No fly holidays are getting more popular now, that is a fact. So what are the reasons why more and more are turning to alternative holidays which do not involve planes and airports?
The 90s saw the real boom in budget airlines in Europe with EasyJet and RyanAir leading the way to low cost travel for everyone. UK tabloid newspapers such as The Sun and The Mirror ran offers where you could fly to Nice for £ 1 if you collected the 'tokens' from just 4 newspapers. All of a sudden a whole generation of people who only dreamed of going abroad were 'nipping off' for a quick weekend on the French Riviera or just going on a stag do in Prague. The budget airlines went further, destinations became Rome, Malaga, Lisbon or Berlin. Who could have predicted 100 years ago that the aviation would have available to everyone and not just the upper class?
Things have changed; Budget airlines are not as cheap as they once were. There are now excesses charged for checking in luggage, taking skis, using a credit card. Traveling is more difficult now that you can not take liquids or more than one piece of hand luggage on board, which makes traveling with children and babies very difficult indeed. But there are other factors that put people off flying which are potentially much more serious.
Terrorism reached its aviation peak with the 9/11 attacks of September 2001 which killed thousands of people. I traveled through New York myself on September 11th 2007 and even though it was 6 years on, there was a definite feeling of fear both in the air and on the ground.
Full body scanners are now being used at major European airports such as Manchester and Schipol, which many travelers are uneasy about. The scanners produce a naked image of travelers, which of course can include celebrations and children.
Carbon footprint. Aircraft cause sever destruction to our atmosphere and green campaigners have every right to fight for the right to preserve our planet. We will never stop flying, but aircraft will get greener and maybe the Earth's population will take fewer unnecessary flights, but overall flying is never going to be an eco friendly option.
Natural phenomena. A superb example is the chaos that was caused by Iceland's glacier-covered Eyjafjallajokull volcano in April 2010. The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull caused volcanic ash to be pumped into the atmosphere all over Europe, bringing the entire European aviation industry to a standstill for 4 days. The cost ran into billions and as I write this people are still trying to make their way home, two weeks after the eruption.
So what are the alternatives? Trains are one of the most eco-friendly forms of transport, but for someone like myself with a classic two parent, two children family, public transport is not going to work for me. We just have too much stuff to take with us.
A car plus tent is a nice option, but to be honest I am 'pushing 50' now and I expect a bit of comfort – even luxury. The best compromise for me is to hire a motorhome, load it with everything we need and head off towards France and then Spain, which is a country I adore. Sure it takes a while to get there, but with a motorhome it is all part of the fun. The interesting thing is that once we get to our destination we use no more diesel other than getting home again. We use bikes that we take with us, walk and use local buses.
Motorhome hire may not be the most eco friendly option for a no fly holiday, but it is in comparison much better than flying, more fun and more laid back.