Holiday Guilt – when sustainable travel just isn’t an option

So yesterday I booked a last minute holiday. A well deserved, much needed, 5 day trip to Mallorca to catch some rays and sit by the pool. Sounds perfect, right? So why do I feel so guilty?

Carbon – it’s all about the carbon.

My return trip to Mallorca from Heathrow will emit 0.57 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – the equivalent of driving 1,357 miles in an average car, or burning 612 pounds of coal. This may not seem like a lot – but it all adds up. And this is the cause of my guilt.

If I could I would get the Eurostar, and a couple of trains, and a ferry to Mallorca to avoid flying – but in reality that’s just not possible. Yes, physically it would be possible. But financially and timewise green travel options just aren’t an option for me and this holiday dilemma is one that many people have to face. Why does sustainable travel cost so much more than a flight? And what can we do to minimise our guilt when we do have to fly?

My Sustainable Route VS My Flights

My flight to Mallorca from Heathrow will take around 2 and a half hours – 5 hours travelling time total. A quick google search and visit to Green Traveller tells me that travelling to Mallorca via train and ferry would take me 25 hours plus a whole day in Barcelona. So in total 50 hours, plus 2 days in Barcelona – adding at least an extra 4 days to my holiday. That’s an extra 4 days that I’d need to take off work which is far from ideal.

Financially, travelling sustainably would be equally as challenging. My 5 day break is costing me £270 all inclusive – that’s flights, hotel, transfers, and all of my food/drink. According to Green Traveller my sustainable journey alone would cost me at least £280 – more than my entire holiday!

Perhaps if I’m ever rich, and self employed, spending 4 days and £280 on travelling will be plausible – but for now, I’m stuck with cheap carbon emitting flights, and the guilt that comes with them.

How to offset the guilt and carbon

There are ways of offsetting your guilt, and in fact the carbon emitted in your actions. Carbon Offsetting is when you do something to reduce emissions to compensate for your emissions – for example, planting a tree to make up for a car journey. Websites such as ClimateCare allow you to buy your offsets – which will then be used to create green energy, or provide sustainable cooking stoves for people in less developed countries.

Alternatively, you could get out there and so some offsetting yourself! Find a local tree planting day, volunteer to clean a local river or canal, or do something to make you feel slightly less guilty for your travel choices. When I’m back from my holiday next week, I’m going to find a volunteering opportunity somewhere near me to plant trees or plants so that I can feel like I’ve done something good to make up for it!

Sustainable living and travel isn’t always easy or possible (because you don’t have the money, or the time, or the capability) but I’m willing to accept that I can’t always make the ‘right’ choice, and take other actions to minimise my impact when the ‘wrong’ choice is the only choice I have.

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