Come fly with me?

It’s still dark at 7 in the morning and winter has yet to swing into spring, but many of us are already planning our summer holidays. The challenge as ever is how to have a great vacation without costing the earth. Over the past few weeks I have been asked questions about whether we should be flying at all; where we should stay and how do we know whether what we are eating on holiday has been sustainably produced. So here is my short guide to having a great summer with a clear conscience.

1) Remember we have a beautiful country.

The UK may be small but it punches far above its weight. If you include all the main islands (Isle of White, Northern Ireland etc) it has 31,368km of coast-that’s nearly five times more coastline than Brazil and nearly as much as Australia’s mainland!! And a holiday in the UK avoids air travel and cuts carbon.

2) There are some very sustainable destinations.

Travel to Costa Rica for example and you travel to a safe country, with the highest diversity of wildlife per kilometre anywhere on the planet. It is filled with ethically -minded people, many who run small, independent and very sustainable hostels and lodges. If you don’t fancy the rainforest; then why not try the tundra of Estonia? Another country with a fab record for nature and holidays.

3) If you have to fly or cruise, you can offset your carbon.

There are multiple ways of ensuring you account for the carbon you are responsible for whilst travelling. For example, has a carbon calculator. Put your miles in and it will tell you how much money your travel is costing the planet.

4) Eat locally.

I have a policy of avoiding all restaurant chains when abroad and focus on local restaurants and cafes that have a good reputation (and source their food from the local area). Why travel abroad to eat imported fish and chips, when you can try out fantastic local dishes?

5) Sleep locally.

We should avoid package holiday that use big international hotel chains. Large hotels have often been built on previously important wildlife sites. Staff salaries are often poor and the food sourcing is often problematic. Instead aim for a hotel or hostel that is locally run, with local food and a proven track record on energy conservation. Sites like and Trip Advisor can give clear steer on whether an establishment is environmentally friendly.

Above all remember that where ever you travel this year; you are an ambassador for Britain and for our planet. If we tread lightly by offsetting, avoiding unnecessary journeys and focussing on local food and local hotels-we are doing our bit to support ethically sound businesses and can holiday with a clearer conscience.