Hello. We’re Kirstie and Arthur, and we’re travellers who quit flying.
Travel for us means going on the hunt for spectacular views, cultural quirks, and foods we’ve never had before. On the road you’ll probably find us up a mountain, on the trail of our next meal, or chilling out with a beer or a coffee watching the world go by.
We love visiting new places and meeting people with different perspectives. But we’re also pretty freaked out about climate change, so we’re trying our best to see the world without melting it in the process.
Salt With Your Coffee began in 2015 as a record of our trip around the world without flying. We’ve been together for nearly nine years, and this round the world adventure was our first long trip together. After 14 months on the road, remarkably we were still married, so we settled down in New Zealand for a bit of a rest.
We set off from London on Sunday the 4th of October 2015, and arrived in New Zealand on December 2nd 2016. On the way we visited Holland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
You can check out our route here.
Instead of flying we’ve travelled by train, bus, ferry, tram, bicycle, subway, trolleybus, chair lift, minibus, car, funicular, electric cart, motorbike, sidecar, remork, barge, kayak, pick-up truck, tuc tuc, monorail, trishaw, campervan and longtail boat, and even done a few bits on foot.
We ended up taking two flights on our journey from the UK to New Zealand. The first from Hanoi to Hong Kong after we couldn’t get passage on a cargo ship from Singapore to Australia, and then had a visa glitch on the way to get a ship from Hong Kong instead. The second flight brought us to a family Christmas in New Zealand, when we were couldn’t find a boat or a ship to get us there in time. It turns out crossing oceans without planes is tough these days.
Why we don’t fly
We gave up flying in 2011, after I read a book called How to Live a Low Carbon Life. Reading about the carbon footprint of various activities, I began to appreciate what a huge impact flying has on the planet.
As an example, a return flight from London to New York emits somewhere between 3.5 and 5 tonnes of CO2 per passenger (depending on where you get your data).
Estimates for a ‘safe’ level of CO2 emissions per year for each person are around 1.5 to 2 tonnes.
So there’s not really room for flying in a one-planet life.
(You can read more about why we don’t fly, and why it’s hard to talk about it in a post I shared back in September 2016.)
Since 2011 we’ve taken four flights: two on our round-the-world trip, and a return flight in Europe to make it to a wedding that we could only get one day off work for. So we’ve not done a perfect job, but we are trying, and we think that’s important.
Awkward circumstances aside, it’s been surprisingly easy not to fly, and we’ve been on some great trips without planes. We’ve explored Europe by train, from the mountains to the beaches, and since we set off round the world we’ve been having even bigger adventures by train. Across the whole of Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway for example.
It’s not all about trains either.
So much of travel for us is about the journey, and you learn and see so much more bumping around Myanmar on the world’s slowest train, or observing China roll by from the comfort of your sleeper bunk, or sharing your soap with a room full of naked middle aged Korean ladies as you sail away from Japan, than you ever could speeding along in a hermetic bubble at 35,000 feet.
Yes, planes are easy, but they’re pretty dull. And heck do you appreciate arriving more when you’ve sat in a bus all day to get somewhere. (After the first beer at least.)
We enjoy travelling without flying so much so that I think we’d do it without the environmental imperative. It’s not always quick, cheap, or glamorous, but it’s almost always worth the effort to find your way somewhere without a plane.
We hope you enjoy coming along on the adventure with us!