When you travel, you have a choice.
You can leave debris in beautiful valleys, spend money on factory-made souvenirs, and give nothing to the people and places you visit.
Or you can preserve the locations, sustain the communities, and ensure the destinations are beautiful for future generations.
And when we travel, we undoubtedly prefer the latter.
But it’s not always easy.
Because when you arrive in a place you know nothing about, it can be hard to understand what’s good for the community and environment.
So, we’ve written this article to help you make the right choices and travel Britain and Ireland responsibly.
For thousands of years, cities have provided clean, comprehensive water systems; while at the same time, the UN has decreed that access to water is a human right.
There’s no evidence bottled water in Britain is cleaner, healthier, or better to drink than tap water. In fact, many health authorities argue that city water systems are more stringently monitored and therefore safer to drink.
And what’s more is non-biodegradable plastic bottles take around three bottles of water to create when you consider the processing requirements.
But regardless of these facts, people still pay more for bottled water, and marketers are still allowed to promote it.
So, when you travel Britain, don’t support this unsustainable industry. Take advantage of the excellent tap water and refill your refillable bottle wherever you can.
It’s hard to know where your food and clothing come from. You can eat a piece of fruit that was grown in Africa, sanitised in Asia, and packaged in Europe. Or you may wear shoes with heels made in France, laces sown in India, and soles manufactured in Brazil.
But if you want to travel ethically, it’s best to try and ensure everything you buy and eat comes from the country you’re travelling in. This way you're opposing the idea that products should be shipped thousands of miles using fossil fuels.
To do this, you can check all the labels of the clothes you buy and go to the smaller locally-owned shops rather than large stores owned by conglomerates. And with food, simply look for places offering local British cuisine and avoid the big branded chain restaurants.
And we promise you that those locally grown vegetables are way tastier than a McDonalds’ Big Mac.
Marketing people are smart. They’ll always find a way to make you think you need something; even if it’s as useless as jet-powered pencil sharpener. Just look online for some travel products, and you’ll find coffee cup holders for your suitcase, tiny collapsible boots, smartphone Swiss-army tool kits, and inflatable head cocoons.
These may look great, but when you buy them, you end up using them once and then leaving them in your attic to collect dust and feed the moths.
So, when you travel to the UK and Ireland, try to ignore the shiny adverts telling you what you need. Simply spend your money on the travel items you know you’ll use again and again. And remember, you don’t need to pack much more than your five senses and waterproofs to enjoy the best of the UK and Ireland.
We admit it. We’re biased because we run tours. But the facts are on our side.
When you rent a car, you’re using a lot of petrol and a lot of road space. Whereas on a tour or on public transport, you’re sharing the fuel with more people. And therefore, you’re creating less emissions per person on your holiday.
What’s more is when you take public transport, you end up meeting loads of the locals and going on unexpected adventures. And if you take a tour, you often find out the secret stories and best recommendations from your guide without having to worry about driving and planning.
A lot of hotels are built by companies who import their materials, workforce, and business practises. This often means they don’t fit the communities they’re placed in, while at the same time, they’re owned by someone who may have never even heard of the place the hotel is located.
So, to ensure your money doesn’t end up in the pockets of millionaires who live millions of miles away, you should stay in locally owned B&Bs, hostels, and hotels.
It’s also better because in a lot of small towns, the local owners will be engaged in community projects and spend their earnings at the nearby shops and schools. So, where you stay can end up meaning a lot to a lot of the town’s benefactors.
Gorgeous landscapes, castle ruins, tiny wee villages: these places are under threat. It could be because of agricultural projects that aim to monetise the natural area, or huge hotels that need to knockdown a 19th century building. But whatever the issue is, there’s likely to be something you can do to help.
So, whenever you fall in love with a location, take a little time to find out if there’s any way to give something back to the place. There are conservation charities, petitions, and many more ways to help. You can see how we help the places we visit on our environment page.
We can all be a little judgemental sometimes.
And at our worst, we can come to silly conclusions about an entire country’s population based on one experience with one person from that place. So, when you travel, be aware of how people may see you and act as patient, culturally aware, and friendly as possible. Act as you would if you were a guest in your spouse’s grandmother’s house.
And if the locals remember you as an incredible person, it’s more likely they’ll treat you better, teach you more of the traditions, and maybe they’ll even behave better and do more for your country when they decide to visit.
When we were young, our mothers told us to ‘leave a home better than you found it’. This meant that when you slept at a friend’s house, you should not only tidy it up, but you should also leave a gift of some sort or another.
So, when you visit the UK and Ireland, pick up a few bits of litter someone else dropped, hold the door open, or buy a nice bottle of liquor for your favourite hotel host or guide.
Leave the country better than your found it. Even if it’s just by giving someone some happy memories.