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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A travel dilemma - can you help?

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. But what happens when your family say there's no option but to fly? This post is by Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about books and blogs).   Pic - yes it is of ducks (now with us for 3 weeks). They need to grow their wings. We humans need wings too.

My daughter is presenting me with a lot of big world problems. She's been invited on a school trip to Spain (flying there and back). And now a friend has invited her to stay in their apartment in Spain, at a different time (but it involves two flights as well). If I decide not to think about the financial cost - and instead focus on the opportunity, then she's an amazingly lucky girl, with a good selection of friends and a forward thinking school.

But if I think about the carbon costs, I'm in an utter dilemma because she must not go, at least not by plane. Flying has to be kept to the minimum, and ideally not done. See why in this learned report on low carbon travel from Sustrans.

I have allowed myself to be talked into the school trip - it's all to do with learning the language. But I feel wretched about it.

Her age luckily saves me this year from being evil mum and saying no to the friend's invite (or good citizen and saying no, depending on how you look at it) because the airline doesn't allow unaccompanied minors (ie, under 14s) to fly with it. There's something to praise EasyJet for!

Over to you
What would you do in a situation like this? It seems so simple - say no. Actually I have looked up the London-Madrid rail cost to see if I could take a merry jaunt across Europe to pick her up, but it's very expensive without having pre-booked by two months or more. However if you are organised, or one day wish to be, and can imagine travelling cheaply across Europe by train then start getting to know the maninseat61 because it's FAQs are better than anyones.

6 comments:

nicolabairduk said...

From Adam: We haven’t flown for years and years and I don’t want to be. I don’t feel too bad about them taking the odd trip. However, I think the schools should be going for the low carbon option. It’s so easy to get to the French Alps by train now that really there’s no excuse. And Spain is not impossible - we did overnight to Barcelona a couple of years ago and the ferry to Santander is a gas."

Karin said...

I can see this must be very difficult for you for someone like yourself, Nicola. I think you count as pretty dark green and you clearly stick by your principles, but . . .

First of all your daughter is developing into a young woman with her own ideas - hopefully she will have taken all your ideas and beliefs on board - but she has to make her own mind up and it is hard for a young girl not to do the same things her friends do and have the same opportunities. We live in a world with aeroplanes where time is often tight. Most people don't have the time to travel by train if the destination is more than a few hours away.

Now you have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of such decisions with your daughter, teaching her valuable lessons for the future, but I think it's best to let her make her own decisions on these matters after you've done that, otherwise she could end up resenting everything you stand for and have brought her up to believe. This is a very tricky time for the parent-teen relationship.

I don't think all airlines have the same policy, unless things have changed in the last 9 years - my son decided he was going to fly to Spain to see a girl he'd met when he was 14 and he had enough money from his paper round to buy the ticket so he just told us he was going - no discussion!

nicolabairduk said...

From Penny (facebook)
I would let her go. Children need to make their own choices about religion. Your ideas are your religion. You can guide and even indoctrinate but in the end, the choice is hers. I would send her by plane and work on getting her an escort. When is it? If its in the summer, might fit in with our plans?

nicolabairduk said...

In reply to Karin - such wise advice. I haven't yet got the right intuition as to how to handle teens & need to think this through v carefully (and with my partner, and with the girls). But I'm in awe of your son and his ability at 14 to pay for and organise a trip to see his friend in Spain. What an empowering mum you are/have been and were! I hope I can be the same.

nicolabairduk said...

From Facebook:
Annie: "L. has had so many amazing experiences thanks to you, and is growing into such a fabulous young woman. I partly agree with Penny about letting her make her own choices, but it's still your money, and besides, the shortness of the jaunts is part of the problem. I actually think it's okay to say NO, in the knowledge that you -- you in particular Nicola --are giving her the skills and experience to have really fantastic, exciting, and self-expanding travel experiences for the rest of her life-- ie, because you choose not to fly, you are giving her something even better. As an outsider, I see that very clearly. ps, and try myself to emulate with my family."

Nicola "However fast children allegedly grow up it worries me that people think a 13yo is responsible enough to get to and from an unknown country in a not very well understood language just because you can do it by plane. I really didn't even try this until I was 18, and I found it quite frightening even then (europe inter-railiing, working in the US and then the hardest - russia). I think our family is lucky not having much spare cash as Lola understands that kind of decision. Thank you for adding not just a new angle, but some confidence to my gut instincts. While it's my cash it is my decision."

nicolabairduk said...

More from Facebook:
Penny "I did it at 15 by car with my 19 year old friends. We got to south of Spain. And I went on planes alone to the US to visit my dad from age 10. But then in the 70s we played in the street unaccompanied from the moment we could ride a bike.

Karin "I think I was 12 when I was put on a ferry to Le Havre by my parents and met there by my French penfriend and her parents. I did this several times over the years but I didn't do anything more adventurous until I was 20 and went by ferry and train to Germany to be a language assistant."

Nicola Baird "Yes, interesting conversation. It is ever so easy to fly a child unaccompanied because it's kind of door2door. As Annie is pointing out young people need more skills than that, and those are learnt iteratively and by ever-widening experience where they live. For you Penny there was the complication of love miles having to be covered else I guess you wouldn't have seen your dad."