Disneyland Flight Free

So I didn’t post last week because we went away as a family for half term – to Disneyland Paris!

This probably wouldn’t have been our first choice for a holiday, but we have a group of really good friends who we try to get away with at least once a year and some of them wanted to go. I’m so glad we did – what a brilliant adventure, and such wonderful memory making!

A trip to Disney isn’t the obvious eco-holiday choice (a yurt in a field with a long drop toilet perhaps?), but we did our best as we went to make the most oikos friendly choices we could.

The big one was not to fly – a decision we first made as a family about 3 years ago. It has been pretty easy to not fly during covid – not many opportunities! – but was a bit of a rub when we were planning this holiday. Our friends (3 other families) initially assumed that we would all be flying – I suspect many other people also have flying as the default option. Unfortunately flying is often the most carbon intense way to travel, by a long way. This BBC article goes into detail on why and how “mile for mile, flying is the most damaging way to travel for the climate”. When we said that our family would be taking the train at first our friends weren’t convinced. But after a bit of research we worked out that Eurostar travel was not going to be vastly more expensive than flying (we all assumed it would be at first), and wouldn’t take much longer (London to the centre of Paris in 2.5hours) – before long everyone else agreed to join us on the train!

It was a really exciting journey – our kids love trains, and being able to get up and wander around made the journey so much easier. And seeing this graphic pop up on a screen on the train made me punch the air a little bit 🙂

Confession – the journey there was pretty good, partly because we broke it up by travelling down to London one day, staying in a hotel near St Pancras, and then doing the rest of the journey the next day. On the way home we tried to do the whole journey in one go – about 12 hours door-to-door – which was exhausting and pretty stressful. One of our friends posted in our message group (after their train from London home was delayed by 2 hours): “Train delayed 2 hours. Screw the planet, we are flying next time.” I don’t think he means it (?), but I feel his frustration – especially with the train network within the UK (the international trains, and connections in France were a dream – including double-decker trains in France!). I’ve had another look though, and I don’t think that flying would have actually made our journey much shorter either – the long bit for our family would still be the internal UK travel… Much higher carbon impact to fly, but for around the same cost in time and money. Easy choice for me!

Choosing not to fly does mean that there are some options that are no longer open to us. Our last foreign holiday as a family (before this one) was to Gran Canaria in January 2018 – a journey that is technically possible without flying, but prohibitively expensive (this blog post on Flight Free put the cost of travel at around £1000 per person!). Child 1 was pretty disappointed when we said we wouldn’t be going back to Gran Canaria (not anytime soon), but she has since loved our holidays in Scotland, Northumbria, the Lake District and Disneyland Paris – there are so many wonderful places to explore without ever taking your feet off the ground!

I do recognise that the travel industry has created a situation where cheap foreign holidays (for many people the only way they can afford to enjoy this luxury) have flying built into the model. Big hotel complexes to keep prices down and infrastructure to support massive tourism, but all built around the premise of cheap flights – partly with the goal of getting somewhere warmer. We are grateful to have the resources to be able to choose differently and not just have to go without holidays away, but recognise that not everyone has this option.

But with the climate crisis growing ever more apparent it seems certain that all of our habits must change, or destroy us. The most recent update from the IPCC (reported by BBC News here) makes for sober reading – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres describes it as an “atlas of human suffering”, and goes on to say: “The facts are undeniable…. The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home.”

I have lots more thoughts and ideas from our holiday, which I might share later, but for now I need to catch up on some sleep – holidays with young children are exhausting!

Part of the information for guests in our accommodation – the beautiful Villages Nature Paris.

Published by oikoslife

I am married, father of 2 young children (2014 and 2017), pioneering priest in the Church of England, surfer, climate activist and much more. Born in Yorkshire, and currently living on the Yorkshire Coast. Doing my best to live in good connection with God, self, neighbour and creation - working it out as I go.

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