The demand for fly-free holidays is on the up. Annabelle Thorpe of 101 Holidays is your guide to the best options.

As the climate crisis becomes an increasingly hot topic, many of us are rethinking everything from the clothes we buy to the type of car we drive. Compromising on a holiday can be tough; we all crave a week or two of sun and a change of scene, but flying remains the most environmentally damaging way to travel. The good news is that fly-free options are increasing all the time, with rail companies and tour operators adding new itineraries and destinations. Annabelle Thorpe of 101 Holidays is your guide to the best options.

Family Breaks

A holiday at home isn’t just the greenest option, it’s also the least stressful and most affordable, particularly if you have kids in tow. Get them away from their screens with a trip to Gwel An Mor in Cornwall, which boasts its own wildlife centre, climbing walls, golf and a soft-play area that tinies will love, or spend a week on a working farm in Wales, where they can meet the animals and get involved with farm life.

Teens need active holidays, which is why surfing breaks are a popular choice; the Sands Resort sits directly above the spectacular beach at Watergate Bay, and offers board hire and can arrange surf lessons. Or whisk them off to the Merton Hotel in Jersey (accessible by ferry from Poole), which boasts its own FlowRider Surf Wave pool and Aquadome water park. Planning a holiday can be daunting if you’re a solo parent; Single with Kids has a wide range of UK group holidays, from glamping to activity weekends.

Couples’ Retreats

A romantic break doesn’t have to mean getting on a plane – the UK is dotted with gorgeous country house hotels that combine a feeling of escape with plenty of pampering. Gilpin Lodge is a luxurious Lake District bolthole with a tranquil lakeside spa and Michelin-starred restaurant just a stone’s throw from Windermere, while Pen y Dyffryn is a relaxed country house, surrounded by the Shropshire hills. Spend days walking through the rolling landscapes, and reward yourself with lip-smacking, locally-sourced dinners in the cosy restaurant. If you really want to feel you’ve left everything behind for a few days, hop the ferry to Ireland and hole up in your own country cottage; pick a beach escape on the lovely Galway coast, or a rural retreat in the Ring of Kerry.

European Escapes

If you’re keen for a holiday abroad, it’s never been easier to reach Europe without boarding a flight. Brittany is famous for its glorious sandy beaches, medieval walled citadels and fantastic food. Siblu holiday parks throughout France are a great choice for families with younger children. If you want to go further afield, try Galicia, the north-west corner of Spain. Easily accessible by ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, the countryside is dotted with vineyards and picturesque villages, with a dramatic Atlantic coastline. If you fancy a holiday by train, the Bernina Express offers the chance to experience the spectacular beauty of the Swiss Alps from the comfort of your carriage, while TourHound is a one-stop-shop for a huge range of escorted coach tours across Europe.

Mini Adventures

A no-fly holiday does remove the possibility of climbing K2 or cycling across the Mojave desert, but there are still plenty of ways to get the pulse racing and create a holiday to remember. Catch the ferry from Penzance to the Scillies and explore this extraordinary clutch of islands, with their warm microclimate and centuries old traditions, or immerse yourself in the dramatic landscapes of the Western Isles, with an island-hopping jaunt through Scotland.

You can even take a small ship cruise around the Hebrides. Or have an adventure by rail; discover the jaw-dropping scenery and historic steam railways of the Scottish Highlands, or explore rural Spain on El Transcantabrico, a luxury four-night journey linking Santiago de Compostela with San Sebastian.

On The Water

Take to the water rather than the skies; boating holidays are a wonderful way to slow the pace, whether gliding between waterfront pubs in the tranquil Norfolk Broads, or drifting through the lushly-beautiful Alsace region in France, where canals run through picturesque villages and the elegant city of Strasbourg. If you’re considering cruising as an alternative to flying, try a mini-cruise – a two or three night jaunt that will give you an idea of whether big ship holidays are for you.


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February 2019