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Staycation diaries: Your Covid-safe climate-friendly holidays

It’s been a strange summer to say the least! With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting how and when we travel (if at all), many of us have had to re-think our summer travel plans.

However, fear not! It’s not all bad. In fact, with more and more of us now choosing to “staycation” and holiday in the UK, we’re seeing the positive environmental impact.

As we rack up fewer air miles, we are also reducing our carbon emissions and helping to protect the environment. So it’s a win all round really!

With lots of beautiful spots around the UK, we reached out to staff and supporters and found out where you holidayed this summer.

Take a look and perhaps get some holiday inspiration of your own!


Emily Wight: A family affair in Stratford-upon-Avon

Since lockdown, I’d only briefly seen my brother– and at a distance. Wanting to spend more time together, we therefore decided to go away together for the weekend.

He lives in Liverpool, and I’m in London, so we decided to pick somewhere between us on the map and go there for a weekend. We thought Stratford-upon-Avon would be a good bet.

I studied literature at Warwick University so used to go to Stratford for student-priced theatre. But, I sadly hadn’t got to experience the lovely town in the daytime. So, we headed off for a little staycation here in the UK!

The weather wasn’t completely rain-free, so we mooched around charity shops and cafés. Despite suffering greatly due to lockdown, like all arts and heritage sites, Shakespeare’s birthplace – the house he was born in, the lovely garden and a small museum about his life and his work – had just re-opened.

They were incredibly careful with physical distancing. One of their staff told me they used to welcome 1,500 visitors a day but have now been forced to scale back to 350. Once government support runs out, I’m not sure how they’ll manage, but the fact that they’d opened their doors again provided a real boost for me at a gloomy time.

It almost made me forget that we are in a global pandemic…

We stayed in an Air B&B bang in central Stratford which for two nights was fine. From here we were able to go to restaurants and all the other places around the town. We went to a gastropub for dinner on the Saturday night which served delicious food.

Overall it was a lovely weekend. For me, just getting out of London was really refreshing after spending so long tied to my desk in my room!

I’m next going to the Peak District and am hoping to do another trip in September, perhaps to somewhere in Wales.


Billy Zafar: A very Scottish stag do

I fundamentally believe that awesome holidays are not just about where you go but who you take with you! And this is why my recent lads’ trip to Scotland turned out to be a blast!

I went away with my friends for my stag do, so we were definitely looking to have fun. With the Covid-19 pandemic, we were expecting some of the fun to be ruined. However, I can proudly say that this wasn’t the case!

We still managed to do the majority of things that we had planned to such as kayaking, hiking up Ben Nevis and fishing in Loch Ness. Luckily all these activities are based in remote countryside areas so our plans continued without any disruption.

The break away was such a fun experience that I decided only a week later to go to London for five days. London is literally down the road from me (the M1) however since I’m spending it with my new wife, I am certain the trip away will be great!


Abdulla Almamun: A picturesque visit in the Peak District

We were very fortunate to book our lovely holiday home in the Peak District early so we had somewhere fabulous to stay. The place had wonderful amenities including a swimming pool and was located near the local village. Of course, we also got to enjoy a lovely picturesque view!

The best part of any staycation I think is the peace and quiet you feel when you are out in the countryside: full silence, no sirens or loud noises like here in London. You actually feel the difference in the air. With such beauty, the whole landscape is breathtaking!

Vacationing with my family, I was the designated breakfast maker which I enjoyed.

As we weren’t sure about the availability of halal food in the area, we brought an ice cooler full of tasty things to eat! This of course meant that we could enjoy an amazing Saturday evening BBQ. Delicious!

Out and about, the walks and hikes were incredible. We walked up the water stream by Wyming Brook nature reserve on a wet day. Seeing the water flowing down, heating the sounds of the rapids and taking in the peace around us, it honestly could not have been a more perfect setting (although I do prefer dry and hot climates!).

Overall, I can definitely recommend the Peak District with its lush green fields full of sheep and cows roaming free. And of course, not to mention the various hikes and activity on offer. It’s a must-visit!


Umar Gaffur: A trip for the whole family to Windsor

Before Covid-19 struck, I promised to take my family abroad. However, after doing a lot of research on quarantine times, travel bridges and the dreaded R rate, I decided it would be better to stay right here in the UK.

And that’s exactly what we did! We decided to go to LEGOLAND in the UK and stayed there for just under a week. What made it even better was that since lockdown restrictions had eased, the grandparents could also come along.

There was plenty for the children to do such as go on rides, play sports and visit shows and rather pleasantly there was lots for the adults to do too given the local history of the area. In fact, we even visited Windsor Castle one afternoon.

In the end, I learnt that it doesn’t take much to keep children happy and not only did we save a lot of money but this getaway turned out to be one of our best holidays ever. This was largely because there was little to worry about – no difficult air travel or wading through security, no desperate hunting for halal food and no tired hungry screaming children.

My verdict: when planning a holiday with lots of children, it’s much easier and more fulfilling to stay in the UK both for the children and your own sanity!


Judith Escribano: Swapping Spain for Margate Sands

As you would expect from my surname, I have Spanish relatives. Every Easter or summer holiday, my children and I visit my sister’s family in the north of Spain.

We also have family in Denmark and Sweden, so guiltily travel quite a lot by air. Luckily, my energy supplier provides a service whereby I offset my carbon emissions by recording how many journeys I take by plane, train and tube and then contributing towards green projects.

This year we decided it would be too risky to travel overseas, but we still wanted a holiday after spending so much time at home. I don’t drive, so I needed to find a location that we could easily reach by public transport and then once we were there, somewhere we could move around easily by foot.

Based in London, the ideal destination was Kent and we optimistically chose Margate hoping we’d be on the beach nearly every day. Of course, the British weather put paid to that – one day, it was so windy that we had to get off the beach because the sand was hurting our legs!

But there was enough to do apart from spending time on the beach: we went for a long walk along the seafront; we played outdoor crazy golf; we played indoor crazy golf! We spent time in the arcades on the faithful two-penny drop machines (inflation since I was a kid!) and we visited Margate Caves and the Shell Grotto.

Luckily my boys are old enough to be left alone, so I was also able to visit the Turner Contemporary Museum and the vintage shops on my own – they didn’t want to come and I didn’t want them moaning alongside me!

Would I holiday again in the UK? Yes. But I also miss my family in Spain, Sweden and Denmark So once this is over, I am likely to fly out to them again – offsetting my carbon emissions as I do!


Fight Covid-19 and climate change: 3 simple steps

Alhamdulillah, it’s great to see that whilst international travel may be fun, it’s not essential when looking for a great get-away.

Taking a staycation has allowed lots of people across the UK to take a break and stay Covid-safe as much as possible, reducing transmission rates across international borders. However, it doesn’t end there. With less international travel, we can also lower our usual rate of carbon emissions at the same time. An overall success we think!

So, as restrictions ease and we look to visit new places and build new experiences, let’s not forget the alarming rate of climate change and work to protect the planet.

It’s easy to make simple, effective changes. Here’s how:

  • Cut air pollution: If you’re normally a fan of holidays abroad, why not take a road trip across Europe instead of flying or going that little bit further? Or, even better, plan a staycation somewhere in the UK! With many beautiful destinations such as the Scottish Highlands, Lake District and Cornwall, there’s lots to see and explore!
  • Keep waste to a minimum: Rather than spending lots on eating out and bulking up on plastic take-out containers, make your own picnics or cook a delicious meal in your newly rented bungalow/chalet or even tent for a tasty yet more environmentally-friendly holiday
  • Save spending for the trip: We all like to a bit of pre-holiday shopping to ensure we’re stocked up and looking our best. However, fast fashion is quickly destroying the planet. By switching from buying new clothes to saving the pennies for a lovely meal or trip somewhere green, you’ll have more spending money whilst protecting the environment too!
  • Offset your carbon emissions: Find a green energy supplier that uses energy from renewable sources AND which provides you with the means to offset your carbon emissions when you travel
  • Take action with The Time is Now Declaration: Sign this declaration calling on the PM to take urgent action on climate change, pushing for a healthy, green and fair future. #TheTimeIsNow to take action. Act now before it’s too late – and don’t forget to mention Islamic Relief when you sign so we can keep in touch!

So, from everyone at Islamic Relief, look after the planet and yourselves. Stay safe and happy holidays!

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