Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel the world with a difference. We hope to get a taste of loads of countries without adding to climate change (with needless emissions from aeroplanes) or having to waste hours of holiday time in airport terminals. We hope our adventures inspire you to take a Grand Tour of your neighbourhood. This post is from Nicola.
Just before Lola (now eight) got her first tooth getting around the UK was a simple decision - you drove. Students used coaches or railcards. Heroics cycled. Trains had moments in and out of fashion. Plus there were boats to visit neighbours on the island of Ireland, the Isle of Man, France etc. Then came staggeringly cheap plane travel and the mini break, begun and ended in an airport terminal.
Exciting as taking a trip by plane may seem to be, it is terrible for the environment that you can now fly from London to Cornwall, Birmingham to Cardiff or Manchester to Glasgow for pocket money prices. Even short trips can rack up half a tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
At the moment aviation's CO2 emissions are rising because millions of us can't resist planes for mini-hols. The tickets are cheap as chips because the Government allows the aviation industry #9 billion in tax breaks (think what you could do with that if you ran the country!). Although the Government says it is keen to tackle climate change, bafflingly it has refused to add aviation pollution into the basket of carbon dioxide emissions that could be cut. That’s why you can read a newspaper story telling you about the extinctions and major changes to habitats and weather patterns that climate change will bring… but still see an advert on the facing page from an aviation company with another fare for a tenner or less.
It’s not just the carbon dioxide emissions that are the problem. Both Pete and I grew up not far from Stansted Airport in Essex and know how noisy planes can be if you want to sleep later than sparrow-fart or talk to a friend in the garden.
We like travelling, but think it is best to resist plane temptations – especially don’t try to kid yourself that as a flight is going anyway, it really doesn’t matter if you swell the passenger list by just one more. That's because practically any long haul return flight will double the amount of carbon dioxide emissions your household creates in a year.
WAY TO GO: Here’s a few ideas to help you succeed with next year’s plane-free resolution. For Europe try using Eurostar – it’s so glamorous, and there’s often 2 for 1 ticket deals. You can find out how to get across Europe on train using an inspiring website like http://www.seat61.com/. Or how about booking longer holidays so you don’t get tempted to take two or three return flights when you could just take one? Now that's what I call temptation...