Of course, flying is not the only way that we harm the planet.
We do so every day through out diet, our lifestyle, our homes, cars, kids and voting choices. I also harm the planet every time someone reads one of my blogs and is inspired to jump on a plane. (Go on a Microadventure, folks!)
I’m sipping a coffee whose environmental impact somewhat sours the taste when I think of it, and writing this on an energy-guzzling laptop that will end up in landfill one day.
I would love to travel more. But my frustration at not flying decreases over time as I discover how exciting it feels to travel to the Alps by train, watching out of the window for the first glimpse of mountains and snow.
Travelling to talks in Paris or Amsterdam by Eurostar is far preferable to the grim experience of airports.
Neither of these examples are significantly slower than flying, either. (They are, however, usually much more expensive than flying which is ludicrous.)
And my absolute favourite way of beginning an adventure is sitting with a friend, a map and a beer in the buffet car of the Caledonian sleeper train as it pulls slowly out of Euston station bound for the Scottish Highlands.
Adventure does not have to depend on flying. The biggest adventure of my life was a magic carpet ride around our planet by bicycles and boats.
A significant transformative adventure experience in my life was walking a lap of London and learning to look differently at the landscape I lived in.
Forcing constraints onto adventures can actually make them more interesting.
One of my richest travel experiences was the “world tour” of Yorkshire I took by bicycle. I spent a month exploring the backroads and bridleways and towns of the county I grew up, chatting to people along the way about what living adventurously meant to them.
It was an experiment to compare the feeling of crossing continents to crossing a county. I knew more about cycling in the Yukon than I did about cycling in Yorkshire, the place where I had grown up and still feel to be ‘home’.
Could I find adventure close to home?
Could I find anything new and feel like I was exploring?
Could a small place satisfy my curiosity and wanderlust in the way that far-off lands have always done?
Yes, yes, and yes!
I wish that I could have spent two, three, four months cycling around that small corner of my small country tucked away in one small corner of a small continent (on a small planet in a small solar system…). For the world is like a fractal.
You get one impression by looking at the whole. Zoom in and you glean a comparable wisdom.
There are similar experiences and lessons wherever you choose to seek them.
The closer you peer, the more there is to see.
I could seek sponsorship to climb the 7 Summits. Or I could travel round Scotland climbing the Munros. And after that, smaller still, the Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds and Marilyns can provide thousands of new adventures.
There are more than 8000 rivers in the UK - do I honestly need more than that? Such abundance, such scope for adventure on my doorstep! (Learning to be astonished by curiosity and looking more closely is one reason I’ve always enjoyed Annie Dillard’s writing, by the way.)
If I cycled every street in London it would, in its own way, be as fascinating a travel journey as cycling an equivalent 10,000 miles from my front door to Asia. (Turn around and pedal home again and you'll save yourself a flight here as well!)
Matt Green once walked across America, but then thought, "Instead of seeing a million places for just a minute each, I'm going to spend a million minutes exploring just one place. By the time I finish walking every block of every street in all five boroughs, I'll have traveled more than 8,000 miles on foot — all within a single city."