If you love to travel but also care about the environment, it can be difficult to strike a balance between the two. It is near impossible to travel without a carbon footprint unless you intend to walk the entire journey, but there are holidays and travelling options that help you to reduce your environmental impact.
It’s worth taking the time to plan a holiday where all, or part, of the journey is undertaken on your own steam. Whether that is by bicycle, foot, boat or even roughing it under canvas, it is a rewarding approach to a new holiday.
The aim of eco-tourism is to leave no trace when you go back home and with that in mind how about these super-green travelling ideas:
On Two Feet…
Slow Food Walking Holidays, Italy
If you are planning an eco-friendly holiday within Europe, you should definitely think about going by Eurostar or train instead of flying. Your journey time may be doubled but your C02 emissions will have dropped by up to 91%. But what to do when you get there?
Well if you love food, but you also love to exercise, then a walking holiday might be the perfect eco-friendly option. What better way to offset the consumption of baked goods?!
Why not go on a gastronomic tour of Southern Italy and visit the bakeries of Matera and the vineyards of Aglianico, before hiking across the southern Apennines, towards the mountains of Basilicata. Some tours also offer cookery workshops on slow food throughout: plenty to learn, see and eat!
The Smuggler’s Route, Portugal
Hidden within the beautiful São Mamede Natural Park, is an old smugglers route into Spain. The route is now a peaceful spot and along the way, there are several megalithic tombs. The route is part of a week’s walking trip which takes you through the São Mamede hills, where the nearby historic towns of Marvão and Castelo de Vide will provide you with a break from your travels.
Cruise the Canal du Midi
The joy of many of these eco options is that they force you to adopt a slower pace of life. It’s easy to get used to high speed travel, but it can feel liberating when you take time out to slow down, whether that means cycling, walking or a solar powered boat.
This is a slow but beautiful cruise, powered by the sun’s rays. The hotel-boat, Languedoc travels through the 17th century canal system (Canal du Midi) taking 7 days to travel the 75km journey.
En route you can choose to visit a wind farm, tour the vineyards of Minervois and Ventenac or visit the Cathar castle at Lastours.
Kayak around the Maddalena, Sardinia
One of the best ways to enjoy Sardinia’s unspoilt coastline, is by sea. The beauty of the coastline is thanks to a government legislation which bans building property within 2km of the sea.
The seven main islands, and more than 50 islets, provide the perfect base for an island hopping adventure. The best time to go is September and October, as the water is clearest and the sea at its warmest.
On Two Wheels
The Ancient Via De La Plata, Spain
This historic route snakes its way through Spain, starting at Santiego De Compostela and finishing at Sevilla. The journey will take you on the old Roman Road, through the heart of Spain, nearly cycling its entire length.
There are many towns and villages scattered along the route, giving you the opportunity to go sightseeing and stock up on supplies, as well as find accommodation.
Cycle through the Vineyards of Loire Valley, France
If you’re after something a little less challenging, then this route might be for you. France’s chateau, wine and sunflower region is fairly flat, which is good news for your legs. The region is also filled with opportunities to go on wine tasting tours, the perfect way to soak up the French atmosphere.
Towns on route like Cheverny, Chateau Chambord and Amboise, offer a welcome break from pedalling.
Cycling the railways in Via Verde La Sierra, Andalucia
Built in the 1920s, the trains on these railway lines are long gone, but in the place of tracks there are cycle paths. These ‘greenways’ provide a wonderful cycle network that will take you around the area of Andalucia. This stunning route takes you across 4 viaducts and through 30 mountain tunnels.
There is a great variety of nearby hotels in Malaga, proving the perfect base for your travels.
So learn to embrace the power of your own two feet (and arms for that matter!) and travel using your body not an engine!
What tips do you have for sustainable travel? Do you know of any great eco-friendly holiday ideas?
Louise Blake is a new mum and loves writing about her travels for Hotelopia. She is an eco-friendly traveller and loves writing about environmental issues too. She adores animals and when not out taking her dog for nice long walks, she can be found getting her body back into shape with Pilates. Image by Brilith