About Us

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.

IMAG1635.jpg
Kirstie does most of the writing and talking about herself in the third person.

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.

We discovered that we love cycle touring when we cycled the length of Vietnam on a whim, and experienced the joys of karaoke night on an Asian cruise ferry.  (Guess what, it’s every night!)

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!

0 thoughts on “About Us

  1. A great trip you have there and I really admire your commitment to sustainability and the environment. We too have gone off flying recently and prefer ‘proper’ travel. For us living in Hong Kong it’s fairly doable as we have ships calling and of course China’s huge train network – wishing you good luck and happy travels !

    1. Thanks! Yes, we really enjoy the journey most of the time and much prefer seeing the sights along the way. I totally sympathise with the desire to jet off somewhere exciting, I feel it too, but it’s amazing how easily you can get to all sorts of interesting places by train, sea etc. We were lucky to have the whole of Europe easily accessible when we lived in the UK. A bit trickier if you live somewhere more isolated like New Zealand, but hopefully we can prove it’s still possible! Hong Kong’s a great place to call home – we loved it and ending up spending ten days when we’d planned five. Post on that coming up at some point!

  2. Hello Kirstie and Arthur.

    I read about Your idea to “save our planet”. It is great idea – I agree. In our world, there are so many unemployed that some of them have been lucky when employed by airline companies. I belong to this group and I am proud that I had possibility to work for my airline company Finnair. It offered to me huge possibilities in my life, For example, I found world’s best music Cumbia in Peru. It consoled me when my life was at bottom. I had possibility to put my children to French school in Helsinki. Thus, they learned to speak French completely. I learned Spanish, French and Portuguese while working in addition to languages, which I knew before, English, German and Swedish. Few years before retiring, I learned programming and I made few database programs for my company. My company encouraged me, “old” man to this.

    Languages, which I needed in my job, enriched me to understand better foreign countries, their cultures, Traditions, habits, music. I can say that if I would not have been by airline, I would be nearly unaware about surrounding world. I have a car and have driven abroad and everywhere in my country. Now since I retired in 2004, I have photographed everywhere in my country Finland. If not having my car, all this would not have been possible. For example, I have in my blog more than 24000 photos.

    Here is my story:

    About me.

    All the best to You and Your idea. I wish that You have respect also towards people who fly and drive car.

    Matti.

    1. Hello Matti, thanks for reading and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Nice to hear different perspectives. Your comment has got me thinking about all sorts of things, and I’m hoping to make a post out of my ideas in the next few days. I’d love to hear what you think when I do.

      A (relatively) short answer though…

      Absolutely there are positives to having a world connected more closely by airlines. And apart from providing jobs, the possibility to travel a long distance in a short time is a wonderful thing in an emergency. I wouldn’t say we would never fly for any reason, rather that we choose not to do so just for leisure.

      I totally agree that people connecting with and learning about other cultures is a brilliant thing personally, and for the world. With the internet it’s more and more possible to do this without going anywhere (I’m sat in Hanoi, talking to you in Finland. Hi!), but there’s nothing quite like actually going to a place.

      I would argue that there are many ways to see the world and learn about it, and while it’s great that you got so much from your work, really only a small number of people can work for airlines. We would like to encourage people who are travelling on their own to do so as greenly as they can, both for the planet and because travelling more slowly is often a wonderful experience. We generally thoroughly enjoy the journey (though not every day, I must admit).

      I wouldn’t say our idea is to ‘save the world’, rather to limit the negative effect we have on it. Linguistics maybe, but important to me. I think ‘saving the world’ can become idealistic to the point of not meaning very much. We hope to be more pragmatic, and offer some practical ways to live well and tread lightly on the earth. It’s such a beautiful place (as your photos demonstrate!), and we’ve only got one!

      P.S. We had a car before we started our round the world trip! We had to get to work somehow. 🙂

  3. I stumbled upon your excellent blog in my reader while scanning the long-term travel tag. I read a couple of your posts, and found them very honest and captivating. I am looking forward to reading about your next adventure.

    1. Thank you very much! Your words came at just the right time. I’ve been thinking about what I’m trying to achieve here, and I’m glad you said honest – this is something I wasn’t sure if I was doing ‘well enough’.
      Had a quick look at your blog too, I’ll have a proper read later, but I love the idea of spending a month in each place – food for thought for the next part of our trip!

      1. Hi Kristie, Esther and I are in a different stage of life than you and Arthur, but we are experimenting with travel just like you. So far, we have found that one month in a place allows us to relax and take advantage of monthly discounts on lodging. We have traded “seeing everything” for a deeper understanding of the places we are fortunate to visit. As you know, travel itself is the greatest teacher. All the best, Joe & Es

Join the conversation!