Monday, September 19, 2016

A restless city dweller going back to nature - an alternative to air travel

Posted by Amanda Villaruel |
Most people I know go hiking in the nearby forest or mountains to get away from their hectic life in the city.

I on the other hand, have always thought that I had to travel far to experience new things or to unwind. Whenever I became restless, I would travel to Asia or book a flight for a long weekend somewhere in Europe.

It seems ironic that I'm willing to travel across the globe to get an adrenaline kick, when I could easily achieve it locally. I guess it's the mystery surrounding a new and far-away destination that appeals to me. And I'm probably not the only one.

However, in the past year, I've felt it was time to think differently. I can't hop on the plane every time I become restless. Not only is air travel expensive, but also environmentally unfriendly. Although air travel is not the worst culprit, it still has repercussions for our planet in the form of increased greenhouse gas emissions.

I don't want to stop traveling entirely, but I need an outlet for my adventurous side.

So what's the alternative?
Østmarka in Oslo.

First of all, what are some of the impacts of air travel?

  1. The aviation industry accounts for approx. 2% of the global CO2 emissions. In the UK alone, the aviation industry represents 13-15% of total greenhouse gas emissions.1. In wealthy - but tiny Norway, the air travel is responsible for approx. 12,5% of total greenhouse gas emissions.2 (I suspect that charter trips has something to do with the high number.)

  2. The further you travel, the greater the emissions. With more airlines offering cheap prices for long-distance destinations, the numbers ought to rise. 

  3. A new study suggests that it's more likely to die from plane exhaust than in a plane crash, considering the toxic air pollutants.3

With this information at hand, I can't ignore the fact that flying less should be one of my goals for reducing my carbon footprint. The next best thing would be to explore areas nearby ;-)

Post continues below the photos.
My boyfriend taking a break.
Photo courtesy of Andreios Belaza.
Ready for wild mushroom trip.
Photo courtesy of Andreios Belaza.
Østmarka in Oslo, Norway.
Photo courtesy of Andreios Belaza
Looking for 'Yellow foot' chanterelle.
Photo courtesy of Andreios Belaza.

After a couple of trips in the woods with my beau (who btw can sit on a large rock, stare at the skies, and do nothing), I've come to realize that hiking is an undervalued way of exploring. It's a great way to unwind and experience the true beauty that a city tends to lack.

"A visit to your local forest or a train ride to the nearby mountain are excellent alternatives to air travel." 

It might sound like a cliché, but exploring the local greenery has its benefits:
  1. Avoid the air pollution in the city and breathe in fresh air
  2. Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress and boost well-being.4
  3. Traveling to local places can be cheaper than air travel
  4. Time to unwind and reflect on things you normally don't have time to think about - great for decision making

Read: A hike to Gaustatoppen in Norway.

There are many ways of exploring the woods. If you're like me who wants to do more than simply walk around on the forest floor and breathe the fresh air, here are some suggestions:
  • Forage for wild berries, such as blueberries and raspberries 
  • Forage for wild mushrooms, including chanterelle and porcini
  • Pick flowers for pressing or for decoration
  • Gather pine cones and twigs for DIY projects
  • Observe frogs (might sound silly, but this brings back childhood memories)

It's about appreciating the things that are right in front of us. It doesn't have to be complicated to experience something new :-)

What are your thoughts about exploring the greenery instead of air travel? Please share in the comment field below :-)
Observing a frog, wouldn't leave my hand.
Observing a frog, wouldn't leave my hand.
Photo courtesy of Katrine Halvorsen

Continue to read:
An environmentalist choosing between the lesser of two evils.

The rainforest - 9 things you probably didn't know.


Have your say about what you just read :)

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