The holiday rush is in its inauguration month. Junctions along the M25 are already constricted, the start of the holiday begins along the sweltering heat of tarmac with a barely moving queue inching its way along each junction. The holiday debut signified by the stench of fumes from car exhausts. Passing fields, lakes, and countryside beaches, the only thing on everyone’s mind is the landscapes of far-flung places. You know that by the end of this day, you’ll be somewhere else. Some of these people you’ll see again, queuing in the resort reception, languishing on towels neatly positioned between thousands of bodies beside the breaking waves. That is, after the bags have been packed to airline specifications and your tiny tubes of liquids are sealed in their little see-through plastic carrier. The long queue in the security line, only to realise your liquid deodorant managed to stray from is designated bag. Then the aimless wander around garish shopping malls until your gate is called, then to jump into action in a sprint to the other side of the airport. Then to queue, and queue and queue some more until you’re on board. Then the waiting, the taxying, lift off, and wait. Dry, recirculated air sears your nostrils, and you hear the gurgle of a baby three rows back and pray. It coughs, splutters and settles. Then there’s turbulence, and the baby’s off. A garish sight three rows in front of matching outfits, t-shirts and hoodies with descriptions of their character printed on the back. After witnessing gals and lads on tour drink their weight from tiny bottles of alcohol, between unifying chants that they’re ‘on tour’, you wearily step off the plane at your destination. The weathers fine, the locals are friendly, and a week later you manage to exchange just enough for the taxi back to the airport, just to do it all again to get home.
Our insatiable need to see something new, to feel the total removal from our woes and stresses at home is the overriding factor that drives the dream to go somewhere else. Where the daily stresses of everyday life that make it necessary to get away where bills and responsibilities can’t reach. Perhaps its the immersion in a culture where people don’t speak the language, feeling like there’s nothing you can do but go along with what the area has to offer you, a place where the duties of everyday life can’t creep. But we all do have an obligation, to circumvent the impact that these lavish lifestyles have on the environment. In our desperate need to escape working life through trips to foreign lands, massive amounts of adverse environmental effects are projected onto the planet that we’re desperate to explore.
The environmental impact of travelling abroad for a trip is massive. Tourism is also one of the most significant ecological and social threats and is growing at a yearly rate of 4%, overtaking the growth of trade. Travelling and staying in distant realms is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions, air travel making up over 60% of such. And while holiday-trippers may be able to justify their trips in regards to their personal lives, the average UK citizens personal total of greenhouse gas emissions is 7.1 tonnes. To get down to a fair share of the world’s total, this must be cut to 1.2 tonnes per year, the average cost of one return flight to New York from London. And with disposable income rising across the globe, so too will trips to foreign lands. By 2030 the carbon emissions from aviation alone will exceed the UK’s total carbon allocation under a 450 parts per million target.
After the plane touches down on foreign soil, the environmental and social impacts at your destination don’t stop there. To provide the luxuries expected from a paid trip away, the needs of native environments and residents are often overlooked. Essentials like water and power that we’re so accustomed to are usually diverted away from local communities to sustain immense and exclusive tourist resorts and golf courses. Waste and pollution ravage once carefully managed areas, now exposed to our disposable attitudes. Ecosystems and communities can find themselves uprooted under the facade of flood risks, only to see large resorts erected along the beachfront in place of their long gone villages. Economic returns promised back to the local community as compensation are instead syphoned into multinational tour agents projects and bonuses.
Meanwhile, the Great British Countryside lays out all its unparalleled beauty to those who stay. Revealed from beneath the smog and aeroplane plumes, rich views across lush green vistas, punctuated by swathes of water, canals, rivers and lakes converging together across the landscape. Jet-setters, primed with airport anxiety and pocketbook maps, expensive going abroad data packages and hastily bought currency, fly above the richness that England has to offer, in favour of hotel resorts, villas, ye olde false British towns, traditional English fry-ups and imported sand.
A journey to anywhere in the UK by road coughs out up to 90% fewer emissions than any trip to far-flung continents, with cultures as different as Yorkshire, Cornwall and London. These regions invite you in with local ales, traditions and delicacies. There are no new words to learn here, beyond emmets (Cornwall), heyem (Yorkshire), pom sarnie (South East) and bean feast (Wales). No money to exchange and re-exchange. No fees for discovering too late you didn’t bring enough cash. Your understanding of the language makes you far less foul to tourist traps, no places beholden to topless holiday goers and blank-faced tourists staring at an incomprehensible map. Beyond vast castle perimeters, national parks and historical attractions, lesser known spots behind hedgerows, beyond fields and along canals are rare wildlife that only this island can support, idyllic vistas rarely stumbled upon by our own kind. Centres dedicated to the attraction of the British culture, sensitively created with the protection of the environment at its heart. Family friendly, pet friendly, couples centric, to single occupancy havens are available to you from the sanctity of your own car or the far reaching places public transport has to offer, at a fraction of the price of air travel. From curated Airbnb cottages, apartments and entire houses, to glamping, camping and campervaning, the scenes of the Great British countryside can be revelled in all its splendour.
Before you go in search of ways to step away from the stresses of everyday life, perhaps stop to think what it is you want. With temperatures in the UK higher than they’ve ever been, rivalling the sunny climates of Spain, Greece and Mexico, the getaway you need might be closer than you think.