About Us

Hello, we’re Kirstie and Arthur.

We’re on a trip around the world without flying, and we’re writing about our travels on Salt With Your Coffee.

We love visiting new places, eating interesting foods, meeting people, taking in spectacular views, and chilling out in temples and parks, or with a beer or a coffee, watching the world go by.  But we’re also pretty freaked out about climate change, so we’re doing our best to travel the world without melting it in the process.

We’ve been together for nearly nine years, and our round the world adventure is our first long trip together.  So far we’re still married.  Kirstie does most of the writing and talking about herself in the third person.  Arthur provides tech support, coffee and constructive criticism.

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We set off on Sunday the 4th of October 2015, and so far we’ve visited Holland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.  You can have a look at some of our route here. (It’s pretty sketchy at the moment to be honest.)

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.

Spoiler: we haven’t quite managed not to fly on our journey from the UK to New Zealand, but we’ve got pretty close.  A visa glitch and family commitments have meant we’ve taken two flights.  But we’re learning all the time, so we’re pretty sure we can manage the rest of the way at ground (/sea) level.  Fingers crossed!

Why we don’t fly

We quit (tried to quit) flying in 2011 after I read a book about the carbon footprint of various activities, and began to appreciate what a huge impact flying has on the planet.

For example, a return flight from London to New York is responsible for emitting between 3.6 and 4.9 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, depending on who you ask.  Estimates for the ‘safe’ level of CO2 emissions per person per year are around 1.5 to 2 tonnes.

I’ve written more about our decision not to fly in Why we don’t fly, and why it’s hard to talk about it.

Since we switched to other forms of transport we’ve been on some great trips.  We’ve explored various corners of Europe by train, from the mountains to the beaches, and since we set off round the world we’ve been having even bigger adventures.  Across the whole of Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway for example!  We discovered 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 train 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 man do you appreciate arriving more when you’ve sat in a bus all day to get there.  Well, after the first beer anyway…

We enjoy travelling without flying so much so that I think we’d do it without the environmental imperative.  It’s not always easy, but it’s usually worth the effort to find your way somewhere without a plane.

We hope you enjoy coming along on the adventure with us!

K&A

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

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