Private jets (AKA PJs) are really bad for the environment, like really bad. We’ve looked at efforts to ban PJs before, this time let’s examine the relative carbon emissions of different classes of flying. If you’re not rich enough to afford a PJ or a first class ticket then you’re already demonstrating more care for the environment. The wealthy have had a disproportionate impact on climate change.
Of course, the best thing to do with flying emissions is to eliminate them entirely by building more and faster trains.
A 747 flight from London to New York creates 200 tonnes of CO2. If that is divided between all the passengers, that’s 572kg each. Except that business class and first class passengers use more space, and are therefore less efficient and more polluting. A first class ticket on the same plane uses 2,835kg – and why some have suggested ending first class as a quick-win way to reduce aviation emissions.
The emissions from first class seats are knocked into a top hat by the emissions of private planes. Take your own jet to New York, and you’re looking at over 25 tonnes of CO2.
Over tourism of popular sites, and entire cities, has gotten so out of hand that Venice, Amsterdam, and a handful of other cities have concerned adding a daily fee to tourists just to be in the city. Everyone knows this isn’t a good solution as it won’t impact the wealthy tourists who can afford it, meaning travelling to famous sites will be something only the rich can afford. Instead, if you are going to travel you should think before you go. Anybody who’s been to the Louvre knows that the Mona Lisa is a waste of time, yet everyone goes. Before following the hordes of tourists blindly being led from Instagram site to Instagram site you ought to think for yourself.
â€œThe question is, do you want to go to a place â€“ or show people youâ€™ve been to the place?â€ says Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission.
â€œHalf the reason people have superficial travel experiences is because theyâ€™ve made superficial plans,â€ says journalist Becker. She encourages people to do more than read a paragraph in a guide book or copy friends on Facebook, then parachute into a city and get the same selfie they did. Otherwise, you risk committing what Becker calls â€œdrive-by tourismâ€, which stokes many of the symptoms of over-tourism, like overcrowding and irritating locals.
Another strategy is to ask yourself what you really want to do and see, rather than seeing something for the sake of seeing it. Becker recommends not doing things you wouldnâ€™t do back home. If you donâ€™t like museums, for example, donâ€™t clog up the Louvre and whiz through without a clue what youâ€™re seeing, she says.
Regular readers already know that going on vacation is good for one’s happiness and there are ways to travel while keeping a small carbon footprint. It can be hard to find time to travel and expensive too, so how should one go about thinking about vacations?
Vacations aren’t things that should be “efficient” or viewed as a quantifiable experience. Instead, we can use existing research to prepare for a vacation and enjoy it while out and about. Basically, relax by changing your mindset around vacations from an epic journey to a chance to be with people in new places.
2. OPT FOR QUANTITY OVER â€œONCE IN A LIFETIMEâ€
A once-in-a-lifetime trip, like a month in New Zealand, would be amazing. But the â€œonce-in-a-lifetimeâ€ aspect of such vacations limits their overall contribution to happiness. Research increasingly finds that we return to previous happiness levels fairly quickly (we spend life on the â€œhedonic treadmillâ€), and so smaller pleasures experienced frequently contribute more to overall well-being than major but less infrequent ones. Another studyfound that the health and wellness benefits of a vacation peaked at about eight days in. So look for already-shortened workweeks for getaways so you can plan several eight-day vacations (weekend plus workweek plus weekend) in a year for the price of three to four vacation days a pop.
I just booked a flight to London and coincidentally came across an article that says that our brains can benefit greatly from exploring the world. A good way to start the day!
It turns out that the ability of the brain to handle new information is connected to well-being and that travel can get your bring working in new ways. It is also beneficial to step out of your comfort zone, which travelling general encourages. So you should book that trip you’ve been thinking about!
In recent years, psychologists and neuroscientists have begun examining more closely what many people have already learned anecdotally: that spending time abroad may have the potential to affect mental change. In general, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning theyâ€™re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.
â€œForeign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,â€ says Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and the author of numerous studies on the connection between creativity and international travel. Cognitive flexibility is the mindâ€™s ability to jump between different ideas, a key component of creativity. But itâ€™s not just about being abroad, Galinsky says: â€œThe key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and doesnâ€™t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.â€ In other words, going to Cancun for a week on spring break probably wonâ€™t make a person any more creative. But going to Cancun and living with local fishermen might.
When friends ask for life advice tell them to leave. Over at BBC Travel they have an article about how travelling can make you a better person. So what are you waiting for? Get out and explore the world!
Youâ€™ll gain a broader perspective
As Twainâ€™s quote emphasises, travel can open peopleâ€™s minds and allow them to see things from a new perspective.
â€œWhen you travel, you are faced with alternative cultures that have a different way of doing, thinking and believing,â€ said Simon Huggins. â€œIt challenges your assumptions and makes you shift your way of looking at things. When you get home, you come back to your own culture with different eyes and a more questioning mind.â€