What does travel mean to you? For most people, it’s destination, destination, destination. It has little to do with the journey and instead is the experience of being whisked automagically away to another place, usually by plane. The Guardian recently published an article highlighting people who have chosen to eschew flying, some for an entire year, others for far longer. The images conjured in our minds when we think about travel often feature airports, planes or far away locales. What would our travel goals look like if we couldn’t, because of personal choice, fear, the environment or economics, fly anywhere?
When I was growing up, we went camping. My parents wanted us to understand where we came from before venturing further and there was no way we could have afforded to travel for two to three weeks without staying in campgrounds, buying groceries and cooking a fair number of meals. We likely had entire vacations that cost the same as the airfare alone to fly our family of 5 overseas. There were no exotic locales. But we learned the distance between our home and PEI (it’s really, really far at least when you’re 16 and trapped in a minivan) and we saw lots of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Maine, Vermont and New York. We also learned that we could never go anywhere without my dad running into someone he knew (seriously: Northern Ontario? Check. Vermont? Yes. Hiking on a trail on Cape Breton Island? Also mind-bogglingly true, after which my brothers and I attributed such things to the mysterious inner workings of the universe.)
Flying magically erases the distance between two places, no matter how remote, but other kinds of travel—walking, biking and even car or train travel—can better enable us to understand all the spaces, places and people in between, slowly crawling over the earth.