noflyingaircraftOne of ENCA’s members, James, is lucky enough to be planning a year travelling to a few corners of the world, with plans to visit Egypt before heading to Latin America – volunteering with and hopefully developing further links for partners of ENCA in Central America.

With the time available to him, and aware of the carbon burden that air travel for tourism places on the global climate, James is determined to explore what it means nowadays to travel internationally without flying.

Why do this?

There are 3 reasons why James intends to do this:


1) For the environment

Nowadays there is an increasing number of people looking into tourism options that have less of an environmental impact. One of the main concerns is the huge amount of carbon released by aeroplanes, due to the vast energy required to make them fly. Furthermore the high altitude at which planes fly – especially long-haul flights – means that this carbon is dumped where it causes the most damage to our environment. As a result, there is no single activity that the average Western person undertakes that has more of an impact on global warming.


2) As a personal choice

Unfortunately, when it comes to international travel it is not as simple as choosing not to fly – for many people it seems hard to find viable alternatives. Due to the speed of air travel, and intense competition from airlines to reduce their prices – assisted by an ability to avoid international fuel taxes – alternatives generally don’t seem able to compete.

Furthermore, avoiding emissions is not always as simple as not flying. Any form of fossil-fuel powered transport emits carbon, and the distances involved in international travel mean that this is frequently a great deal. Cargo ships like those James intends to use to get across the Atlantic, for example, have to run their engines constantly for weeks to make the journey. However, cargo ships exist and travel regardless of whether they have passengers – by travelling by such methods you are not avoiding emissions but minimising your own contribution to them, and to a travel industry whose existence is a major source of them.

Our ENCA member has a luxury of time for his journey, and has decided to spend a bit more of this, and a bit more money, in an attempt to avoid air travel. This personal choice is in part an attempt to commit to having as little an environmental impact as possible while travelling. But it is equally driven by a desire to find out what this commitment requires of us nowadays.

Ultimately however, the painful truth is that no matter how much we love our international holidays, they come with an environmental cost. It is a personal choice we make to fly, instead of travelling shorter distances or finding less polluting methods of transport. This choice is one that our future generations, and current generations in climatically-sensitive areas like Central America, have to bear the consequences of.


3) For ENCA

One person choosing not to fly of course has very little impact on the global environment. However we hope that by promoting a little of this adventure, it may inspire other people to give it a go. ENCA will therefore continue to publish a blog from James here on its website, accounting his experience of flightless-travel as he goes along.

ENCA and James are also asking people to donate to ENCA, in a very similar manner to sponsored hitch-hikes and bike rides. We really hope that everyone who is at all inspired by this attempt to look at alternative travel, or interested in James’ experiences, will take the time to donate to ENCA using the paypal buttons on this page.

For those of you as yet unaware of what we do, we invite you to take a further look around our website, look at who we are and the things we’ve funded, browse through the newsletters we create and send out 3 times a year, and have a look at our other projects. Please then donate to us, or even better, fill in and send us a membership form, as regular membership payments make a small organisation like ENCA able to keep running.

We hope to be able to regularly update this page showing how much we’ve raised though online donations since the start of this campaign, towards our target of £1000.*


The plan (so far)

First of all, James is planning on going to Egypt to meet friends, via a ferry from Mersin in Southern Turkey. On the way to Mersin, James intends to hitch-hike through Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria, and to use couch-surfing to find places to stay along the way.

After Egypt, James will travel by the same methods back up to Le Havre in North France, where he gets a cargo ship that will take him on a 17 day journey across the Atlantic to Guatemala in Central America.

From there, much of the rest of his travel is likely to be by local buses and coaches. So far, he is planning on going swiftly to Nicaragua where he intends to volunteer for 3 months with a partner of ENCA, Clinica Xochil.

That is the plan so far, but more is to come – please keep looking here for much more info!

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* To clarify the situation around this fundraising:

  1. ENCA is unable to use Justgiving to raise money online as we might like – we are a very small organisation with an annual turnover of less than £5000. We are not registered with the charity commission, which means we cannot register with Justgiving, and have to use our own paypal links and tell you how much we’ve raised afterwards
  2. Any money raised will go straight to ENCA to be used as part of their normal activities – grants to Central American partners, newsletter costs, and some small running costs – none of the donations or ENCA’s money will go to support James’ travel, which is all personally supported
  3. James intends to travel entirely without flying on his journey where he is able to, but it is possible he may have to, for emergencies or other reasons. If this happens he will certainly blog about it, but ENCA won’t be able to reimburse donations!
  4. ENCA is in no way, legally or otherwise, responsible for James or his safety on his trip