We’re Sara and Oli, a couple from London taking a career break to travel the world.
Our mission is to travel net carbon zero
Our mission is to travel net carbon zero because we want to see the world without doing too much harm in the process. This means we’ll minimise flying and instead walk, cycle or take public transport wherever possible. No matter the choices we make, our carbon footprint will never be zero, so we’ll offset any emissions that we can’t avoid. We’re aware that there will always be a trade-off between time, cost, carbon and comfort and we’re trying to find the right balance for us. We’ll aim to document our decisions and the evidence behind them in our blog.
Countries we’ve visited
Our travel past, present and future
We expect that our approach will change over time. Our style certainly has changed in the 15 years we’ve been travelling together so far. Ironically, lack of money meant that we had a relatively low-carbon travel style at first. We met on our very first day of university in 2006 and for the first few years, we spent a lot of time walking, cycling and eating Hockings ice cream in North Devon. Our biggest trip during this period was a month interrailing around Europe in 2010, where we visited Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. We revisited the blog we wrote on this trip recently, and were really struck that we’d completed the entire trip on public transport. Rather than taking taxis or other private transport, we walked miles and miles with our big backpacks, all in the name of saving money. When there was a single daily bus or train going to where we needed to go, we made sure we caught it!
For a couple of years while we completed PhDs and then worked in academia, we tagged travel days onto many conferences that we needed to attend anyway – in places like San Diego, Barcelona, New Orleans, Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur.
In 2015, we left academia to join the (somewhat) corporate world and we started to travel more and more, with a much bigger carbon footprint. In 2019 (our last full year of travel pre-pandemic), Sara took 16 flights and visited Brazil, France, Georgia, Greece, Monaco, Montenegro and Spain. That year (and the few before it) were absolutely great and we have few regrets, but it does now make us cringe that it was a source of pride how frequently we were flying and just how high our carbon emissions were as a result.
We started to think that we should make some changes and we were aware that minimising the number of flights we took would have the single biggest impact on our carbon emissions. So, in February 2020 when we went skiing in the French Alps, we took the train from London instead of flying. It was awesome. The mad thing is that it doesn’t take much longer than flying (getting to ski resorts from the UK takes forever, regardless of mode of transport), but the train is spacious, comfortable and much better for the environment. Incidentally, there are no limitations on taking liquids through security (so we took a bottle of bubbly, naturally). We felt like we were onto something!
Now that we’re taking a career break, we have both the time and the resources to travel more slowly and consider our impact a bit more. We don’t foresee that we’ll never take a flight again, but if we do, it will be with our eyes open and having considered alternatives. This blog is about sharing our travel highlights, but also about recording and sharing our journey towards thinking about how we travel a bit more responsibly.