The following I wrote in response to a post by someone who’s exploring what their future travel might look like and seeking other people’s take on this topic. Some of this I have said before on this blog, so it may be repetitive for some of you. FWIW though in case some of you might find this helpful:
I traveled a lot for work from about 1995-2010, including a few international flights. At one point I took 11 cross-country flights in one year! (I live in USA.)
Other than my parents’ funerals I have not flown since 2010, and have taken a pledge not to. A few years ago I retroactively purchased carbon offsets (Gold Standard) to offset every flight I could remember taking in my adult life. I don’t delude myself into thinking I could literally zero-out every negative impact of my travel, but I wanted to do what I could.
Now I travel by train or bus to see family or friends once or twice a year. It’s enough; I savor every moment and take nothing for granted.
I love “traveling” on foot or by bicycle in my own city and region. Always new discoveries.
Probably if I lived in Europe I would have walked or bicycled and taken trains all over the Eurasian continent, and might never have set foot in a plane, but who knows.
I still might walk or bicycle around the USA someday.
I wouldn’t want to deny anyone the joys and learning experiences of travel, especially people who have never gotten to travel. (I grew up in a military family so travel was woven into our lives as we moved to a different place every couple of years, and drove across the country to get from one assigned place to the next.)
Back when I was in my 20s (I’m 60 now), I flew to the UK and stayed there five wonderful weeks, traveling around by train and bus and foot. At one point in my planning I was tempted to do the “American thing” and cram every European country into my itinerary, and rush around, but I realized that held no joy for me.
Also as a young woman I got to live in Japan for five years (teaching English). During that time I was able to travel all around Japan by train, bus, and foot.
In retrospect, there were a number of trips I took (by plane and also by car) that probably did not significantly enrich my life or anyone else’s. If I had a time machine I would choose differently. Carbon offsets, and choosing differently from now on, are the next best thing.
I do love experiencing other countries and cultures but have been able to satisfy that by exploring images and reading online. And also, believe it or not, by participating in groups like this one where there are people from all over the world. The main appeal of travel for me has really mainly always been talking to different people and seeing how they live, what everyday life is like in different places. And I don’t have to leave my place to experience that.
On New Year’s Eve, I immensely enjoyed the Deep Adaptation Zoom gathering, which was worldwide and lasted 24 hours. You could wander in and out all day as your time and sleep schedule permitted, and that’s what I did! It was lovely talking with so many people from various countries in realtime. And I love seeing what the insides of people’s homes look like also. Each person’s Zoom screen is like a really wonderful animated postcard.
One choice I have made in my life was to decide to move to a place that offered the type of physical setting I loved most and would be happiest to wake up to every day. For me, that is a city by the beach. I moved here at age 50 and have built close ties here with my immediate neighbors and throughout the city and region. Honestly I rarely feel the urge to leave, except to visit my family. My favorite trip is the 3-minute walk to the ocean, over the small rise of the dunes at the end of my street.
Every place is prone to one kind of disaster or other, and I have emergency evac plans in place, and have friends in other cities I could make a life with if I need to leave here (and they know they have the same offer from me if they need to leave their places).
In October I bought a small used Honda motorcycle which I ride around on short trips for pleasure. I’ve used about two gallons of gasoline so far and I account for it in my carbon budget.
Someday I might get a wild urge to ride all the way to Miami (about 500 km). If I do that, I’m sure it’ll feel like an epic adventure. Then again, I could walk or bicycle there, which would be even more of an adventure!