I can’t quite remember how we decided that in 2018 we would only holiday in the UK. I think a mix of reasons led to the decision. We travelled a lot in 2017, and as well as over-stretching our budget a bit, we also felt bad about the amount of flights we had taken. So for 2018 we treated ourselves to a tent and pledged to stay in the UK for a whole year.
Sometimes travelling can seem like it gets a free pass on the ethical front. Holidays are meant to be an escape from reality, so we sometimes forget to bring our ethical principles with us. When we go on holiday and ‘get away from it all’, does that include forgetting the impact our lives have on the planet and the people we share it with?
Staying in the UK helped us to reconsider what our priorities were for holidays. We wanted to relax, eat good food and see beautiful landscapes. As any Brit knows, you can’t guarantee the weather (a fact borne out by our camping in Wales the week before the hottest summer on record began). But with the right mindset, you can still find new adventures round every corner.
A British bucket list
Buying local made eating well easy. As well as being more ethical, it was also a great excuse to eat our way round the British isles.
Have you ever bought a freshly baked welsh cake, covered in sugar, delivered warm into your hands, 5 for £1.50? At the indoor market in Swansea we discovered this unique pleasure. Originally we intending to take them back to our campsite, we ended up scoffing them down whilst sitting on a bench just outside the market, being eyed by eager and envious seagulls. Needless to say they didn’t get a crumb.
While staying in Norfolk we ate Binham Blue cheese, munched on crabs in Cromer and slurped celeriac soup. Being on holiday gave us the time to be more picky about what we ate and where it came from. Especially when staying in the countryside where we couldn’t just pop to our local supermarket like we normally would.
As well as appreciating the UK’s food, we wanted to really get to know its landscape. On a trip to Australia in 2016 we were amazed at all the wildlife we saw and came away unsure that the UK could measure up. Happily a year of holidays here proved us wrong. The beaches of the Gower in Wales were beautiful, even in the rain. Out on a boat in Norfolk we saw seals enjoying the winter sun. A trip to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland blew our minds at how weird and wonderful creation could be. It made us more eager to explore the nature on our doorstep.
Escaping the tourist trap
Our year of UK holidays helped me understand that I didn’t have to go far to eat well, be awed by nature, or to feel a sense of rest. In fact largely avoiding airports (apart from a quick flight to Belfast) was probably the most restful thing.
This year we’ll probably end up going outside of the UK, but a trip abroad is no longer the default for us. And I’m definitely planning to keep trying to make our holidays more ethical. Partly with small things, like taking my reusable cup and bottle on holiday like I would on a normal day at home. But I’m also thinking big, like researching how to carbon offset our flights and booking places to stay (and eat!) that give back to the local community. I know it’s a privilege to go on holiday at all and I want to make sure my good fortune doesn’t lead to someone else’s downfall.