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Planning a holiday? How to travel the world in an eco-friendly way

by Grace McGettigan
19th Feb 2020

Going on holiday doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here’s how to travel the world in an environmentally friendly way

People all over Ireland are becoming increasingly aware of the climate crisis, and more importantly, the ways in which we can actively reduce our carbon footprint. Small changes, if done by enough people, can make a big difference. We’ve already seen improvements in household recycling and more families are retrofitting their homes to save energy than ever before.

But we can also make changes when it comes to holidays and travel. More and more of us are choosing to offset our carbon footprints. This involves using a free online calculator (such as this one) to figure out how much CO2 we’re responsible for on a flight, converting that CO2 into real money terms, and investing that money into an environmental cause or community project.

Another way to travel while being mindful of your carbon footprint is to book through an environmentally-conscious travel agency. For example, Tropical Sky and American Sky are two such places offering environmentally-friendly packages to destinations all over the world. Though expensive, deals like these can lessen the pressure of environmental guilt.

This is something many travellers want. A recent survey of Irish holidaymakers by found more than 50% of us are willing to pay more for air travel if the additional cost goes directly towards eco-friendly projects, such as planting trees to reduce our carbon footprint. What’s more, a quarter of those surveyed said the way in which they travel (and the places to which they travel) will be determined by their carbon footprint and potential damage to the planet.

With that in mind, here are some of the eco-friendly package deals available to Irish holidaymakers in 2020:

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa (Maldives)

7 nights Bed & Breakfast from €3,439 per person (including flights)

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa in the Maldives is a barefoot luxury lodge nestled on Emboodhu Finolhu. The property is making waves when it comes to the sustainability of their lagoons, with its Reef Recharge program getting everyone involved. Formed by the hotel and Ocean Dive Maldives, the initiative lets you sponsor and build your own coral reef, whilst also protecting what’s already there. Just make sure you choose a reef-safe sun cream when exploring the water – the ingredient oxybenzone (or octinoxate), which is found in many high-street brands is harmful to marine life.

American Heritage (USA)

9 nights from €2,589 (including flights)

This independent rail tour takes tourists across Boston, New York and Washington DC. As you’re travelling cross-country by rail rather than by air, your carbon footprint is instantly reduced.

Kathryn Glover, who is the programme director at American Sky said, “We are seeing more demand for experiential and low-impact travel. For example, there is lot of interest in rail tours which enable travellers to cover vast distances and tick off bucket-list sights in a more environmentally friendly way.”

Included in this holiday are flights from Dublin and transfers by rail, seats on Amtrak rail between each city, hotel accommodation, as well as a full range of sightseeing tours. The package also includes two dinners in popular Boston and New York restaurants.

Route 66 by rail (USA)

13 nights from €3,059 including flights

Did you know you can travel Route 66 without a car? By venturing cross-country by train instead, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. This particular package includes flights from Ireland, plus all rail fares and accommodation.

Also on this independent tour from Chicago to Los Angeles, you’ll stop at all the iconic destinations on Route 66 – including St Louis, Albuquerque, the spectacular Grand Canyon and Santa Monica pier.

Capital Experience by rail (Canada)

9 nights from €1,979 (including flights)

As with the American rail tours above, this holiday package allows you to experience Canada by train.

Travel on VIA Rail to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City; marvel at the scenery and be inspired by the galleries and museums.

This independent tour allows you to enjoy your nine-day holiday at your own pace, all the while giving you access to pre-booked, locally guided tours in each key location.

Elephant Hills, Khao Sok National Park (Thailand)

Bed & Breakfast from €242 per person per night

If you’ve ever wished you could immerse yourself in the natural world of a tropical Thai rainforest, here’s your chance. At Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park, you will help take care of the elephants, as well as jungle trek and canoe on a stunning lake surrounded by limestone mountains (whose ancient tree canopies hide monkeys, gibbons, wild elephants and big cats).

After a day spent on safari, you can share your experiences at the camp restaurant and bar before retreating to the sanctuary of your own jungle tent.

Capital to Coast Kenya Safari (Kenya)

6 nights from €2,900 per person (including flights)

Experience the wonders of Nairobi National Park, Amboseli National Park and Tsavo East National Park all connected by the fabulous Nairobi-Mombasa railway line on this fabulous six-night itinerary.

This package includes international flights, transfers, a driver/guide for safari experiences, six nights accommodation, all National Park fees and activity fees, plus all rail journeys.

Photos: Tropical Sky, Africa Sky

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