My Favourite Holiday Cottages is keen to encourage people not to fly to their holidays whether in the UK or further field. That's why we support the Flight Free UK campaign which encourages people to pledge not to fly for a whole year.
Some of the most beautiful corners of the UK are nowhere within easy reach of an airport, but easily accessible by car or train. And in any case, why be responsible for dumping an extra tonne or two of CO2 into the atmosphere when you fly, when there are so many friendlier alternatives to holidaying by plane?
A Whole year without flying: Just think of the places you can go!
We invited Anna Hughes, Director of Flight Free UK to explain why it's not just important to cut back on flying, but absolutely essential in the race to cool the earth.
Flight Free UK is a behaviour change campaign that encourages people to fly less. We run the flight free 2020 pledge, asking people to take a year off flying, and are aiming for 100,000 people to make the pledge.
We Brits love to fly – in fact, UK residents fly more than any other nation. And while most people would not respond to a request never to fly again, setting it as a challenge for a set period of time gives people the chance to break a habit and see what life without flying is really like. This is partly about collective action – we often feel that, as individuals, our actions don’t make a difference, so we don't bother trying. But it’s also about shifting the norm away from flying.
It’s essential that we move away from fossil fuels if we are to have a sustainable future. Most people are growing more aware of the carbon impact of their diets, energy use, clothing and transport, but awareness and action remains low when it comes to flying. Those of us who do the recycling and eat less meat perhaps feel that we're doing enough. But a single flight can wipe out all the savings made through other areas. For example, giving up your car might save 2.6 tonnes of CO2 per year – but fly to LA and you’ve topped that. By switching to a plant-based diet, you’ll save roughly 1 tonne – and you can blow all that good C02-reducing work away on a single flight to Cyprus.
The good news is, not flying doesn’t mean not travelling. There are many other ways to get around, which are far lower carbon. Train travel can be up to 90% lower in emissions than flying; coach travel has around a 70% reduction. Ferries can also significantly lower your emissions. We are so lucky living in the UK: the whole of Europe is on our doorstep, and rail connections mean we can quickly and easily travel long distances in a way that is much more enjoyable and relaxing than flying.
But of course, we don't have to travel abroad to have a holiday at all. There are a huge number of destinations under our noses here in the UK. Scotland and Wales have some of the most breathtaking scenery in the whole of Europe, and Devon and Cornwall have long been popular spots for a beach holiday. More than that, there is a real value in slowing down and appreciating what is on our doorstep, rather than constantly wishing to be somewhere else.
It’s easy to be seduced by cheap prices and short flight times when we want a quick getaway. But it’s not always cheaper to fly, especially when you've added all the ‘extras’. And it’s certainly not much quicker, especially short-haul: for domestic travel, you can at least double the advertised flight time once you factor in time spent in transfers, check-in and baggage claim.
There is a lot that the government can do to make the structural changes that we so desperately need, in order to make it easier for people to choose sustainable transport. There is currently no tax on aviation fuel, which makes it a falsely cheap way to travel, something that definitely needs to change.
But we shouldn't underestimate our power as consumers. The decisions we make about how we travel and how we spend our money can have an impact upon the industry, as demonstrated by rail revival on the continent, and a 9% drop in domestic air travel in some countries.
So could you be one of the 100,000 to take a flight-free year? We have many inspiring stories of people who have taken the pledge on our website. It is a small thing for many of us, to take one year off flying, but something that can make a huge difference for us and the generations to come.
Pledge here: flightfree.co.uk
Anna Hughes, Director, Flight Free UK