With our current situation leaving us all wondering how our traditional holidays and escaping abroad will be affected, and increasing environmental awareness leading a drive for more sustainable holiday and travel habits, our June Horsham Climate Cafe focused in on what alternatives are out there for us all. We discussed Staycations, SlowCations and Ethical Travel, and came away inspired with the abundance of brilliant ideas learnt and shared. What was clear at the end of the session – there are so many brilliant alternatives out there to the traditional ‘jet-setting’ holiday, so our precious relaxation time is still there ripe for the taking!
For this Climate Café, we were lucky enough to be joined by 4 speakers; Sarah Bamsey (Staycations), Karrie Mellor (opportunities on the Isle of White), Jill Shuker (Slowcations using trains across Europe) and Beth Richardson (Ethical travel). You can watch a video of the talks at the bottom of this page and we have summarised for you below the brilliant take-away points from everyone, so please do dip in and out of what interests you and have an explore of all the shared ideas!
Staycations – Sarah Bamsey
- The absolute key with this is that staycations are a HOLIDAY taken from your house – it is not simply staying at home for the period. So treat it as you would if you were going away! Book the dates you are having. Clear and cut off from all commitments for this time. Decide what holiday you want – a lazy one? Action-packed? Do you want to stay at home, or are you looking for day trips and meals out?
- Make sure you have no lingering jobs to do and do all the normal tasks you would before going away so you really can relax (e.g. cutting the grass, tidying the house). Get in all the items you might want before the holiday, such as books, so you don’t have to keep popping out throughout your holiday. If you wish to stay relaxing in the garden, perhaps invest in comfy garden furniture or a BBQ
- To make it seem even more ‘holiday’ like, many people still pack a suitcase. You could swap bedrooms to stay in a ‘different place’. Camp in your garden! Don’t meet up with people you wouldn’t see if you were ‘away’ on holiday. Don’t do your usual household chores or be tempted to do jobs that ‘need to be done’. Go out for a meal on day 1 if that is what you normally do! Act as if you are away
- If you wish to leave your house, look for exciting new things to do in your area. There is often so much on our doorstep, but we never explore it. Think walks, cycle routes, swimming, theme parks, the cinema/theatre, boat trips, sporting activities, visiting local attractions like local markets, vineyards, National Trust sites…the list goes on! Make a rough plan of what you might like to do, and book in advance for activities you need to book. If you wish to go on some walks or cycle trips, an ordinance survey (OS) map is a must – you can borrow it from your local library or buy the map and get a free download of it on your devices
- Don’t do the things you normally do at home. Shop in different shops, try new places to eat, cook together as a family, don’t just head for the TV when you get home. The more effort you put into it, the more you get out!
Isle of White – Karrie Mellor
- Only costs a family of 4 £90 to catch the train and ferry from Horsham to the Isle of White
- From there, you can use the bus to get around the island. 4 bus routes allow you to take your bikes on the public transport too
- Want good weather? The Isle of White is the sunniest place in the UK!
- So many great activities; walks, cycle routes, the beaches, pubs, kayaking, windsurfing and other water sports
Slowcations by Train in the UK, Europe and Beyond – Jill Shuker
- It is possible now to travel to Japan by train and boat, so if we can do that, we can certainly travel within Europe by train! There are railways everywhere, so all that is needed is a timetable and a destination
- There is a drawback however: railway travel is more expensive than flying. But is a very nice, slow and relaxing way to travel (enjoy a good book or the beautiful views!), and most railway stations are pleasant places to be. They are busy and a lot of the main stations have several shops, cafes and bars to wait in, and also good toilets, if you need to change trains. You also get a lovely sense that you are travelling and feeling a part of the journey, rather than just ‘turning up’ at a destination after getting on a flight
- You can catch a train from Horsham direct to St Pancras now, a wonderful service, and then you can take the Eurostar to Brussels, Paris or Lille, where you have to change. The trains are comfortable, you can take you own food and drink, which I would recommend, and all have usable functioning toilets. A number of the announcements are in 2 or 3 languages, especially on the intercity links. If you have booked seats, you usually know which carriage they are in, and where it will arrive on the platform which makes it easy to find your seat. There is also usually plenty of spaces to put your suitcase
- Some stations have the platforms above the station, and there are usually lifts or escalators to help with heavy suitcases
- Most railway stations are in the middle of towns and cities, so it helps to arrive by train if you wish to explore a city. Unlike airports, which are mostly out of town and necessitate a bus, taxi or train ride to get into the city
- There is a really good website about train travel across Europe called seat 61, it is great and will help you organise your travel plans https://www.seat61.com/
Ethical Travel – Beth Richardson
- Beth’s new website will be ready mid-June! http://www.big-foundation.org
- With movement restrictions still in place, and the pandemic making us all much more aware of and desiring to protect the environment, people may start making more travel choices based on ethical and sustainable considerations than ever before
- With the lack of tourism in developing countries it is leading to poaching and more deforestation, demonstrating the importance of ethical travel with purpose and carbon offsetting activities
- Volunteering can be a great option for those who wish to travel and make a positive impact. Decide where you want to go and why, and search from there
- https://www.campsinternational.com/ is one such company, which specialises in school expeditions so is also a great family option. They also support and employ local people, ensure sustainable initiatives directly benefit local communities, adopt environmentally friendly practises in their camps and match what they earn as a company with donations to charities that support the communities they work in
- Ask – how can I make my travel count? Think about what you are passionate about (e.g. conservation education). Choose a tour operator that demonstrates responsible and ethical travel and matches your wish list. Choose trips that have positive economic and environmental impacts at the destination
- Ask – How can I compensate for the carbon emissions my travel generates? You could consider how fuel efficient your airline is, what the airlines and hotels do with their waste, if they are signed up to carbon offsetting schemes, how they treat their staff, if they support charitable initiatives in the locations they fly to
- At home/work, you could; Change to a renewable energy provider (they are often cheaper), change to a more ethical bank account, reduce/stop your red meat consumption – for you and your pets, use the car less, walk more, reduce/stop plastic use, opt for environmentally-friendly investments, recycle/upcycle, compost waste, don’t buy new clothes, use eco products – skincare, house cleaning. The list goes on….
To get some tips about how to lead a more sustainable life and compensate for the carbon emissions your air travel generates:
- Giki Zero – a brand new interative guide that helps you discover your footprint on the planet, helps you reduce it and celebrates your successes on your journey to live more sustainably.
- “The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide” book by Jen Gale
- “How to Save the World for Free” book by Natalie Fee
- Carbon footprint calculators: https://www.carbonindependent.org & https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/
To learn more about the benefits of volunteering:
“Doing Good Does You Good” pdf/booklet published by the Mental Health Foundation
For ethical volunteering trips:
- School groups: campsinternational.com
- For adults and special one-off gap trips for school leavers/uni starters affected by the pandemic, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Social media: Twitter and Facebook @B1GFoundation, and Instagram @b1gfoundation
Other Resources and Ideas Shared in the Session
- Take part in biological surveys. Record your wildlife sightings on iRecord, join citizen science projects
- Natural History groups
- Historical walks
- Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre surveys
- Knepp Castle Estate surveys
- Earth watch citizen science working holidays
- Remember places like NT properties are going to be only allowing in a small % of the normal visitor numbers (Petworth House gardens only 30%), and pre booked, so book ahead
- You can ‘visit’ some of the stately homes and estates by watching webcast for special seasons or events e.g. Exbury Gardens in the New Forest
- https://www.traveleyes-international.com/ allows you to travel as a ‘sighted traveller’ in a group of blind and sighted travellers. In return for describing the world around you, they subsidise the cost of your holiday by up to 50%
- South Downs Trust volunteer holidays
- Hidden Sussex Facebook group for great day out and hidden gem ideas in the local area
- Try out geocaching! Download the app/go on the website and follow the clues to find little capsules people have hidden all over the world
- https://wwoof.net/ Volunteering and learning on organic farms (UK and international!)
Feeling inspired to get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers, so get in touch or come and meet us and see how you can get involved! Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or sign up to receive our latest news (it only takes two seconds to add your email address – simply click on black ‘Follow‘ tab on bottom right of this screen!). Feel free to also send us an email using our contact form, or come and say hello at our events like the Horsham Climate Cafe or the Horsham Repair Cafe!