As lockdown restrictions ease, many of us are dreaming of and planning a much-needed summer getaway. But with rules* around taking trips abroad still in place, we’re delighted to see the Great British Holiday being championed to keep us safe, boost the local economy and reduce our impact on the environment for a green recovery.
Flying is one of the most carbon-intensive choices you can make so let’s use this opportunity to rethink our travel habits and make holidaying at home the new normal. In this blog, we’ve shared some of our Community Champions’ top staycation recommendations and tips to inspire you to “get on board”!
*Please check the latest government advice before travelling
“My top recommendation for a staycation would be Cornwall, particularly St Ives. Using a low carbon mode, I would also suggest getting the Eurostar to Belgium and Amsterdam!”
“My tip would be reading psychogeographers like Iain Sinclair who can illuminate the wonders of urban exploration and walking. Will Self is another good one.... also Robert McFarlane.”
"On a professional note, I currently work as content and comms manager for the Flanders tourist board (the northern Dutch speaking part of Belgium), so it would be amiss for me to not mention that. The area includes the cities of Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and is very easy to reach by the Eurostar train within three hours or so from London (so quicker than taking the train to Scotland for example). Find out more
On a personal note, my favourite trip is usually one that involves the sleeper train from London to Scotland, where you can leave London in the evening and wake up the following morning with views of the Highlands from the train window. Find out more
“I'm sure lots of people already know about this one (in fact I heard about it from a fellow Community Champion!) but I think the list of Time Out Country Walks is great for finding countryside day trips just a short train ride from London.
If you're into cycling but want to keep off the roads then there are some fantastic routes, some of which follow old railway lines. I'd recommend the Phoenix Trail (and the rest of The Ridgeway, an ancient and really lovely path) and the Tarka Trail as well as the Pennine Way
Something really fun is to plan a 'Round the World Staycation'. The idea is to get a flavour of other parts of the world while staying local. So for example you could go climbing some nearby hills, then have a fondue in the evening, for an Alpine Day. Then the next day you could paddle in a Canadian canoe, or visit a British vineyard in place of a French one. In this way you can travel right round the world without a single flight. If you're really keen, you can even calculate the carbon you've saved by not flying to those places!”
“Hen do in Bath with spa day and rooftop pool! Just a short train journey from Paddington.”
“My favourite places for a holiday close to home are:
York - the railway museum is excellent, you can also find the best fish and chips (Drake's) and Bettys is also a must-visit (amazing breakfast and afternoon tea with fantastic service). Also I love just pottering around the narrow streets with quaint buildings.
St Ives in Cornwall - I've only been once but absolutely loved it. Beautiful beaches in the summer and they have a good art scene too
Glamping in East Sussex (near Bodiam Castle) - beautiful scenery and we stayed in this really nice hut that had excellent amenities.”
“I have to say that this is a topic I have been thinking about a lot within the last year, as I am trying to cut down on flying myself. I was a bit apprehensive at first because I thought no flying means that I would be limited to the UK but was very pleasantly surprised to see that thanks to the Eurostar, it's possible to reach many destinations a lot quicker than I thought.
For city breaks, there is obviously Paris, which can be reached in less than 2.5 hours from London but also many more direct routes that I wasn't aware of. I've been to Lille at the end of last year, which is only 1.5 hours away and which has a very pretty old town. There is also Brussels (2 hours) and I think a direct route to Amsterdam has been added this year. I was also surprised to see that you can get to Cologne from London in just 4 hours.
For my summer holidays, there is a direct Eurostar to Avignon in the summer months which is only 6 hours from London but other destinations are also available when changing in Paris (which also don't take a lot longer thanks to the fast TGV network in France). I'm thinking about doing my next winter holiday in France by train.
These are just a few options but I think my main take away from my research was that it's a lot quicker to get to places by train than I thought (especially if you live in London and have access to the Eurostar). Yes, it still takes longer than flying, but if you factor in how long it takes to get to the airport and how much time you spend there waiting, it might actually be not that much longer after all. And yes, it might be more expensive than low-cost airlines, but if you book in advance and look out for offers, you can get tickets starting from £29.
How can you reduce your holiday footprint?
Although holidays abroad are currently not an option for many people, research has found that Britons fly abroad more than any other nation.
But with many of us appreciating nature on our doorsteps and looking towards a better future, now is the time to change our ways and adopt more planet-friendly travel habits. Community Champion Paul explores this topic in his blog and discusses the personal guilt people feel about the environmental impact of flying, known as ‘flygskam’.