Fab no-fly holidays ideas for Great Britain and beyond

7 Dec 2023
10 min read
Fab No-fly holidays Ideas for Great Britain and Beyond

Why are Holidays Close to Home the Best?

Visiting Great Britain and taking holidays close to home provides an opportunity to explore one of the most varied and captivating landscapes in the world and as a special bonus, completely removes the need to fly. 

There are literally millions of activities and beauty spots waiting to be discovered.

The British Isles are a fantastic place to explore with a holiday to suit absolutely everyone. From beach holidays to remote cottages, ancient castles and bustling cities, there is accommodation and destinations to suit everyone. Whether you like art in St Ives, cycling in woodlands, city breaks or adventures on the river Wye there are literally millions of activities and beauty spots waiting to be discovered. And of course, no holiday would be complete without great food and drink to be tasted along the way.

Holiday Planning in the British Isles

Some people enjoy planning holidays almost as much the adventures themselves. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to finding the exact experience for your dream holiday. There are also thousands of experienced staff in tourist information offices up and down the country waiting to help plan your ideal holiday. A map of locations of tourist offices in England is available here at Visit England.

A list of major events and festivals is provided by Visit Britain and more detail can be found on the official tourism websites.

Holidays Close to Home

Holidays close to home are a great way to discover some of the hidden highlights on our shores and in addition, reduce pollution from airplanes. From the Highlands of Scotland to the mountains of Wales along with the remote islands surrounding our coast there is so much to discover. Each individual county offers inspiration and variety to suit every budget, interest and hobby. Somerset alone has Georgian Bath, the cathedral city of Wells, beaches and moors, cider and cheese making plus the world-famous Glastonbury and Cheddar Gorge.

Sun Holiday

Blue and white beach huts on a UK beach

For those looking for a sun holiday, statistically the South West region is your best bet. Plus, there are the islands to explore from the Isles of Scilly to the Isle of Wight and of course the beautiful beaches of Jersey and Guernsey. The Channel Islands boast the most hours of sunshine anywhere in the UK (so they are also great for solar power generation).  As well as the UK, the island of Ireland is a short ferry ride across the sea and is also a perfect holiday destination.

The Emerald Isle of Ireland

Ireland is a beautiful, charming and captivating travel destination famous for its hospitality and beautiful scenery. At the nearest point Northern Ireland is only twelve miles away from Scotland so it is extremely easy to travel to with frequent ferry crossings to Dublin, Rosslare and Belfast. And with a tenth of the population of Great Britain the pace of life is very relaxed, friendly and fun.

There is so much to do from visiting the Giant Causeway to the Guinness Factory in Dublin, retracing the footsteps of famous writers and artists such as James Joyce and U2 as well as the world famous Titanic visitor centre. But if you prefer scenery the Wild Atlantic Way is a dramatic and scenic route along the beaches and cliffs of the west coast of Ireland.

Top Ten No-Fly Travel Destinations in Europe

Ferry routes to mainland Europe and the Eurostar offer a gateway to many amazing holiday destinations.

However, if you wish to travel further ferry routes to mainland Europe and the Eurostar offer a gateway to many amazing holiday destinations. This fantastic article by Mark Smith (of the man in seat 61 fame), offers the top ten travel destinations in Europe that can be reached by train. As well as being more relaxing, when ‘the train takes the strain’, your carbon emissions from London to Paris are cut by 90% compared with flying! So, as well as being more enjoyable, quick and avoiding airport carpark fees, taking the Eurostar is much better for the environment.

Hotels and Accommodation in the UK

Tenby beach and castle, in the UK

The range of luxury and specialist accommodation in the UK has significantly improved from standard hotel and B&B options. There is now an opportunity to stay in accommodation to fit any desire from light houses to town houses.

Boutique and luxury accommodation offers service with style often in historic grounds with spas and pampering to suit. There are many websites to help you find your dream trip from small luxury hotels to boutique inns and gastropubs. And if you have children there is Luxury Family Hotels.

If waking up in the countryside is more your thing then Farm Stay has over a thousand farms you can stay in offering B&B, self-catering and glamping opportunities. National Trust has accommodation at some of the greatest heritage sites in the UK along with unusual offerings such as bunkers and barns.

Meanwhile Centre Parcs and Forest Holidays offer the chance to book a cabin in the woods and cycle around site leaving your car behind. Holiday Parks across the UK include the iconic Butlins, Hoseasons and Haven offer various facilities and entertainment. And of course, there is always the opportunity to stay in someone else’s home…

In terms of renting an amazing house, Airbnb is great but at the top-end of the market Unique Home Stays and One Fine Stay have some fabulous homes to visit. You can even swap your home for free. There are many sites that offer this service as featured in the Guardian. So, whatever your preferences, there is accommodation to suit your budget, style and hobbies right here in the UK.

Green Tourism

Many tourist destinations have green initiatives. Quite often these are simple schemes such as sourcing food from the local region and encouraging visitors to only wash their towels when needed to save water. Many hotels are offering electric car charging stations in their car park and striving to reduce the impact of tourism on the planet whenever possible and have a badge to prove it.

As well as accommodation, the other way to ‘green’ your holiday is to consider sustainable travel. There is a list of useful organisations under the travel section of One Home’s Getting Around topic.

A Guide to Visiting Britain By Train

The Benefits of Not Flying

Airports and particularly long-haul flights are rarely a pleasant experience so exploring Great Britain provides a far more relaxing and enjoyable travel experience. In addition, avoiding flying is a very environmentally-sound choice.

The Very Unglamorous Reality of Long-Haul Flights

Top Five Reasons to Avoid Long-Haul Flights:

  1. More time exploring – less time at airport and in planes, which are boring.
  2. No jet lag. Moving between time zones changes the body’s natural rhythm, which is associated with fatigue and irritability.
  3. Your chances of getting sick increase the longer you are in the air.
  4. Noise on planes can reach around 100 decibels on take-off plus the change in air pressure that can sometimes be painful in people’s ears.
  5. Immobility coupled with cramped conditions on long flights increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis; a blood clot in the leg that can block the heart or lungs if it enters the blood stream.

The Real Consequences of Cheap Flights

Aeroplane on the ground with boarding passengers

The offer of cheap flights may seem attractive however, climate change is literally wrecking the fragile islands and places we seek to visit in exotic destinations. From heat waves to droughts, hurricanes to forest fires the impacts of global warming are no longer a disputable or rare event. Extreme weather events are an increasing risk to the viability of millions of people and places. But we do have a choice and sitting in a plane for six hours or more is not fun as there is no view and very little room.

How Bad for the Environment is Flying

The prickly subject of how bad is flying for the environment is seen as a political hot potato. However, no one is advocating not going on holiday, meeting new people and experiencing new places and pleasures.  Adventures and exploring are an essential and wonderful part of travel. However, long-haul flights and frequent flyers disproportionately impact climate change.

Flying accounts for 7% of UK emissions. However, the impact of pollution at high altitude is greater and the aviation industry is rapidly increasing with airport expansion a contentious issue in several cities.

Frequent Flyers

Around 90% of domestic flights in the UK were taken by just 2% of the population in 2019. Frequent flyers therefore, are responsible for the majority of passenger growth and the pollution caused by planes in the atmosphere.

Long-Haul Flights

Burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2). The longer you fly, the more CO2 is produced. In the UK the average annual CO2 emissions per person is seven tonnes. However, a flight to New Zealand is almost the same amount at 6.35t of CO2, so the equivalent of a whole years’ worth of carbon emissions. If you fly first class, then the figure rises to 25 tonnes due to the amount of space taken up on board. That is the equivalent of three years’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions for one person. Long-haul flights are bad for the planet.

Therefore, if you are choosing between different holidays choose the one with the shortest time spent in the air. Ecopassenger allows you to compare the difference in emissions for flying, car or train travel. 

Carbon Offsets

If you really do have to fly long-haul for essential work or family reasons then it is worth considering offsetting the carbon emissions. Prevention is always better than cure so flying less in terms of frequency and duration is best. However, good quality carbon offset schemes help to fund some very important projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere in the world.

Voluntary carbon offsetting is not the magic bullet for flying but it is definitely better than doing nothing.  Established companies use your donation to fund carbon reduction projects in developing countries, such as tree planting or improving energy efficiency by introducing improved cooking stoves. The idea is that these carbon savings are ‘additional’ because without the voluntary funding these changes would not have happened.  Other charities, such as Cool Earth, protect rainforests but offsetting can become quite complicated very quickly.

Holidays that do Good for You and the Planet

The fascinating landscapes, history and attractions of the UK can provide amazing opportunities for wonderful holidays and help to reduce global warming. There are also plenty of destinations outside the UK that can be reached by train of ferry compared with flying overseas. So, for the sake of a more relaxing and better environment, holidays close to home are a great idea. 

If you must fly, then choose destinations that involve the shortest journeys. The less hours spent in the air, the less pollution is produced and the more time you have for fun. Finally, if you fly regularly it is worth thinking why and at least supporting a project that does good in the world. Not only will you help brighten up someone else’s day, but the world will be a better place for it too. Happy holidays.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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