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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
How to holiday without sinning
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

Plane wing
Committing a sin?
Flying abroad for a holiday is a sin against the planet, according to a leading bishop. So how do you go away without incurring the wrath of the Church?

Like stealing and adultery, choosing to fly has moral consequences because of its effect on the environment, says the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres.

"Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes," he says in the Sunday Times. "It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions."

With about 2.1 million people estimated to have flown out of the UK at the weekend for the start of the school holidays, that's a lot of people in the Church's bad books.

But if you think you can't get much further than Calais without flying, think again. Here are five ways to holiday and maintain the moral high ground.


Always championed as the green alternative to other gas-guzzling modes of transport, the bike is a virtuous way to travel.

Jilly Goolden and Oz Clarke
A bicycle made for two
And using a bike need not restrict where you go or who with, just take a look at the Tandem Adventures website. Devoted to tandem-based rides which cover long distances, it includes reports on a 10,000 mile tandem journey from Beijing and London.

Dave Mountain, who did the 10,000 trip with Bronwen Ley, says riding a tandem is the ideal way of getting out with a partner and sticking together.

"You reach the top of a hill together - not one of you stood at the top waiting whilst the other puffs and pants their way up. If you get lost, you get lost together. If you get a puncture it's a problem for both of you."

The bikes can also be adapted to carry children. A family of four can easily be accommodated on a tandem with the help of kiddy cranks, tag-alongs or child-backs. If you sit up front you can even call yourself the Pilot or Captain.

But bikes aren't cheap to buy. A new tandem costs in the region of 2,000. To hire, they're around 25 a day.

Ratings out of 10
Cost: 3/10. Not cheap, especially if you buy
Convenience: 9/10. You decide where and when you go
Fun: 5/10. Depends on fitness and the weather


The sight of hundreds of steel containers is not the nicest way to start a holiday, but a cargo ship can get you to most destinations. As it is a working ship, the fuel would have been used if you were on the ship or not so you're not putting any additional strain on the environment.

Your travelling companions
Trips on cargo ships range from a 120-day round-the-world option from Tilbury in Essex via the Panama Canal, Tahiti and New Zealand to five days from Southampton to Malta.

While the accommodation may not be five star, most ships offer facilities like swimming pools and some of the cabins on the newer vessels are actually suites with a separate dayroom and bedroom.

You can expect to pay around 70 a day, including food and accommodation, according to The Cruise People. For shorter trips it can be a cost-effective way to travel but for longer holidays you need to be both cash and time rich. You should also be prepared for schedule changes.

Ratings out of 10
Cost: 2/10. A long trip will not be a bargain
Convenience: 3/10. It's the cargo that's the priority, not you
Fun: 7/10. It will be an adventure but you could be roughing it a bit


Why not treat your own home as a hotel, put your feet up and use the holiday fund to hire staff to do everything for you. You can hire a butler for around 40 an hour and for just 10 more he can even be naked - a service provided by Be My Butler.

If you don't want to look at the same four walls, rent somewhere in your own town or city for a week. Pat Duggleby lives in York and last Christmas rented a penthouse flat in the city for a week-long holiday.

Susanna Beves, from Worcestershire, has even taken a holiday in a caravan in her own back garden. "We put it behind some trees so we were out of view of the house," she says.

Christina Gladwin, near Sheffield, went a step further when she stayed at home for her holiday. "We did a world tour from home," she says. "We decided to pretend to be in a different country each day of the week. We didn't do everyday things and that's what made it a holiday."

Ratings out of 10
Cost: 6/10. Depends on how much pampering you crave
Convenience: 10/10. It's based around your own home
Fun: 8/10... if you opt for the naked butlers


Some 55% of adults chose the British Isles for a relaxing break last year, according to a recent report from Thomas Cook. Resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton and Torquay are proving more than a match for Spain, France and Italy.

JCB digger
Hours of fun
And the UK is full of enough hidden attractions to easily fill two weeks, from JCB rides at Diggerland to museums devoted entirely to barometers or lawnmowers.

"The key is to have a holiday inside your head, where your attitude changes. Go somewhere that might look unusual and look for the joy in it," says Joel Morris, co-author of Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out - a compendium of Britain's lesser known tourist attractions.

Holidays in the UK can be done on a budget but research suggests the cost of a summer stay in a hotel or holiday camp is on a par with popular Mediterranean destinations.

Ratings out of 10
Cost: 5/10. Probably the same as flying off to the sun
Convenience: 9/10. You speak the language and like the food
Fun: 8/10. Diggerland... come on


Whether it's on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway narrow-gauge railway or the Orient Express, there is a train to suit everyone's requirements.

Orient Express
Real luxury
A luxury trip can be a step into a different world, the romantic age of travel when getting there was as much fun as arriving. The Royal Scotsman even boasts an open veranda.

If you have a real passion, you can work on a train. Volunteers help out on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway narrow-gauge railway in Cumbria, for many it is their annual holiday.

Ratings out of 10
Cost: 7/10. As little or as much as you want
Convenience: 7/10. There is a timetable but you don't have to lift a finger on the journey
Fun: 7/10... unless you're a train spotter.

And how much of a sin is it to remove the trade that tourist destinations often depend upon? Even a lot of first world cities are heavily dependent on the tourist business and if we stop travelling to these places will their citizens stop travelling to us? Whilst agreeing that maybe jetting off every weekend isn't good for the environment I think we could lose more by not travelling both in terms of trade and also in understanding other countries and cultures.
Pauline, Cupar, Scotland

I think the Bish is right after all motorists have been hounded over emissions for years now. Rather than treat the matter lightly the BBC should have at least been able to give us some figures for the pollution levels the average flight to Spain for example produces.
Scarlet, London

Will this mean that the Church will now give up on flying missonaries around the world to convert the "ignorant heathens" to the wonders of Christianity and that the clergy will cease jetting off on their holidays.
Peter Dobson, Earls Barton, England

If we lived our lives in fear of upsetting the church then life would be positively boring. Why is it that the church expects us to change our lifestyles to suit their ideals and beliefs when they would not change theirs to accomidate others. The church should not have the power to change anything from music, film or even the way we travel. It is a home for those who believe in a 2000 year old work of fiction, not a governing or law enforcing agency. Get Real!
Lewis, Portsmouth

There are several websites where you can purchase "CO2 offsets" to counter the negative environmental effects of your flights, home, car etc. The organisations invest in sustainable energy projects. I have just bought my friend a CO2 offset for her wedding from climatecare.org, it offsets emissions for 150 guests and the honeymoon flights. So you can holiday guilt free!
Anna Barker, Tooting, London

We need a carbon neutral/non-carbon method of fast transport. Nuclear powered aircraft were tried and discarded in the 1960's (by the US Military). I guess that leaves Hydrogen. The Government should be funding research into making Hydrogen safe enough for air travel now!
Dave A, Bristol

I think if the Bishop looks at most current environmental problems he will find that the biggest issue facing us is overpopulation and seeing that its his church that says "go forth and multiply" I suggest he gets his own house in order before he starts telling the rest of us what is right and wrong.
Cheezee, Montrose

Oh great, the church is getting involved. That's sure to attract a reasonable and balanced viewpoint then.
Ben, Horley

Whatever happened to the camping holiday? Cost: 10/10 - a decent tent doesn't cost the earth these days, camping can be free or maybe a few pounds a night. Convenience: 7/10 - you can go pretty much anywhere in the country, but all the camping gear can be a bit bulky to transport. Fun: 6/10 - fresh air, beautiful countryside, outdoor cooking ... but wind and rain can be big spoilers!
Joel Lewis, London, Uk

Flying on holiday is a sin but naked butlers aren't?
Owen, London

Does the Bishop drive a car?
Dee, Sheffield

As an atheist I do not believe in sin, but messing up the environment is short-sighted and selfish. I have not flown for over 9 years. The Government should tax fuel and tickets so that more sustainable methods of travel become more attractive.
Laurence Mann, Twickenham, UK

Can I continue to sin in peace? I quite enjoy it.
Jordan Dias, London/Edinburgh, UK

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