The UK Sustainable Travel Guide
The United Kingdom is officially made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. With a landmass of 243,000 sq km, it is the 11th largest country in Europe. However, with a population of over 64 million people, it’s definitely one of the most populous as well. London for example is a major global city that attracts millions of international visitors each year. It’s also a major financial centre for the continent of Europe and globally as well.
Culture in the UK is varied and is more identified by which country you are in. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are all very distinct from one another, and each has their own governments, capital cities, and administrations. Because each of these countries is so different, writing a travel guide for all of the UK is difficult. If you’re travelling through the UK, it’s recommended that you take the time to visit each of these very distinct countries and experience all the varying landscapes, cultures and activities. England is great for urban adventures. Their city centers, such as London, are increasingly becoming more and more green with investments in clean energy technologies. Meanwhile, Ireland, Scotland and Wales can all offer their own versions of breathtaking nature. Wales, for example, has a reputation of being a world-class adventure kayaking site.
The UK supposedly has a reputation of being a nation of animal lovers. And there is wildlife to see. Such examples of wildlife roaming the various meadows, woodlands and wetlands include: Red Deer, Pygmy Shrews, foxes, badgers and rabbits. However, this love for animals has also resulted in a number of zoos, aquariums, safari parks and other wildlife “sanctuaries”. The quality of each facility varies so if you decide to visit one of these parks, it’s best to do your research on which ones does good work as far as education and conservation are concerned. Circuses that use trained animals are still common in the UK as well. Because it is almost impossible to train, transport and house these animals in a humane manner, we recommend abstaining from circuses to prevent further exploitation of the animals.
Traveling sustainably around the UK will largely depend on which country you are visiting and what activities you choose to participate in. However, there are certain staple principles you can adhere to to ensure you’re mitigating your environmental footprint, maximizing your travel dollars’ impact, respecting local cultures, and supporting local economies. Some advice we can provide include:
Opting for local, independently owned hotels instead of large, multinational hotel chains.
Dine out at local restaurants instead of international brands, especially fast food chains.
The UK is well connected with rail. If you need to go from one country to another, take a train instead of a carbon-heavy short-haul flight.
Avoid mass produced souvenirs and go with locally produced ones instead. Be sure to avoid any made from illegal animal parts.
If you’re camping, hiking or participating in any outdoor activity, respect local habitat by keeping it pristine for wildlife and other travelers. If there are park rules or wildlife restrictions, adhere to them. Campers should take out any rubbish they accumulated when they leave.
Practice responsible photography
If you meet locals or stay with them, consider leaving a gift. It’s a nice gesture and will make your interactions with them more meaningful.
In 2017, the UK voted in a controversial referendum to leave the EU. Although this has not affected tourism to the UK so far, it's worth keeping an eye on as it could affect one's ability to enter based on their passports. Please check with your local government's travel advisories to find out the entry and exit requirements if you are planning a trip to the UK.