Holidaying in the UK instead of overseas

Last updated Wednesday 30 April 2008

Getting away from it all needn't be a guilt trip

The UK can't be such a bad place for a holiday - after all, it attracts around 32 million overseas visitors every year. But is it a tempting enough proposition to make us give up our own high-emission foreign hols?

Overseas travel, consumer surveys routinely report, ranks alongside such pleasures as moving house, changing bank account and passing a kidney stone as a source of stress and anxiety. Yet despite this, the environmental impact of flying, and the fact that many of us think Britain is becoming a better place to spend holidays, millions of us would still rather go abroad. In fact more Brits have been to Barcelona than Bath.

So what will it take to persuade us to look closer to home?

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Photo: Holidaying in the UK instead of overseas

305kg of CO2 (by car) or 435kg of CO2 (by train)

789 Bloomers are doing this

CO2 reduction 2 out of 5

Cheapness 2 out of 5

Popularity 5 out of 5

Cost 45 (car) - 108 (train)

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In this article:

How will it make a difference?

Pub Fact

  • The average income of people using Stansted Airport is 47,000
  • In 2006, Dublin and Edinburgh were in the top five plane journeys taken by Brits
  • One in three people say they'd be willing to switch a holiday to avoid flying, but only one in 25 put their holiday money where their mouth is and actually do it
  • In 2003, spending by domestic tourists accounted for four-fifths of the UK's 74 billion tourism earnings
  • 18% of people would rather become a vegetarian than miss holidays by plane
  • 15% of England is covered by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • UK residents made 69.5 million visits abroad in 2006, with 45.3 million of these being for a holiday

Holidaying at home cuts out the emissions from flying, but your exact savings largely depend on how you get around instead (see What's the debate? below).

Making a return trip from Cardiff to the Lake District instead of Malaga will save about:

The train fare to Lake Windermere is 108, around 35 more than a flight to Malaga. Driving to Windermere would cost about 45 in petrol.

For another comparison, taking the train and slow ferry from London to Dublin produces 85kg less CO2 emissions than flying there. At around 50, the combined train and ferry costs are similar to a flight, and the journey takes roughly an hour and a half longer than flying.

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What's the debate?

Accommodation, food and activities can actually be more expensive here than abroad - especially when compared with cheap package deals to Europe - and public transport is expensive too. So people often take the car, which can save money but eats into your emissions savings.

Filling the car or lift sharing makes road travel more CO2 efficient by splitting the emissions between several people. Meanwhile, you could find a petition for cheaper public transport on the government's website.

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What's stopping me?

"But the plane still goes whether I'm on it or not"

Flight scheduling works by supply and demand. Demand is at an all-time high and increasing the number of scheduled flights. This can be reduced by consumer choice.

"What about our 'great' British weather? I don't want to sit and watch the rain for a week"

Research suggests that we are indeed put off holidaying in the UK by the risk of bad weather, but that during heat waves and hotter summers Brits book fewer foreign holidays.

As climate change progresses over the next 60 years, popular tourist spots such as Spain's Costa-del-Sol may become too hot for us and it's predicted we'll take more holidays at home. This could revive traditional British holiday spots like Blackpool and Brighton.

"If people fly less, won't the British economy suffer?"

It is, in that time-worn phrase, a case of swings and roundabouts: money not spent on flights - as in periods immediately following terrorist attacks - tends to be balanced, or even outweighed, by an increase in domestic spending. In fact, the majority (four fifths) of the UK's 74 billion tourism industry comes from UK, not foreign tourists.

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How do I do it?

  • If you've opted for a UK holiday, remember: taking public transport saves more CO2 than going by car
  • Save up to 60% on fares: book in advance, travel off-peak and get a young persons, student or family rail card
  • Check routes, ticket prices and CO2 emissions at Transport Direct
  • Sustrans can advise on low emission travel in the UK
  • Take slower ferries that mix passengers, cars and freight instead of fast passenger ferries that can use up to five times more fuel and can produce as much CO2 as planes
  • If you do drive, take fewer, fuller cars
  • Stuck for ideas on domestic delights? Check our list of holiday ideas (see below)

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Holiday ideas

Where to go?

Regional BBC holiday links

City breaks

Go by train

Stay in a castle

Adventure sports

Festivals

Low impact holidays

Outdoor escapes

Beach getaways

Views of Britain

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Comments

Anonymous 2009-02-20

Flying is one of the big polluters that each of us can directly control, but taking a staycation in the UK can also save money. If you compare a 4 star holiday in the UK against a 4 star holiday in Majorca, for a family of 4, you could save 1,500+ and a tonne of CO2 and it helps the UK economy. My blog has more info like this is you're interested in more green ideas for saving money or green shopping. www.freegreenmarket.com

Hungerford89, Flintshire 2009-01-21

Holidays/ short breaks in UK over the past few years - all self-catering: Isle of Mull (once as couple, twice with young family)

Tina, Manchester 2008-10-21

I have not been abroad for the last two years but I've just had a wonderful week in Dartmoor in a 15th Century thatched cottage. We visited some of the most beautiful villages in England and enjoyed it more than many holidays abroad. Plus you can take as much luggage as you want with you!!

Reggie, Taunton 2008-10-05

It's just a shame that there's not more for a single person to do in this country in the evening - when you go abroad many museums and shops and facilities are open much later. Take a radio so you can listen to Mark Radcliffe when you get stuck in your B

Mikemock, Stokeinteignhead, Devon 2008-10-02

My wife and I run a small holiday cottage business where walking, fresh air and fun are at the heart of reducing CO2 emmissions.
Take your bike on the train and be here in no time. The devon hills will definitely keep you fit. Our nest is built from straw, mud and horse poo, as they all were back in the day...
So I suggest there's no contest, stay closer to home and get snug with your love and enjoy a piece of Devon this Christmas and New Year, in The Nest.

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Glossary terms used on this page
CO2
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is made up of the elements carbon and oxygen. It exists quite naturally in our atmosphere, as part of the carbon cycle. Everyday processes in the plant and animal world both add CO2 to the atmosphere and take it out. However, because it is a greenhouse gas - meaning it affects the temperature of the earth - the exact level of CO2 is important. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, hence the anxiety that extensive use of these fuels is causing climate change.
Car pooling
Car pooling - or lift sharing - is a way of reducing CO2 emissions from private transport, especially commuter travel, by sharing journeys. It can be arranged informally among friends and colleagues or, increasingly, through dedicated websites. Its aim is to have fewer cars on the road with more people in each.
Climate change
Climate change is the variation in the average global or regional climate as measured by yardsticks such as average temperature and rainfall. This variation is caused by both natural processes and human activity. Weather is what happens over days or even hours, whereas climate is the average weather measured over a longer period. Increasingly when people refer to climate change, however, they specifically mean the phenomenon of global warming.
Emissions
Emissions are the CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) produced by energy use, usually calculated and stated as an annual tally: also referred to as your carbon footprint. Your personal emissions can be direct - such as the gas you personally use to heat your home or the petrol you burn to power your car - or indirect - meaning the energy use that has gone into the products or services you buy. The latter, such as the emissions caused by the manufacture of your new TV, or the packaging your food comes in, are also referred to as embodied emissions.
Emissions
Emissions are the CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) produced by energy use, usually calculated and stated as an annual tally: also referred to as your carbon footprint. Your personal emissions can be direct - such as the gas you personally use to heat your home or the petrol you burn to power your car - or indirect - meaning the energy use that has gone into the products or services you buy. The latter, such as the emissions caused by the manufacture of your new TV, or the packaging your food comes in, are also referred to as embodied emissions.

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