Hit the Decks, Family Traveller
Most parents have at least once disembarked from an aeroplane with kids (possibly covered in sick) vowing never to do it again. It’s not just being confined in an aluminium tube several miles high with the most hyperactive beings you’ve ever known that wears you down; it’s also the unrelenting faff of transfers, airports, security and a pricing system that means you have to leave home well before the crack of dawn.
There’s a more profound reason to put the brakes on flying, too; air travel contributes over 800 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year, 2.5 per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions. One return flight from London to Sydney emits about half the average person’s annual carbon footprint. So, if we really want to make a difference to climate change and halt impending doom, the best thing we can do
is kick our jet setting ways.
Thankfully, this doesn’t mean putting an end to holidays, but it does mean appreciating the art of slow travel. When travelling overland, trains are the big environmental winners — the train from London to Paris is 91 per cent less polluting than jumping on a plane. Coach travel follows in second place, and next comes ferry transport, which becomes much better for the environment when combined with trains and bikes. Although statistics are vague, the UK government estimates that ferry travel emits a third of the carbon emissions of flying per passenger.
Ferry crossings are also full of adventure. Whatever your age, there’s something intrepid about waving goodbye to a shoreline and heading out into the open seas. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot dolphins and seabirds, keen geographers can piece together the world map, and, if that sounds a little optimistic, there are games rooms, soft play, table tennis and cinemas to fill the hours. If nothing else, it’s a joy to load up the car with all the holidaying paraphernalia imaginable and not be charged extra for the pleasure.