According to National Geographic, transport is the most significant way of reducing carbon emissions. Around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions come from commercial flights. And while tourism can bring in money and businesses, it can also have negative impacts on local communities if not managed properly.
Want to travel and holiday in a way that has less of a negative impact on local communities and the planet? We’ve asked our community of co-workers to share their experiences and top tips. We’ve also featured some of our customers who are leading the way in the green tourism space.
From Bristol to Seville: Kate, information security officer, and Dave, data manager
The furthest Dave and I have been by train is to Seville, Spain from Bristol, United Kingdom. We took the train up to London, the Eurostar to Paris, an overnight sleeper train to Madrid, and then the AVE high-speed train to Seville. It took around 24 hours in total. Watching the sun set as we glided across France and the frankly amazing AVE high-speed trains across Spain made it a truly unforgettable experience.
Responsible tourism: Mel, senior ICT support
Sometimes it’s not possible to go flight-free, however, you can still travel in more responsible ways. I always use Gadventures to book my trips. Every place they offer a tour they have set up something within that local community to help them in some way. For example, in Peru I did the Lares hike to Machu Picchu and on the hike we were taken to a village that the Planeterra Foundation, their sister charity, had helped to rebuild after the original was destroyed by a landslide. They bring the hikers here to learn about the local village life, see how they use Alpaca and Llama wool to make products and can also buy them (pumping money back to the locals).
I also travelled with them through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. In Cambodia they opened a school in the village so that women who had experienced abuse, and their children, could learn skills to help find employment and their kids could also go to this school for free. One of my favourite trips was in Nepal where they are funding a company who help get women out of human trafficking.
As you can see they do amazing things all over the planet! Not only that but every tour I have joined has been a life changing experience and I have made my closest friends to this day.
The benefits of slow travel: Matthias, content & community manager Triodos Bank head office
My holiday starts when I leave the house – the trip to the destination is part of my holiday. When planning my travels I think to myself ‘where do I feel relaxed and away from it all?’. The more intensely I can experience where I am the better.
What I have discovered for myself is that the sustainable choices are usually the “slower” choices as well. And “slow” is just what I personally need in my vacation. I will not be able to see the whole world anyway in my lifetime – so I concentrate on experiencing the parts I can see more. Quality over quantity. For me that usually involves a lot of walking and hiking and meeting people.
Most of all it helps my mind to slow down as well. Aside from my CO2 footprint and socially responsible travel choices, there's also a personal wellbeing choice: how do I treat myself? Staying away from rushing anywhere, having to see everything, feeling nature and my surroundings does that for me. It is like a meditation. I am in the here and now. Bliss.
Supporting staycations: Alice, marketing manager
While I do love exploring the world and experiencing new cultures, it's really important to not overlook the treasures you already have close by! The flight-free movement is fantastic and it's really important that this is a conversation that is being had, but we do have to recognise that it can be an expensive and time-consuming option. From camping in Dartmoor to long walks in the Lake District, I've really enjoyed seeing more of the UK in the past few years and would encourage anyone to try and consider a more local area that you've never explored before.
Sleeper trains with the whole family: Chris,change delivery manager
In 2019 we planned a family holiday to the South of France and we travelled to our apartment all the way from Wiltshire by train – we were determined to prove it could be done without flying.
After catching the train up to London St Pancras, we headed out on the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, and then travelled across the city and caught the overnight sleeper train from Paris Austerlitz down to Toulouse. Having hired five beds, we thought we’d get the 6-person cabin all to ourselves – but were rather surprised to find another passenger snoozing in one of the bottom bunks!
He had to endure all five of us clambering into the cabin with our luggage, poor chap! After a somewhat disruptive night’s sleep we got to Toulouse at 6am, and from there it was a quick change for the final train leg to Narbonne. For the return leg we caught the TGV back to Paris from Montpellier, which whizzed all the way up the country in around three hours. It was definitely a fun adventure and shows that you can travel long distances without flying – I would just recommend next time, to book the whole cabin out for yourselves!
Interrailing is not just for young folk! Neil, head of credit risk
We’re celebrating my wife’s 60th birthday this summer with a 17-day interrailing trip down to Bosnia and Herzegovina as an alternative to flying – we’re not your typical interrailers!
Triodos are proud to support organisations within the green tourism sector, here's just a few:
Trees for Life in Glenmoriston, Scotland
In 2021, our crowdfunding customers raised £2 million in less than 48 hours to support charity Trees for Life in the creation of The Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, which is now officially open to the public. The visitors centre offers a gateway to the UK’s biggest rewilding landscape, the Affric Highlands. It’s an attraction aimed at people from all walks of life, while boosting jobs and supporting re-peopling of this remote rural area. Trees for Life also offer volunteering weeks where you can help rewild the Scottish Highlands – a great alternative holiday option.
Bargoed Farm in Aberareron, Wales
Set in the heart of the scenic Ceredigion countryside in West Wales, Bargoed Farm is a family-run camping and caravan park, offering a secluded retreat all year round. A loan from Triodos supports the Farm’s ambition to go off-grid by funding new solar panels and battery storage. This will allow Bargoed Farm to source (and store) the majority of its power from renewable energy.
Triodos has been supporting natural insect repellent company, Incognito, for more than a decade - and they are a must-have for travelling to any mosquito hotspots. They also have a natural, nano-free, reef-friendly suncream. All products are manufactured in the UK, many of the ingredients used are certified organic and the rest are completely natural.
Mazzard Farm in Devon, England
Ruud and Jacqueline operate award-winning self-catering holiday cottages at Mazzard Farm in Devon. Old farm buildings have been converted into six sustainable and luxurious cottages. Their 17 acre site includes a beautiful woodland, fields, orchards, a children's play-area, and cobbled courtyard. Triodos helped finance a new biomass boiler at the property in 2014, and then provided further lending in 2020. They recently won Gold in the South West Tourism awards for their commitment to ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism.
HumanForest in London, England
Not a holiday destination as such, but HumanForest are a great sustainable way to get around London. The e-bike operator are an affordable and environmentaly responsible option for travelling around the capital, and funding from Triodos has enabled them to double their fleet of bikes.