Vacations are important – here’s why you shouldn’t give in to flight shaming

Travel is one of the greatest things you can do – here’s why you shouldn’t

Last week another campaign to help save the launched environment. It’s called “Take The Jump” and asks us to make sacrifices such as buying only three new clothes a year, taking short-haul flights every three years – and long-haul flights every eight years.

While I understand that we all have a role to play in reducing emissions, I can’t help but be frustrated that we are being pressured to make these sacrifices when, according to the Carbon Majors Database71% of all emissions come from the same 100 companies.

People travel for many different reasons

Take the example of air travel. There is always the assumption that people fly or travel for fun. But it’s not always the case.

During my time as a flight attendant, I met people who traveled for various reasons. Many were business travelers, which admittedly can and should be significantly reduced. But many have traveled to visit family, to start new lives, to receive medical treatment or because they had no choice but to move elsewhere.

Too often a passenger had a loved one in a casket in the hold.

Then there were flights full of aid workers and volunteers on their way to help after a natural disaster. But even if these people had gone on vacation, travel is also important for many other reasons.

Why traveling is important

In 2019, tourism generated $8.9 trillion (€80.8 trillion) worldwide and employed more than 330 million people.

Finances aside, travel is what gives us our understanding and compassion for other cultures and religions. It allows us to understand the world and all the people who live in it. On our travels, we try new foods, experience new sensations, and push ourselves beyond our limits.

Traveling is a huge privilege, and when done with respect, it’s one of the greatest things you can do.

It’s something people save up for and get really excited about. Some people save all year round for their vacations.

Yes, the world is in a dire state and action desperately needs to be taken. But shouldn’t the companies that cause the most damage do more?

Shouldn’t governments lead the way by installing solar panels on all government and public buildings? Think of all the schools, hospitals, town halls, fire and police stations in our country and how much clean energy they could produce.

Shouldn’t fast fashion be banned or regulated? Or is there too much money to be made?

This may sound idealistic, but the situation being as it is, these types of actions should be taken before placing the burden on the shoulders of individuals.

I’m not saying we should all fly multiple times a year. But like most things, the reality is not that simple.

Time is a luxury not everyone can afford

Yes, slower travel options such as trains work well for one-year-old backpackers and those with three weeks or more to travel. But trains are not always suitable for those who are short on time, have children or want to travel further.

Should closer destinations and slower travel options be considered? Absoutely. There are amazing new train routes available now, and road trips will always be the best way to see a country.

But when we spend so much time at work or worrying about the news, hopping on a plane for a few hours is sometimes the easiest option.

Not all of us have the time or luxury to spend weeks on the road or days on a track.

Since everything seems to work better in moderation, perhaps instead of being ashamed of not doing something we love, we could be introduced to ways to improve it.

Although carbon offset programs have been criticized for some, they are a way to learn more about your individual carbon footprint and how you can balance emissions you generate.

You can choose to support projects like planting more trees or installing more wind turbines all over the world.

Finding more sustainable and economically friendly flights and accommodations also helps ease your conscience.

But above all, if you want to travel, do it. Just be aware of your decisions. That’s all we can ask for right now.

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