbon emissions as well as the wider environment.
I am very much hoping that this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, that taking the train or looking for more sustainable accommodation will only lead to more and better adventures. I’ll be sure to share my journey here as information about eco family travel or sustainable family travel, whatever you want to call it (green family travel?!) is spread far and wide from what I can see. I would love to know if you’re interested in this too!
Having been involved in environmental causes both personally and on the fringes of my professional life for years now, I’ve seen conferences, international agreements, thousands of scientific articles come and go, all adding up to the fact that life as we know it will end, if we don’t do something about the rapidly increasing rise of global average temperatures. Yet nothing seemed to change in any real way.
More recently, I’ve actually felt more hope than I have for years. Greta Thunberg’s school climate strikes, Extinction Rebellion, the fact clean green technology seems to be getting better every year and the worldwide realisation that all those single use plastics we’ve been using and creating since the 1980s don’t go anywhere and are currently piling up or floating across our seas, means that I’ve been having more and more conversations about environmental issues than ever. Maybe I’m naive but I do think that more and more people are trying to make positive choices for the planet.
At the same time though, I think it is very easy to be terrified of climate change as an abstract concept, but it is hard to know how to make a positive difference personally. When it comes to holidays and travel it can be difficult to see there are any positive choices though. I’m sure I can’t be the only person that has booked a flight while feeling incredibly guilty but also thinking – ‘the plane’s going anyway’, and ‘I really want to go’. I also think for many of us travel and holidays are things we save up for and really value as opportunities to spend much needed time with loved ones, relaxation from the work and the day-to-day routines, and opportunities to learn about other cultures and connect across borders which in these times seem more crucial than ever.
So I want to start sharing what I am doing to travel and explore this wonderful world, whilst being mindful of the impact I’m having. I’m not going to swear I’m never going to fly again, I’m flying in September to Greece, although that will be my only flight this year. I will share my research and planning and hopefully give some ideas of ways to still have amazing travel adventures whilst limited the impact on the earth.