top of page

Flight free holidays

There is no such thing as a cheap flight. A tangled web of subsidies, tax breaks and state support helps to keep fares much lower than they would otherwise be. There is no tax on aviation fuel by international agreement, which seems madness now we know the polluting status of flights and the pressing need to make progress towards a zero-carbon economy.

In reality the costs are born by other people: higher taxes to pay for the subsidies, the people near the airport exposed to noise and pollution, and the people around the world who are living with the effects of climate change right now. And, of course, our children and grandchildren. If they are lucky, they will be paying for every gram of carbon dioxide that is emitted by a flight today to be sucked out of the atmosphere and stored. And if they are unlucky, they will be dealing with the effects of a dangerously warmer world. If these costs, which economists call externalities, were priced into the air fare, a lot of us would be choosing another means of travel.

Alternatively travel prices could be required to identify both the monetary and environmental cost, a bit like putting calorie figures against food on a menu. It seem a bit crude to create a single figure but we need to start somewhere. Unpicking decades of fossil fuel industry lobbying and consumer sweeteners will take forever, particularly the international agreements and we don't have forever.

A couple of years ago we at Snark did a bit of research (well some Google trawling) and put together some figures for the carbon equivalent cost of various boat based holiday options. Most sailing options are similar until you add the travel and flight costs to join them. While its great to head off to the Med for a holiday it cannot be considered sustainable if you fly there. Trips to the Caribbean or worse Antarctica are simply off the scale and don't even try to justify a Caribbean cruise on a large cruise ship.

Recent international research identified that a majority of those poled thought more action, both personal and governmental, was needed to manage the environmental crisis even if that had a real cost to them but they also thought others didn't think the same way. It is this perception that holds back governments and often creates the self justification for inaction. 'Why should I give up .......... if they are still doing it' I'll leave you to answer that!

Sundowners on deck after a great day's sail.

When we are being battered by another Atlantic storm it is hard to believe that a no fly holiday option closer to home will be anything but wet and windy. But we know that we rarely sail in the rain and only have a few days each summer when the winds keep us in harbour. Sailing on Snark around the UK and near continent is full of excitement, discovery and wonder. A true escape from the everyday and the madding crowds into a natural world without costing the earth.

You can check all this out on our web site

63 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page