Will you take the jump and ‘holiday local’ this year?

Planning a holiday? How much do you know about the impact of your plans? and how much do you want to know?

Recently I’ve been taking time to explore places nearer to home, in the realisation that in over 60 years there were countless places in the UK that I’d never visited. Until 2022, I’d only ever been to Scotland a handful of times and never beyond Glasgow. Our recent trips to the west and east coasts of Scotland have been a revelation, and I can’t recommend the highlands and islands highly enough.

A beach in Scotland

Northumbria, Norfolk, Dorset and Pembrokeshire have also featured in our family travels both by car and train over the years and there is much to see and do. And food across the British Isles has improved so much in the last 20 years, it’s hard to beat these days.

But the lure of foreign travel has always been irresistible and why shouldn’t it be? Going somewhere new and different, where the weather is more reliable, the food more interesting and the culture more colourful has become a normal part of the year for many Brits. No wonder we are reluctant to curb our behaviour or accept its consequences.

And the situation is complex – are cruises better or worse than flying? Is driving across Europe better than the fly/drive option? Are hotels better than airbnb’s and what’s the impact of investing in a whole load of camping gear that only gets used once a year? It can seem like a minefield.

To help in that respect, ‘Holiday Local’, one of Take the Jump’s six shifts to living life more in balance, advocates a measured approach to personal travel, based on well-researched evidence.

A sustainable amount of flying equates to

  • one short haul flight every three years (less than 1500km) and
  • one long haul flight every eight years
Holiday local

For someone like me who loves to explore new places but can’t bear to worsen the climate/biodiversity crisis, this is an approach that gives me hope, and allows me to visit loved ones across the sea every so often without feeling bad.

I can still see the world … but city breaks can be done by train rather than flying (so much more relaxing), and long overland journeys can be part of the experience, slowing down into the break rather than landing with a bump.

Playing a board game on a train

Rail travel across Europe is now generally cheaper than in the UK (only Norway, Austria and France are more expensive)1. And many countries including Spain and Germany have recently lowered their fares to make rail a more attractive alternative to flying.

The most comprehensive guide to rail and ferry travel on the web is The Man in Seat 61 – it opens up a whole new world of slow travel and removes all the frustrations and unknowns of navigating across borders (or even networks within the UK!) And if you’d rather not have the hassle of booking everything yourself there’s Railbookers who help you choose the most scenic routes and organise everything, including hotels.

Who needs the stress of flying anyway? Airport queues, pre-dawn starts, restricted luggage, expensive taxis/parking, cramped seats… I’d rather take a little bit longer and savour the journey.

For many, the idea that a cruise is better for the environment than flying can be an attractive concept. Sadly, moving across the water in an enormous floating hotel is about as damaging as a holiday gets – up to 12 times worse per night than staying in a hotel on dry land2. So best avoided if you’re looking for a holiday that respects the environment.

And with climate change regularly impacting familiar destinations like Greece, Spain and Portugal, holidays in the sun are becoming less and less reliable in terms of a relaxing experience. Recent wildfires, floods and extreme heatwaves across Europe have left many people wary of committing to a break abroad.

Wildfires in Greece

And why would you put yourself through all that hassle when there is so much to explore on our doorstep?

So we’re back to the UK – a land steeped in history, strung with rugged coastlines and beautiful beaches, layered with dramatic landscapes and hidden wildlife, and one of the world’s most sought after visitor destinations. I can’t wait to explore it more…

And when I get bored with that, there’s always France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland…

Vicky Wyer

Glenfinnan Viaduct Scotland
  1. Rail fares across Europe 2023
  2. Cruise ships hurt the environment, people and local communities