Air Pollution: Is Not Flying a Solution?

Thumbnail image for globe_west_172.jpgTech geek Anirvan Chatterjee and landscape architect Barnali Ghosh were surprised to learn that their carbon footprint was bigger than 90 percent of Americans, despite their green efforts which included living without a car. They found that air travel was to blame and challenged themselves to spend a year without flying. In words that might resonate with many desis, Chatterjee wrote about why it would be hard to give up flying, just before embarking upon the Year of No Flying project.

Growing up in a family of post-1965 transnational immigrants, our history is deeply connected with the democratization of air travel — countless flights to and from India, Canada, Nigeria, and the United States. Our stories begin and end in airports. (Last flight)As part of the no-flying challenge, the couple crossed continents and oceans to explore solutions to the problem of aviation sector emissions, meeting with environmentalists and planners, including youth activists in India and Vietnam. They crossed the Pacific and Atlantic by container ships and traveled by train through Asia. They also had the infuriating experience of flying to India during the year because emotional, political and logistical factors prevented them from either skipping South Asia or traveling there by land/sea.

Post-challenge they continue to write about the latest developments in green travel and aviation emissions. They also took time to answer my questions.

How did your families and friends react to your decision to stop flying for a year?

I think some of our friends and family members may have thought that we were more adventurous travelers than we really were. Getting around the world in 365 days without flying doesn’t have to involve rappelling through canyons or trekking across Central Asia. We took a mix of container ships, ferries, trains, and buses to get around. [Train Travels slideshow]

SecondClassCabin.jpg

We’ve heard that only about 5% of the people on the planet use aviation. Exploring life without planes felt very normal; it’s what people have always done, and most people on the planet still do.

What is your most memorable experience from the project?

The Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic crossings were particularly memorable. By the time we got on board the cargo ship that would take us from Seattle to Yokohama [slide show], we were exhausted from having spent the past month madly planning for our year ahead. We finally slowed down as we stood on the deck as the ship pulled out of harbor, watching a spectacular sunset with the shimmering Seattle skyline and Mount Olympia in the background.

It was better than any plane journey we’d ever taken.

For the next ten days we were grateful to have this gift of time and of discovery. It was amazing to look out the window and realize that we were in the middle of the Pacific, surrounded by 2,800 containers and with no land in sight. We’d flown over this ocean so many times without ever appreciating its size and depth.

It also gave us a very intimate view of the workings of a modern day cargo ship, and a glimpse into the invisible world of global shipping. Our cargo ship back home from Europe to the US was smaller, but the diverse crew, including a contingent of Sri Lankan sailors, immediately made us feel at home.

Do you have any advice for people who want to help reduce global emissions by cutting down or eliminating their air travel but feel torn by the desire to attend a family wedding across the world or visit grandparents in person, etc.?

Barnali’s brother’s getting married in India later this year, and yeah, we’ll be flying there. We can’t imagine not being there. British writer George Monbiot has a word for this: “love miles” — all those dirty miles we fly, and then justify using love.

We’re trying to deal with this in three steps: understanding the problem, taking personal steps, and trying to fix the larger system. We started off trying to understand the problem.

Aviation’s responsible for about 4.9% of our total impact on the climate. An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year! It takes a while to internalize, but when it comes to the climate, binge flyers can be worse than SUV drivers.

Next, we’re trying to cut back and substitute. We usually fly to India every year to see family, but now we hope to make that basically our only flight each year. Buses, trains, and cars usually beat planes, though that varies; you can check the numbers for your next trip at www.TripFootprint.com.

Finally, though personal efforts are nice, they don’t mean much unless we can make bigger changes: better rail/bus alternatives, more business flights replaced by cheaper and greener remote conferencing, and an end to subsidies for dirty transportation options. We’re supporting climate and transportation justice groups. If you want to learn more, or don’t know where to start, consider the wonderful Transportation For America coalition (www.t4america.org).

34 thoughts on “Air Pollution: Is Not Flying a Solution?

  1. Yay! I think this might actually be the first time that Sepia Mutiny has profiled real life desi friends of mine that I knew pre Mutiny. Check out more of their sites, it’s full of great stuff.

  2. This is so timely…I’ve got a big year of traveling coming up and I detest flying, both for personal and environmental reasons. I’ll definitely be checking their site out to see what tips they have. :)

  3. Also this might be of interest…this website shows you how to take the train pretty much anywhere…there’s even a London to Delhi route! (Ok so it involves taking a cab through SE Iran…still worth it and definitely something I want to do one day!)

    http://www.seat61.com/

  4. I don’t think Marie Antoinette would’ve saved her neck by giving up cake for a year.

  5. An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year!

    This sort of vague hyperbole is ridiculous. Everyone person on the flight would be running a car for a year? Or is the trip itself paramount to one car/year and everyone on it shares? People need to elaborate on these claims if they want to be taken seriously.

  6. I forgot to add that I fail to see how an economy trip would be any better or worse than a 1st class. Pointless details like that also are stupid.

  7. An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year!

    This is why I always fly first. For the whales.

  8. Barnali’s brother’s getting married in India later this year, and yeah, we’ll be flying there. We can’t imagine not being there.

    C’mon! They could just bike to Alaska, take the ferry across the Bering, and pronto they are in Eurasia. Shed those love miles and those love handles in one fell swoop.

  9. Don’t quite understand Paul & Rahul’s sarcasm. This seems like a great idea. My fiance & I have begun driving between Boston and South Carolina. We save on money and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Plus the drive is a lot more fun without any of the hassles of dealing with airports and airlines.

  10. In the talks about climate change, one thing that people can do is to have smaller families.

    Moreover, even if you drove a Prius and cooked with solar magnifiers in Arizona, you’re still leaving a HUGE carbon footprint, just by dint of living in a place like that (and in Dubai).

  11. I think you meant either Mt. Rainier or the Olympic Mountain range. As far as I know there is no Mt. Olympia in Seattle.

  12. @Melissa, Seat 61′s an amazing resource, which we made very heavy use of! Thanks for mentioning it, and good luck with your trip.

    @Nandalal, you’re absolutely right. Our project was about pulling apart the web of aviation-oriented development, while documenting climate action movements working on broader system change. Individual boycotts (either of cake or CO2) don’t get stuff done.

    @Rahul — ferry schmerry, I’m holding out for the Bering strait bridge/tunnel.

    @Paul, those are great questions about the carbon footprint of aviation. Here’s the background you wanted:

    Civil aviation contributes (as of 2005) 4.9% of the total human impact on the climate, from CO2, other greenhouse gases, and cloud cover impacts. You can read much more about the most current research in a summary, or in the original paper (PDF) by David Lee et al.

    Here’s why we say “An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year.” We start off using the TRX aviation carbon calculator. (Make sure to check the RFI button, so the calculator will take total climate impacts into account, not just CO2. TRX uses an RFI multiplier of 2.7, while the Lee paper seems to suggest a multiplier of 3, but it’s OK using TRX’s more conservative number.) Here are the numbers I get for one sample trip: SFO -> Hong Kong round trip w/RFI on Cathay Pacific economy = 5337 kg CO2-equivalent. Hong Kong -> Mumbai round trip w/RFI on Cathay Pacific economy = 1692 kg CO2-equivalent. That’s a total of 7.0 metric tons CO2-equivalent. For the car number, I’m assuming a 25 mpg vehicle being driven 13,476 miles a year (US average in 2003, per USDOT), which, per Berkeley’s CoolClimate calculator, emits ~6.8 metric tons CO2/year.

    In short, 7 metric tons CO2e from an economy seat flying from SFO to BOM > 6.8 metric tons CO2 driving all year (and I’m guessing the air number would be ~8 metric tons if we use Lee’s higher multiplier). One can quibble about specific air routes or auto numbers, but I think it’s fair to say that international flights can have massive, often unexpected, climate impacts.

    You mentioned that you “fail to see how an economy trip would be any better or worse than a 1st class. Pointless details like that also are stupid.” That detail’s actually pretty important. Standard passenger aviation carbon calculations figure that the more real estate a seat takes up, the greater share of CO2 should be allocated to it. In narrowbody jets, first class passengers takes up the room of 2.7 economy passengers. If you fly first class and hog the room of about three people, expect calculators to allocate you a footprint almost three time as high. This is an issue because global airlines are continuously rejiggering the mix of first/business-class vs. economy-class seating, some even running all-first/business class flights (i.e. “featuring triple CO2e allocations, at every seat!”)

  13. I’m just kidding around, Aniruddha, although I did find the mention of “economy” funny. Pretty cool that they are able to do this, and more power to them!

  14. Don’t quite understand Paul & Rahul’s sarcasm.

    I’m not being sarcastic. I’m pointing out the innate flaws in their claims. Can YOU substantiate anything theyre saying with actual facts? Forget that- Razib’s the one to ask, not you.

  15. An international first class seat is much larger, not to mention much more expensive, than an economy seat, so depending on your methodology for allocating the weight of the plane and therefore fuel consumption, yeah, a first class seat might have a much larger carbon footprint than an economy seat.

  16. An international first class seat is much larger, not to mention much more expensive, than an economy seat, so depending on your methodology for allocating the weight of the plane

    This is why I always ask the stewardesses to distribute their weight in my first class seat. For the whales.

    (Paul, it is true that traveling by plane has higher carbon footprint than traveling by any car with reasonable efficiency.)

  17. man, there is so much money being thrown at advanced battery companies that no one should worry about their carbon footprint. we’re on the cusp of the tech breakthrough that will make EVs viable. Our Leader Khosla is absolutely loaded up. No one can stop this (I won’t say the J-word Saheli) giant.

    obama has quietly revolutionized the world by funnelling stimulus money into these companies. the Chinese then got worried and put away 100 billion to do the same, even investing in foreign start-ups. dubai sees the end of arab oil is coming and has dived in head first. they are the largest shareholder in tesla. big oil money and the kochs are no match for these guys. buffet is in an advaced battery company and gates just did an EV deal.

    pulling back on consumption doesn’t change things. these companies need to make money and consuerism is only going to expand as emerging economies emerge. buy a cleantech index fund in your retirement account instead.

    don’t worry. be happy.

  18. @Melissa, Seat 61′s an amazing resource, which we made very heavy use of! Thanks for mentioning it, and good luck with your trip.

    @Nandalal, you’re absolutely right. Our project was about pulling apart the web of aviation-oriented development, while documenting climate action movements working on broader system change. Individual boycotts (either of cake or CO2) don’t get stuff done.

    @Rahul — ferry schmerry, I’m holding out for the Bering strait bridge/tunnel.

    @ Ashish, indeed.

    @Paul, those are great questions about the carbon footprint of aviation. Here’s the background you wanted:

    Civil aviation contributes (as of 2005) 4.9% of the total human impact on the climate, from CO2, other greenhouse gases, and cloud cover impacts. You can read much more about the most current research in a summary, or in the original paper (PDF) by David Lee et al.

    Here’s why we say “An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year.” We start off using the TRX aviation carbon calculator. (Make sure to check the RFI button, so the calculator will take total climate impacts into account, not just CO2. TRX uses an RFI multiplier of 2.7, while the Lee paper seems to suggest a multiplier of 3, but it’s OK using TRX’s more conservative number.) Here are the numbers I get for one sample trip: SFO -> Hong Kong round trip w/RFI on Cathay Pacific economy = 5337 kg CO2-equivalent. Hong Kong -> Mumbai round trip w/RFI on Cathay Pacific economy = 1692 kg CO2-equivalent. That’s a total of 7.0 metric tons CO2-equivalent. For the car number, I’m assuming a 25 mpg vehicle being driven 13,476 miles a year (US average in 2003, per USDOT), which, per Berkeley’s CoolClimate calculator, emits ~6.8 metric tons CO2/year.

    In short, 7 metric tons CO2e from an economy seat flying from SFO to BOM > 6.8 metric tons CO2 driving all year (and I’m guessing the air number would be ~8 metric tons if we use Lee’s higher multiplier). One can quibble about specific air routes or auto numbers, but I think it’s fair to say that international flights can have massive, often unexpected, climate impacts.

    You mentioned that you “fail to see how an economy trip would be any better or worse than a 1st class. Pointless details like that also are stupid.” That detail’s actually pretty important. Standard passenger aviation carbon calculations figure that the more real estate a seat takes up, the greater share of CO2 should be allocated to it. In narrowbody jets, first class passengers takes up the room of 2.7 economy passengers. If you fly first class and hog the room of about three people, expect calculators to allocate you a footprint almost three time as high. This is an issue because global airlines are continuously rejiggering the mix of first/business-class vs. economy-class seating, some even running all-first/business class flights (i.e. “featuring triple CO2e allocations, at every seat!”)

  19. hi. this sounds pretty cool. i’ve always wanted to sail to india.

    but ….. it looks like it would take a long time and be quite costly to get from ohio to mumbai that way.

    i would much rather have a bit more ghetto conditions and a cheaper fare, than to have more luxuries. i would be interested in some kind of program where you could do work aboard the ship in exchange for a reduced or even nonexistant fee. that would be cool!

    I’m poor, by the way, if you hadn’t gathered already.

  20. Hmmm even though I’m not really an environmentally-conscious person I guess I’m pretty “green”, now that I think about it:

    • I only fly maybe once every 2 years, and the flight is rarely more than 3 hours
    • I never drive; I live in NYC and walk everywhere, or take the subway
    • Being a college student short on funds, I don’t shop a lot, and my friends and I swap clothes and accessories all the time instead of buying new stuff
    • I recycle everything, since there are designated food/plastic/glass/paper recycling bins conveniently smattered all over campus
    • I buy my books at the largest used bookstore in the city, I rent dvd’s instead of buying, etc
    • I watch TV shows online on my laptop instead of having a TV which sucks up energy

    All in all, i guess I’m pretty eco-friendly but never really thought about it. I do take longer showers though, but I guess it all evens out.

    And if everyone stopped having so many kids, that would solve a LOT of problems – environmental, health, and hunger related. I know there’s a multitude of reasons why that doesn’t happen, but I hate when I see people on TV being celebrated for having 17 kids or whatever.

  21. you know what i hate? people who hate on people for having kids.

    i don’t have any kids. would i like some someday? perhaps.

    BUT WHAT KIND OF A FUCKING RETARDED WORLD ARE WE LIIVING IN …. where we think that HAVING KIDS is some kind of a PROBLEM???????

    kids are the answer! the solution! we need all the brains we can get to solve all our problems. there are PLENTY of resources. we just got to tap into them. we need more scientists that can figure shit out. we need workers. we need people!

    GRRRRRR! i hate people that think so stupidly. like “oh yeah, let’s just stop having kids, that’ll solve everything”

    whatever, people just DON’T FUCKING GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • LOL either you got drunk and decided to troll sepia mutiny, or you’re being a melodramatic moron on purpose (OH NOES SHE SAID 17 KIDS ARE BAD THAT MEANS NO MORE KIDS FOREVER WHATEVER SHALL WE DO ARGHHH??? LET ME POUND MY CAPSLOCK KEY IN FRUSTRATION!!!!)

      but once you sober up, might want to get a little educated on how climate change/overpopulation go hand in hand and no, we don’t have “plenty of resources”. And no, those starving kids who don’t have access to basic resources like food, sanitation or health aren’t going to become scientists and solve problems on their empty bellies…actually, they’re just going to die. And nearly 16,000 of them die every fucking day, so that’s a nice little fact for you to pound your capslock key about while you nurse that hangover.

  22. I have taken a ship– and there are some things not considered about that in this article– i.e.where does the trash go (answer: a lot of it is thrown in the ocean)

  23. An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year!

    It’s not like it would take much less time if you used a car and “ferries” to drive rountrip from SF to Mumbai.

    This is a ridiculous guilt feeling. If two comparable modes of transportation in terms of time and convenience offer different efficiencies with fuel consumption, then go with the lower one. But this is apples and oranges.Why even drive? just stay at home and live like a hermit.

    I dont mind if they improved the air quality by mandating better lawnmower designs and stuff like thatwhich won’t affect how I live but will improve the environment.

  24. @Melissa, Seat 61′s an amazing resource, which we made very heavy use of! Thanks for mentioning it, and good luck with your trip.

    @Nandalal, you’re absolutely right. Our project(www.YearOfNoFlying.com) was about pulling apart the web of aviation-oriented development, while documenting climate action movements working on broader system change. Individual boycotts (either of cake or CO2) don’t get stuff done.

    @Rahul — ferry schmerry, I’m holding out for the Bering strait bridge/tunnel.

    @Alina, that’s awesome! Thanks for sharing. You might also enjoy this article: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

    @Lindsey, you’re right, there are all kinds of environmental issues with ships, including dirty fuel, waste disposal, and transfer of invasive non-native species in ballast water. We’re certainly not pushing them uncritically as an optimal alternative. Thank you for bringing this up.

    @Pravin, it sure would be nice if we could tackle the global crisis by changing lawnmower designs, but it may take a smidgen more effort from all of us. After all, India and Bangladesh are the top two countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts in the next 30 years (blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/news/chiefeditor/2010/10/bangladesh-india-at-risk-from-climate-change.html). You’re right to chide “ridiculous guilt feeling”; there’s no need to wallow in guilt, when there are simple solutions available like reduction. For example, many businesses are saving money and cutting down on greenhouse gases by reducing business travel and replacing it with increased use of online conferencing tools (wwf.org.uk/oneinfive).

    @Paul, those are great questions about the carbon footprint of aviation. Here’s the background you wanted:

    Civil aviation contributes (as of 2005) 4.9% of the total human impact on the climate, from CO2, other greenhouse gases, and cloud cover impacts. You can read a summary of the current relevant research at http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=479 (summary), or read the paper by David Lee et al at http://www.tiaca.org/images/tiaca/PDF/IndustryAffairs/2009%20IPCC%20authors%20update.pdf.

    Here’s why we say “An economy flight from San Francisco to Mumbai and back has the impact of driving a car for an whole year.” We start off using the carbon.trx.com aviation carbon calculator. (Make sure to check the RFI button, so the calculator will take total climate impacts into account, not just CO2. TRX uses an RFI multiplier of 2.7, while the Lee paper seems to suggest a multiplier of 3, but it’s OK using TRX’s more conservative number.) Here are the numbers I get for one sample trip: SFO -> Hong Kong round trip w/RFI on Cathay Pacific economy = 5337 kg CO2-equivalent. Hong Kong -> Mumbai round trip w/RFI on Cathay Pacific economy = 1692 kg CO2-equivalent. That’s a total of 7.0 metric tons CO2-equivalent. For the car number, I’m assuming a 25 mpg vehicle being driven 13,476 miles a year (US average in 2003, per USDOT), which, per Berkeley’s CoolClimate calculator, emits ~6.8 metric tons CO2/year.

    In short, 7 metric tons CO2e from an economy seat flying from SFO to BOM > 6.8 metric tons CO2 driving all year (and I’m guessing the air number would be ~8 metric tons if we use Lee’s higher multiplier). One can quibble about specific air routes or auto numbers, but I think it’s fair to say that international flights can have massive, often unexpected, climate impacts.

    You mentioned that you “fail to see how an economy trip would be any better or worse than a 1st class. Pointless details like that also are stupid.” That detail’s actually pretty important. Standard passenger aviation carbon calculations figure that the more real estate a seat takes up, the greater share of CO2 should be allocated to it. In narrowbody jets, first class passengers takes up the room of 2.7 economy passengers. If you fly first class and hog the room of about three people, expect calculators to allocate you a footprint almost three time as high. This is an issue because global airlines are continuously rejiggering the mix of first/business-class vs. economy-class seating, some even running all-first/business class flights (i.e. “featuring triple CO2e allocations, at every seat!”)

  25. @Anirvan,

    I would have admired you if you eschewed travel altogether. But in my late night mode, you just seem to be normalizing emissions in a weird way so as to torture yourself. Frankly, your own data shows that airlines are pretty efficient—you should be flying instead of driving or taking a cab.

    Round trip to India from SFO is about 20,000 miles, and corresponds to 7 metric tons of emissions—this takes into account CO2 and all related emissions. Just CO2 emissions are about a third, about 2.5 metric tons. Car travel for just about 13000 miles—CO2 emissions alone—corresponds to emissions of roughly 7 metric tons.

    Airlines are worse than trains for sure, but not by an order of magnitude. Definitely not much worse, if you consider that often, trains in India and other countries are coal or old diesel powered locomotives. And, of course, the utility they provide is not the same—planes are much faster, at least in India.

    All said and done, airlines surely appear better than cars or cabs–it is hard to beat mass public transport, even if the mode of transport is by air.

    Perhaps walking to the grocery store, biking to work, or even being vegetarian is less glamorous, but more effective than foregoing air travel.Perhaps the best way is to bring on high speed trains all over.

    Air travel being particularly harmful is an obfuscation, though a plausible one. On the other hand, don’t even get me started on those locavores!

  26. I should rephrase:


    Frankly, your own data shows that airlines are pretty efficient—you should be flying instead of driving or taking a cab.


    as


    Frankly, your own data shows that airlines are pretty efficient—one should be flying instead of driving or taking a cab.


    since you don’t do the driving part :) . Not having a car, I admire. Substituting flying for other modes of transport, not convinced.

  27. Hi Anirvan,

    What are the available options for traveling from India (either to Europe or the Americas) without planes, if any? That train route sounds awesome but probably isn’t the most viable at the moment for a variety of reasons.

    Word, Z

  28. @NotG, in general, driving starts looking much better as soon as you add a second passenger (almost halving the per-capita emissions). You might enjoy skimming a Union of Concerned Scientists report called “Getting There Greener” that deals with precisely this issue (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/solutions/cleaner_cars_pickups_and_suvs/greentravel/getting-there-greener.html). We built and are beta-testing a domestic transportation carbon calculator based on that report, online at http://www.TripFootprint.com; feel free to throw some itineraries at it, to get a sense of how the numbers might work.

    You mention that walking to the grocery store, biking to work, or even being vegetarian are effective, and indeed, though we do all three, part of our frustration comes from seeing that blown away by a plane trip to India every year. It’s like exercising for a year, and then topping it off with a 100,000 calorie dessert.

    We’ve spent the past year interviewing folks about climate, transportation, and tourism issues. Given that flying is basically something only the global elite do (only about 5% of people fly), and that it has disproportionate environmental impacts on non-flyers in the global south, I’d say it’s a good idea to fly less, make it mean more when you do, and support and embrace substitutes.

    India has a wonderful domestic train system, and it’s even better now that it has easy online ticketing (www.cleartrip.com, http://www.seat61.com/India.htm). We used to take planes in India before, but have switched back to trains, and we’re happier for it. You get smaller footprints, zero security theater, amazing views, regional foods, and a better social experience (good conversations, sharing home-cooked food, etc.) — a worthwhile use of a couple more hours.

    @premiumshlock, check out http://www.seat61.com/India-overland.htm for current information, http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1864502142/ for older itineraries, and http://www.lonelyplanet.com/searchResult?q=India+overland for feedback and advice from travelers. In short: there do exist paths for people with sufficient time and planning skills (I have a friend doing UK -> India overland right now), but as it stands, the options probably aren’t a good fit for 99% of people.

  29. Anirvan,

    Telling people to fly less is like telling people to stop eating _______. It’s just not going to ring true with the middle- and aspiring middle-classes. Frankly, it also reeks of asceticism, which is going to be not-so-popular with pretty much the entire world. Even the oh-so-green Japanese and Europeans love their airplanes.

    Frankly, I love traveling, and I happen to live on the other side of the country from most of my family. I like to go home and see them once or twice a year, in addition to seeing as much of the world as I can.

    The container ships are a cute idea, but I can’t take the time off to travel so slowly, and frankly I don’t like ships anyway. Furthermore, trains don’t get me to Europe or Asia. High speed trains are great, but even a high speed train would take 3 or so days to cross the US. That means no Thanksgiving or Christmas with the family!

    Until we perfect giant slingshots with big air-filled bags at the landing point, flying is going to be the only option many of us have.

  30. Thanks, Anirvan. I’d looked at Seat61 after seeing someone else’s earlier comment, though I might have stumbled upon it long ago, too. Will be something I try in the future, visas and funds permitting. In India now with a US passport, so I’ll have to leave as soon as my visa expires next year. Should have gone for the OCI. But back to travel. Looks like India might be the one place to which I continue flying. I went to college away from home (out of state) and used non-plane travel about a third of the time in four years, more so in the last two.

    However, I find it hard to believe that there are no freighters that go regularly from India to Europe or the Americas, through/to places that don’t require visas of folks from the states. On the freight travel site I found off your blog, I managed to find one company/route that goes between India and Singapore, but seemingly only once a year each way. There was another that had listed India as a ‘potential’ stop. Any other advice?

    Cheers, Z

  31. …you might want to look into Global Dimming. Not flying doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for the earth.

  32. Hi all!

    This is a great article! I am planning to travel to Europe from the UK by rail this summer as it is much safer for the environment and it will also enhance my experience.

    Just wanted to give a quick tip! I have been using http://www.raileurope.co.uk as I have found it offers the most extensive range of train tickets throughout Europe.

    Thanks peeps

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