This is a blog that comes from the heart. Both Lee & I have a background in sustainability – we met whilst both working for an environmental behaviour change charity in London, Global Action Plan. We spent our days working with organisations to help them to reduce their impact on the environment in whichever ways made sense for them. With the havoc caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 it’s time for us all to reflect on our new reality & to recognise how unsustainable our lifestyles are & the devastating impact we’re collectively having on the natural world & on our global health.
As someone who’s livelihood is dependent on people taking holidays & flying out to European destinations to see us the solution for our guests is not clear cut. The human species loves to travel & move about. Modern lifestyles mean flights & short breaks are a really great way to stay happy & expand our horizons. The global reduction in pollution & carbon emissions as a result of lock-downs to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has been significant. No flights, no production, no non-essential journey’s is a great way to tackle climate change.
So the question emerges, how can we maintain a lower-emission lifestyle & still get to enjoy the travel that keeps us happy, and to ride bikes in some of the world’s most spectacular locations?
Solutions for Sustainable Travel
So, what can us travel-obsessed cycling junkies do? How can we experience new places in a way that respects the planet & does not have a negative impact?
The Cycling Stay-cation is a great way to avoid public transport & crowded public spaces like airports & train stations. Cycling from your front door on routes you have never seen before, is a pretty cool thing to do.
The cycling stay-cation might expand to destinations that can be driven to in comfort (& isolation), just a few hours from home. For example, Londoners might head north to the Yorkshire Dales or south west to Cornwall. Cyclists in Barcelona might head to Girona or to the Costa Brava for some relaxed days in the saddle. San Franciscan’s might simply head to Marin County, New Yorkers to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. The truth is there are incredible roads & trails just a few hours from most big cities.
A great side effect of this is that riders will be supporting their local hotels, cafès & restaurants – a great opportunity to give back a little & cut your personal carbon footprint. Plus, it’s just less stressful. The language is the same, the food is familiar and staying close to home in holiday mode might change the perspective of where live for the better.
Taking Longer Holidays
If you do need a take a long-haul or short-haul flight to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime try and go for as long as possible. Can a few days be a week, can a week be two? It is possible to negotiate a remote-working solution with your company for an extended period?
Longer trips mean less trips & significantly reduces the amount of flights over the course of a year. And longer trips also mean you can spend more time getting to know your holiday destination.
Travel by Train
If there’s an option to travel by train to your holiday destination, take it. Overland journey’s are a wonderful way to see the landscape change & is a particularly awesome way to get around Europe. For example, the journey from London to Girona is a great one, starting with the Eurostar across the rolling green fields of Kent to Paris. From here the TGV heads south to the Mediterranean with views of the Massif Central, and an amazing section of track along the south coast of France. Door to door it’s around 10 hours but it’s a magical way to spend the day & peaceful, stress-free way to start a trip!
It’s not the solution, but it helps if flying to a quick holiday is the only option (which is more realistic for most of us!) The challenge here is to find a great scheme whereby your heard-earned €€ goes directly to great projects which are producing real-world results. There are some awesome projects out there – from tree-planted to clean energy projects. We would love to know your preferred Carbon Offsetting projects so we can start to help our guests to offset their own travel. Let us know via email or in the comments below!
Responsible Cycling Tours
If we’re encouraging our guests to think about their carbon footprints, it’s only right that we apply the same concepts to our tours & bike rental service.
Here’s what we’re doing so far:
- We us recyclable cutlery & plates made from sustainably sourced materials on our tour picnics
- We buy organic & locally produced ride nutrition wherever possible when on tour
- Working with some amazing local hotel & guesthouses who are off-grid or have great environmental policies
- Including fantastic local food producers on our tour itineraries – for example, an organic olive oil maker in Andalucia & a natural wine maker in Empordà
- Recycling stations in our hub, service course & office
- LED lighting in our hub & office
Here are our ideas for what’s next:
- Transition our tour support vehicles to hybrid
- Zero waste tours
- Eat Sleep Cycle jersey made from recycled fabrics
- Eco-packaging & postal service for everything purchased on our online shop
- Offer incentives for those travelling to their holiday by train
- Offer guests the option of offset their flights as a part of their holiday package
- Digital tour handbooks for our guests
- Plan to reduce our energy use
- Plan to reduce our fuel use
As we work on developing our sustainability plan, we would love to hear your ideas & to get your feedback on everything – what do you think? Is there more we can be doing and working towards?
Case Study for Sustainable Tourism: MTB Morocco / All Brother Travel
We work with a special company to deliver our cycling tours in Morocco. They have a very special ethos with is to build a global family of guests who together support the communities they visit whilst cycling in Morocco. We’re taking a huge amount of inspiration from how this small business is run.
Founder Lahcen Errami lives in the village of Imlil and works as a bike guide. He’s built his company around supporting local communities in Morocco & in doing so all of his guests have a unique & authentic experience of his homeland. Here Lahcen shares his insights & values:
I was born in the High Atlas Mountains, in the Imlil valley, 70 km from Marrakech. I have been a guide since childhood – my father took me with him when he worked as a hiking guide. Eventually I had responsibility for my own groups & anytime I took guests into the mountains, I would work on sharing my culture. Then, one day, I guided a group of cyclists from the UK up to Mount Toubkal – the idea of cycling guiding was born! Cyclists are people who understand more about culture, because they travel a lot by bike. I love my bike because it teaches me to be human!
The High Atlas mountains my home and my preferred place to bike. The Atlas are also home to many indigenous tribes living in mud huts scattered along the mountainsides, and even nomadic and semi-nomadic families throughout the valleys. We’ve selected our top picks for biking in this unique destination. Our routes provide a glimpse in to Amazigh (Berber) life as trekkers pass through little mud-hut villages where time seems to stand still.
We make sure our tours support the communities we ride through. There is 2% of the benefits of the tour going direct to the community & sharing in our culture is one of the best ways to give back. Our community needs the world to be one country & for everyone to love each other as family.
My favourite ride in area is from Agouim to Igli, what amazing place to ride and to stay for night under the stars! For the future of tourism in Morocco I want to get more brothers and sisters & build a new world!
Inspired to try to travel sustainably?
We’d love to hear from you! Whether you’d like more advice on how to adapt your travel plans or have some feedback & ideas for us, get in touch!
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