Care to learn a secret? Here at This Tiny Life, we’re unabashedly anti-airplane. It’s fair to say that although planes have revolutionised the world we live in, they also have plenty of drawbacks which are rarely expounded. Similarly, the benefits of not flying aren’t given enough time and attention. But relax – we’re not here to convince you to stop travelling. Travel is something we’re all about, and it’s possible to live your life and get around without taking to the skies. We’ve given up flying in all but the most exceptional circumstances, choosing more sustainable travel options instead. Here’s 5 reasons why we think you should do the same:
Let’s start off with the most important reason of all: saving our pale blue dot. While we’re all about living free and travelling, doing it in a sustainable way is critical. Estimates show we may have as little as 11 years left to drastically reduce our carbon emissions, if we’re to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Although planes are becoming more fuel-efficient, these gains are often wiped out by the increases in passenger numbers every year. Planes have become normalised to the point where they are sometimes even used for frivolous or trivial purposes. It’s time we recognised that air travel should be used for only the most essential reasons – there are plenty of other ways to travel that are not only sustainable, but also more fun. Speaking of which…
When did flying become such a hassle? Getting to the airport three hours early, fighting the crowds, getting poked and prodded through security, paying over the odds for second rate coffee… okay, you get the point! It seems like everyone’s worst travel horror story involves flying. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A lot of the hassle that accompanies air travel simply isn’t an issue with overland transportation. If you’re on a bus or a train, 99% of the time you simply buy your ticket, board, and sit back. While it might be a long time to sit back compared to air travel (we’ll cover this in point 4), seriously – how easy is that!?
Although flying can be the cheapest option for long journeys, it’s often non-competitive for shorter ones. Travel not just within your state but also between states is usually cheaper by bus or train. And while there are always companies out there offering super low air fares, try and think about the value of what you’re getting too. Low cost carriers earn their crust by offering crappy seats, expensive food, hidden charges, and zero perks.
By contrast, the offerings on a bus or train tend to be standardised and won’t vary much between carriers. You’re almost guaranteed to get decent legroom, a power outlet and some WiFi. So even if the plane is cheaper, ask yourself if what you’re getting is really worth it.
The Gift Of Time
Okay, so travelling overland takes longer than a plane – for all but the shortest journeys. You’ve got us there, airplanes. 1-0. But it’s time to flip the script. While many see the speed of air travel as an advantage, we think the opposite… who the hell has time for a quick flight?
Whether it’s by road or rail, long journeys give you the gift of time. So what if you’re spending 8 hours on a train? That’s 8 hours you can use for anything you want, whether it’s catching up on work emails, writing a novel, or bingeing your favourite show. When was the last time you had 8 hours of pure you-time? Our favourite tactic is to book an overnight bus or train. Not only does sleeping through the journey make it seem shorter, but you save the cost of a night’s accommodation too! Maximising savings of both time and money seems like a no-brainer.
It’s easy to tell who’s a first-time flyer on a plane – they’re the ones who are awestruck, with their heads glued to a window. Someone who’s flown even a few times before is more likely to have their window shade down and their head glued to a phone. Although being above the clouds is exciting, it’s surprising how quickly the novelty wears off for many. Once you’ve taken off, there’s not a whole lot to see from 30,000 feet.
Back on the ground, though, it’s a very different story. Travelling overland lets you experience a vast, beautiful and endlessly inspiring landscape. Train journeys, in particular, are romanticised for the spectacular views they offer. And rightly so – the California Zephyr is considered one of the most beautiful journeys in America. We can’t speak to that point, having not done them all. But we certainly enjoyed it a lot more than any flight when we did it (review coming soon!). There’s a lot to see on our beautiful planet – why miss it all by flying?
Ready To Book That Rail Pass Yet?
Well, that’s it for this week folks. We hope you enjoyed this read, and most importantly we hope you’ll consider ditching flights in favour of sustainable travel in future. If you like this sort of thing, check out the rest of our blog to see what else we’ve been up to. Until next time.