kimberley crofts

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an information and communication designer living in London

travelling, walking, moving about

With some reluctance I have recently endured an Easyjet flight. I wanted to take the train but on my student budget I was unable to afford the extra £400 to travel in a slightly more sustainable manner. Fortunately in December I will be able to redeem my climate sins as I will be taking the slow way to Berlin by train, stopping in at Paris and Cologne on the way. I have of course recently confessed my environmental sins to Futerra at their confessional booth at the wonderful Greengaged event.

Contemplating the state of cheap flights and their effect on the planet was easy to do whilst sitting in the airport lounge watching the thousands of weekend tourists getting anxious. I had to wonder, do they really think that this is worth it? Do they really appreciate what they are experiencing or is it just another chance to tick off a box? For example I overheard a woman on the plane talking about her trip to the Netherlands and she couldn’t even remember the name of town that she visited!

So what is the future of travel? A recent partnership between the excellent Forum for the Future and some big names in travel has produced a report called Tourism 2023. The report proposes that a low carbon future will demand a different sort of traveller: one who takes the slow road, travelling for a longer period every couple of years rather than each weekend. Anna Simpson (who neatly summarises the report here) sees that this type of travel is both more rewarding for the traveller and for the place to which they travel, citing examples of the ‘one-day tourists who rip through the city [Venice] without so much as a gondola ride or a plate of zucchini’.

But didn’t we all used to do ‘slow travel’? I for one planned my first trip overseas in 1996 for at least four years and after that month away I couldn’t afford to travel for at least another three years. My longest trip abroad was a year in South America, but many people just cannot afford to take this length of time off work now. Employers are rarely willing to allow an employee to take even a four week block of holidays, and so the culture of mini-breaks is encouraged. Perhaps it’s time to start putting pressure on the employers to revise their policies regarding holiday time.

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