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Holidays are important - here's why you shouldn't give in to being 'flight shamed'

'Travel is a huge privilege and, when done respectfully, is one of the greatest things you'll ever do.'
'Travel is a huge privilege and, when done respectfully, is one of the greatest things you'll ever do.'   -   Copyright  Canva
By Hayley Rogue Ashworth

Travel is one of the greatest things you'll ever do - here's why you shouldn't sacrifice it. 

Last week another campaign to help save the environment launched. It's called 'Take The Jump' and asks us to make sacrifices such as only buying three new items of clothing per year, taking short-haul flights every three years - and long-haul every eight.

While I appreciate we all have a part to play in lowering emissions, I can't help but be frustrated that we are being pressured to make these sacrifices, when, according to the Carbon Majors Database, 71 per cent of all emissions come from the same 100 companies.

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71 per cent of all emissions come from the same 100 companies.Canva

People travel for many different reasons

Take air travel as an example. There is always the assumption that people are flying or travelling for fun. But that is not always the case.

During my time as a flight attendant, I met people who travelled for varying reasons. Many were business travellers, which admittedly can and should be drastically reduced. But plenty travelled to visit family, to start new lives, to receive medical treatment, or because they had no choice but to move somewhere else.

Too many times, a passenger had a loved one in a coffin in the cargo hold.

During my time as a flight attendant, I met people who travelled for varying reasons. Too many times, a passenger had a loved one in a coffin in the cargo hold.

Then there were flights filled with aid workers and volunteers en route to help after a natural disaster. But even if those people had been going on holiday, travel is important for so many other reasons too.

Why travelling matters

In 2019 tourism generated $8.9 trillion (€80.8 trillion) globally and employed over 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 in it. During our travels we try new foods, experience new sensations, and push ourselves beyond our limits.

Travel is a huge privilege and, when done respectfully, is one of the greatest things you'll ever do.

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hot air balloons in the skyCanva

It is something people save up for and get really excited about. Some people save all year for their holiday.

Yes, the world is in a dire state and action desperately needs to be taken. But shouldn't the companies causing 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 outlawed or regulated? Or is there too much money to be made?

This may seem idealistic, but with 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 take flights 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 year-long backpackers and those with three or more weeks to travel. But trains are not always suitable for those who are time-short, have children, or want to travel further.

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

Trains are not always suitable for those who are time-short, have children, or want to travel further.

But when we spend so much of our time at work or worrying about current events, jumping on a plane for a few hours is the sometimes the easiest option.

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A train travels through fieldsCanva

We don't all have the time or luxury of spending weeks on the road or days on a track.

As everything seems to work best in moderation, perhaps instead of being shamed into not doing something we enjoy, we could be introduced to ways of making it better.

Although carbon offsetting programmes have been criticised by some, they are one way to learn more about your individual carbon footprint and how you can balance the emissions you generate.

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

Looking for flights and accommodation that are more sustainable and economically friendly also helps ease your conscience.

But most importantly, if you want to travel, then do so. Just be mindful about your decisions. That’s the most anyone can ask for right now.