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Making 2020 a No Fly Year

As I’ve become increasingly eco conscious, I can no longer ignore the huge carbon footprint produced by flying. So I reluctantly started to consider having a ‘no fly 2020’. Although thankfully I found the more I looked into it, the more I started to love the idea!

Flying Has a Huge Carbon Footprint

In the past year I’ve done a lot of research into how to reduce my impact on the planet, and I began to realise just how bad flying is for the environment. I got brave and I decided to calculate the carbon footprint of my return flight to the Philippines earlier this year and it wasn’t pretty.

This was the result:

Carbon Footprint Calculator for Flight from Manchester to Cebu in the Philippines

As you can see – JUST with my ONE flight to Philippines alone – I’ve exceeded what I should be consuming to help reduce climate change by a LONG way. I dread to think how many tonnes of carbon I will have used this year if I add my flights to New York and Belgium, my car usage, meat consumption, heat etc. I would definitely exceed even the average annual amount of CO2 generated by a single person in Europe. Oh crap!

But I’m Addicted to Travel

Initially I couldn’t even begin to consider reducing my long haul flights. Since Jamie and I got together in 2015 – travelling has been such an important and exciting part of our lives – we’ve been to the Philippines, Goa, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Italy – it’s been wonderful. And we’ve got a huge list of other places we want to get to. It felt like a huge sacrifice.

Could we Make a No Fly Year an Exciting Travel Adventure?

But then I started considering ways of having exciting adventures without flying. Because ultimately – it’s the sense of adventure that I get in these exotic countries that really makes my holidays special.

What About Interrailing? That Would Be Quite an Experience!

I recently read a fabulous article by my friend Cathy Toogood about her three week inter railing trip with her young family. The pictures I’d seen her post on Instagram of Swiss and Italian mountains and lakes were spectacular, and then reading her article filled me in on all the juicy and fun details of the holiday. I found myself rather fancying the idea of inter railing. And all of sudden a no fly year was an even more attractive prospect.

Cathy Toogood and children in front of train in Europe.
Cathy Toogood took her young family interrailing for 3 weeks

What Other Interesting Ways Could We Explore The World Without Flying?

Then Jamie and I started bouncing ideas around – what would satisfy our wonderlust but wouldn’t involve flying? Hiking in Ireland? Cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats? Getting a train to Croatia? Or how about train & boat to Morocco? Once we’d injected a bit of challenge and imagination into our outlook, suddenly lots of interesting options seemed possible.

Bridge in Porto, Portugal.
The fabulous trip we took to Portugal last year could easily have been done by train.

What About Family Trips to Belgium?

To be honest – after all that brainstorming I’m now not phased by the idea of no fly holidays. Maybe a campervan drive around Scotland and a cycling trip around the Netherlands for 2020 – I could easily get my head around that. What I’m less keen on are the family trips to Belgium without flying. Visiting my lovely elderly aunts (Jessy, 84 and Betty, 96) is kind of hard work at the best of times (much as I adore them). And the quick flight (£35 return) from Manchester airport makes life a lot easier.

Katya Willems with her 96 year old aunt Betty.
96 year old aunt Betty

Focussing on The Pros

As it turns out – going via Eurostar will be a nine and half hour journey door to door. And by plane it’s a seven hour journey, so time wise, it’s comparatively not bad. And there’s other bonuses – I won’t have to get up at 5.30am to get the early flight and I hate Brussels Charleloi airport with a passion – so I’ll avoid that horror.

But my goodness the difference in price is a shocker. Eurostar and train fare to London will cost me £176 return compared £35 by plane. Which when I’m going twice a year starts to add up. But to focus on the positive – I think in the modern world we’ve got used to unrealistically cheap travel – and perhaps we should get used to paying properly for our journeys abroad. It might make us appreciate them more.

I’m also looking forward to all the scenery from the train and having a clear sense of actually travelling. Much better than feeling claustrophobic in airports and planes.

I’m Feeling Good About My No Fly 2020

It’s certainly not going to be a walk in the park, this no fly 2020. It’s going to be annoying to figure out the logistics and it’s going to be expensive too. But I’m embracing the challenge and the sense of adventure it brings with it. And I like the idea that it will force me to slow down and not expect everything too quickly and cheaply in my life. That’s the Amazon Prime/On Demand culture that we’ve all become dependent on – but fast and cheap doesn’t always leave you feeling good. And it certainly doesn’t leave our planet in a good state. So here’s to my wholesome, feel good no fly 2020!

If you enjoyed reading this, you might like to try: Hello! Any Chance We Can Have a Chat About The Environment That Doesn’t Involve Guilt And Sacrifice? Can We Make It Fun And Exciting Please?

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