On a boring Sunday, while watching a documentary about climate change, I came up with the idea to calculate how much I have contributed to this phenomenon. As we in AEGEE are all avid travellers, keen on exploring other countries and meeting our friends all over Europe again, I started to calculate how polluting all my flights I ever took actually were.
After some calculations, I found out that I have flown more than 200,000 km already in my life, which is roughly the same as travelling halfway to the moon. In terms of CO2 emission, it is the same as the average South African person emits in five years on all activities.
Seeing the need for change but not wanting to give up my travel habits, I started to think about other ways to travel. Apart from worries about the future of polar bears, there are some other good reasons to consider other means of travel.
Maybe the biggest reason of taking a train or embark on a road trip instead of wasting time in boring terminals which are the same all over the world anyway, is the sense of adventure. You don’t know what will happen on your journey, each travel you have different experiences or might meet interesting new people in the train. Such journeys are also more comfortable. Sitting in a car or having the possibility to stretch your legs or drink a beer in the restaurant car on a train, for sure beats leaving a Ryanair plane completely crippled because of the quality of the seats and lack of leg space.
Do you prefer a window seat in a plane? Why not just take ground transport to really absorb the beautiful scenery Europe has to offer.
Our continent does have some of the most amazing roads and railways that will beat any view from any plane. And doesn’t the prospect of taking an overnight ferry, a train like the Trans Siberian Express or an epic road trip sound more romantic and awe-inspiring than asking someone to go on a 6-hour flight with a budget airliner with you?
And the costs? Even train journeys can be very cheap if booked in advance or when using interrail, and traveling with a group in car or bus can beat any cheap flight. So next time, think about it again and skip the planes, even if it is for only once you are already making a change!
Written by Koen Berghuis, AEGEE-Utrecht
Attention: With the permission of the NetCom this article is re-published in The AEGEEan, after it was previously published in the NetCom Times.