Sustainable Christmas travel is probably not top of your list this year. Perhaps you would quite like to jet off to a German Christmas market. Or maybe you long to venture further afield. We all long for winter sun! Once the days start to darken, we start wanting a change of scene.
But hopping on a plane to cure the seasonal slump creates damaging emissions. And with widespread inflation, foreign holidays are a stretch for many people. Fortunately, eco-friendly getaways do exist. Relaxing retreats, staying local, and exploring nature are greener, cheaper alternatives.
Below, we share our favourite sustainable Christmas travel ideas. With our tips, you can satisfy your wanderlust without harming the planet.
However, many of us travel across the UK to be with loved ones over the festive period. So, we have added tips on staying safe and sustainable on your journey — even with the strikes.
Stay local, stay green: the power of staycations
2021 was the year of the “staycation“. On the other hand, 2022 has seen foreign travel resume. But, staycations are definitely more sustainable! The UK is peppered with interesting cities and landscapes. There is so much to see right here at home. So, we would recommend bringing back the staycation this winter (and beyond).
If your idea of a festive holiday features mulled wine, twinkly lights, and pottering around Yule markets, you could try Brighton. The Royal Pavilion ice rink runs entirely on green energy.
Or if you want to experience theatre, culture, and music, we recommend Edinburgh’s Winter Festival. It starts in late November and runs until Hogmanay (Scotland’s New Year celebration). Meanwhile, Lincoln, Canterbury, or Stratford-upon-Avon provide quieter historical backdrops for city breaks.
Finally, if you want a white Christmas, head to the small town of Princetown. Apparently, it receives the most snow in southern England. Take care, however. The town inspired Sherlock Holmes’s brush with the Hound of the Baskervilles!
For more sustainable Christmas travel, turn to nature
Humans have observed the changing seasons for centuries. Although winter is a time of darkness, it leads to the renewal of spring. Spending time in nature shows us that slowing down is natural. Animals hibernating remind us that we could stop for a bit, too.
Nature tourism is a broad spectrum. You could visit dramatic UK locations. The Yorkshire Dales, Peak District, and Snowdonia, are some of the best. Naturally, we suggest opting for sustainable accommodation.
But you can also enjoy the landscape closer to your home. Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside app is a great resource for exploring. You can find places, routes, and wildlife events local to you.
Some people even enjoy the UK’s beaches, lakes and rivers over the winter. A few even take a cold water dip on Christmas Day! But if outdoor swimming is not for you, you can still bathe in a forest. Swimsuits are not required for forest bathing. Instead, you wrap up warm and immerse yourself in the sounds, sights, and smells of nature.
Different from hiking, forest bathing is a walking meditation. Wandering slowly through a woodland is an inspiring experience.
Retreat, restore, and renew this season
Burnout is a common problem in winter. As the nights lengthen, our working days drag. And although the holidays bring celebration, festivities can tire us out too.
If Christmas is over-stimulating, or a drain, you could choose a sustainable retreat or spa break. There is no shortage of UK-based wellness holidays. These span everything from yoga to silent retreats, from aromatherapy to singing. You can even go to writing or art workshops, life coaching sessions, and more.
If a restoring getaway is beyond your budget, consider joining a group. Book clubs, life drawing classes, knitting circles, and archeological digs are a few examples from Meetup.
Make smart, sustainable Christmas travel plans
If you intend to visit loved ones this winter, please make careful arrangements. There have been several strikes on the UK rail network of late. So, it is important to plan ahead — especially if you want to use sustainable transport, which we hope you do.
Green travel means going on foot, by bike, bus, coach, rail, or car sharing. It is worth running through this list when weighing up Christmas travel options. Liftshare is a popular ride sharing platform. The organisation has strong a commitment to sustainability.
If rail travel is your preference, why not reserve tickets while also planning alternatives? Strikes are yet to be confirmed for December, although they look likely. However, companies usually allow refunds when there are strikes. So, a sustainable back up plan is a good safety net.
Green winters are better for us
We all dream of a white Christmas. Really, though, we should focus on a greener festive period. With climate change continuing, snow is less likely every year. We need to act now, and act sustainably, to secure our future.
Whether you choose a staycation, nature holiday, restorative retreat, or just use public transport to travel, you should know that your decisions will make a difference this Christmas.
If you are swapping a costly, carbon heavy holiday for a better alternative, why not spread the word? You can share our sustainable travel ideas by clicking the icons below.