Well, not by speed but still—hear me out.
I just got back from a short trip to the truly stunning Croatian coast where I met a lot of travellers who are interrailing around Europe—hopping from city to city, coast to coast, to experience it all.
A few months back I calculated my carbon footprint for the year (22.2 tonnes). Try it for yourself here. The average US citizen’s is 16.4 tonnes. I’m British, and we average at about 14 tonnes. I was pretty shocked actually—I don’t eat meat or dairy, I live in London so I don’t drive a car, I recycle diligently. But I fly a lot, more than average apparently, and every time I board a plane, I’m adding millions of particles of carbon dioxide and other nasties to my contribution in this world.
It got me thinking that maybe we should all have a carbon budget like we have a financial budget—a set amount of carbon we’re allowed to contribute each year before we run out and have to turn off the lights.
I know a lot of people who have begun abstaining from flying altogether this summer—a Flight Strike, if you like. As I said, the train alternative is already easy and pretty popular in Europe. But it’s a small place with a lot packed in and a well-established rail network.
Luckily, train travel is improving worldwide and there are sites that are making it easier. Seat61.com, for example, lets you choose any country and any bit of info you need to know. Groups like this host masses of information with the goal of making it accessible. Campaigns are growing too: A Pledge To Fly Less and FlightFree 2020 offer support and incentives to businesses cutting air travel, and the Netherlands are lobbying for higher EU air taxation and a change in governing to make flying a less attractive option.
Here are 4 ways trains beat planes
- Comfier: Long journeys are brilliant, fun, and colourful. Overnight trains can get you from A to B and all you have to do is sleep—and for sure it’s much easier to sleep in a sleeper carriage than in an airport or airplane seat.
- Cheaper: In some countries, train tickets are ridiculously cheap. In most, there are discounts that just don’t exist for air travellers.
- Easier: There is no arriving early for a 2-hour wait, and delays are really much rarer. And you can take as much baggage as you can carry without the stress of a last-minute charge!
- Better Views!: We all love a good road trip—staring out the window, watching the world. Earlier this year I was in Sri Lanka and took a train that is said by many to be one of the most stunning you can see—they were right.
A carbon budget may seem like another restriction we apply to ourselves for the betterment of the planet, but our carbon budgets don’t have to restrict us completely from doing the things we love. Our brains release dopamine when we experience new things, so we shouldn’t deny ourselves of this. Travel is key for many people to appreciate and look after this planet.To love and care about something, it is important to understand and connect to it—we want to protect and conserve all those places we’ve been to. We all just have to get savvier with the impact of our spending.
What are your thoughts on travelling the world? Does it always have to mean flying?
Latest posts by Laura Louise (see all)
- Why Trains are Catching Up with Planes this Summer - August 28, 2019