Flight free holidays: A practical guide

Phil Sturgeon
9 min readJan 26, 2020

The first few months of the year is peak travel time for Northern Hemisphere dwellers, as they try to get south for better weather. If you’re in America, you might consider a week in Miami, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, and if you’re in Europe you might be tempted by the budget flights to southern Spain, the Canary Islands, Turkey, etc. In the past I would have joined you, but 2020 is a year for doing things differently, and with it being January, let’s look at one New Years resolution worth sticking to: going flight free.

Flight Free 2020 campaigns have popped up in the States, England, France, with people all over the world taking part. The idea is not that nobody can ever fly ever again for any reason, but that we all need to fly drastically less, and to kickoff a mindset for keeping flights to a minimum, people are starting with a year of no flying. Some friends of mine are giving up booze for a year, so not flying for a year doesn’t seem too tough in comparison. This article is not just going to give you a lecture or try to take anything away from you, we’re going to talk about how you can have some cracking holidays, without kicking the planet in the face.

Yes. Whilst air travel might only account for 2% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, this ignores the fact that the average Brit has emitted more carbon in the last two weeks than the citizens of seven African nations emit in an entire year . Emissions from the aviation industry are forecast to grow both in real terms and as a proportion of the national total. In the UK, the share of emissions taken up by aviation is predicted to grow from around 6% today to 25% by 2050, even if the sector is successfully capped at level of 37.5 MtCO2 (equivalent to UK aviation emissions in 2005) which has been recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.

If it was a country, aviation would be the 7th largest emitter of CO 2 in the world , just behind Germany. In Europe, Ryanair has become one of the top 10 most carbon polluting businesses. — Source: responsiblevacation.com

Other than just the emissions, emitting greenhouse gases at high altitude can have a multiplier effect:

In addition to CO2, aircraft emit nitrogen oxides, known as NOx, which contribute to the formation of ozone, another greenhouse gas. Emissions of NOx at high altitudes result in greater concentrations of ozone than ground-level emissions.

Aircraft also emit water vapor at…

Phil Sturgeon

Building API design tools @stoplightio , teaching at @apisyouwonthate, and cycling around Europe raising funding for reforestation and climate action.