Family holidays and environmental awareness don't necessarily sit happily together, but with a little effort you can significantly reduce your holiday's footprint and adhere to that great old Native American saying, ‘Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints'.
• Stay close to home. The most eco-friendly thing to do is to stay in the UK, with our top recommendations being Norfolk, Cornwall, Devon, Pembrokeshire, the Peak District and the Lake District, in accommodation such as Feather Down Farms and Bluestone holiday village. Travelling responsibly doesn't have to mean travelling expensively – in fact, often it means quite the opposite.
• If you do decide to travel long-haul, don’t beat yourself up about it – just make sure that you're staying somewhere that contributes to the wealth, health and wellbeing of its local area. That is, rather than paying for carbon off-set, stay somewhere that directly contributes to its environment through employment, educational schemes or policies to conserve local wildlife and the eco-structure.
• Bear in mind that many of the world's poorer countries have the best ‘green’ places to stay, and that staying away from Indonesia, for example, because of concerns over long-haul flying, does more damage than it avoids. See our features on family-friendly green places to stay in Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, Asia and Australasia.
• Go camping, glamping, caravanning or hostelling, or stay on an organic farm. Look for places that recycle, use solar/wind energy, offer local food, employ local people, conserve water, have proper sewage treatment, are built using local material and in a sensitive way, contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, are thoughtful and sensitive of local customs and heritage, actively promote cultural understanding and have made a long-term commitment to local people and the local environment. Look for some commitment in their website and brochures – ignore those that just stick ‘eco’ in front of their name and then never mention it again in favour of places that have signed up for pledges and joined green organisations and can prove how green they are.
• Travel by train and/or bike or at least try to do so once you are at your destination.