My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Choices, Cost and Carbon offset

Another day of sorting out visas and tickets, hopefully by the end of tomorrow I will have everything sorted to get me to Beijing at least! Thanks so much for all the comments, I will try to address some of the issues here, sorry I can’t respond to every question. This is all such a surprise to me, I didn’t think anyone would be so interested in what I am doing, but I am glad I have sparked a debate. I think it is important to think about this in terms of both the impact of air flight on our environment and a much wider debate about the future for our environment.
I was reflecting today on how easy it is in Machynlleth to make the right choices, it is easy to recycle and compost my waste and I can easily save water and energy too. There are shops and a market where I can buy local food and I can cycle everywhere, even though it is often steep up a mountain (I have lost weight and am fitter too). I wonder how easy it will be when I am away? People have questioned how ‘green’ I will be along the way and mentioned taxis and food as two examples. I don’t take taxis now and do not intend to start. Most bus and train stations are more likely to be in the centre of a city than an airport. Unless there is a desperate need for a taxi (or it is horse drawn) like I am about to miss the boat to Australia, then it is walking for me. In terms of food, I need to eat on the way and would eat if I was at home anyway. Like now, I will always search out local and fresh (organic?) food, which may be easier in certain areas of Southeast Asia anyway, any ideas anyone? I read about a load of cafes in Vietnam where they train street kids in catering and get them work in cafes so I will try to find one of them too. It is all about choices, and I will try to make the best one.
In terms of cost, my trip is more expensive but it is not out of reach for anyone, you just need to save longer. All the visas are expensive to sort out but otherwise it is ok. The bus to Moscow is £132, The Trans-Siberian £190. I have seen various prices for the train from Beijing to Hanoi between £80 and £160. Trains, buses and boats in the rest of Southeast Asia seem very cheap. The boat to Australia is £1000, this is the most expensive bit and although it will be a great experience to be on the cargo ship I will prefer to sail out of Oz as it will be cheaper and greener.
Carbon Offsets
What about carbon offsets? This is a difficult one to answer and my feelings are mixed. We really need to reduce carbon emissions in the first place, and all those trees just hold onto the carbon ‘til it is released anyway when the tree dies. I think offsetting by direct energy saving activities is better such as buying low energy light-bulbs (they save you money!) or improving insulation in your home.


At 10:26 am, August 24, 2006, Blogger Andrew said...

Check out vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok. I think some of the ingredients are organic and the food was amazing.

I think what you are doing is great. Something I would definitely like to try out in the future. I would say if air travel gets prohibitively expensive we may see more boats going between big cities. Although I read somewhere that cargo ships use nearly as much energy as aircraft?

At 1:56 am, August 25, 2006, Blogger LimePulp said...

Hi Babs

Don't worry about the peole who leave negative post, how many of them have done anything that has got so many peolpe not only in the UK but from reading the other nice post all other the world talking about carbom emissions.

As a friend I know your not aiming to chance the world, your just one girl taking a small step towards getting people to at least start thinking about what we are doing to the planet today, so that at least our grandchild will be able to go outside and still enjoy the fresh air.

If everybody who reads your blog goes out and just buy a couple of low enegry light bulbs then over the years your one small step will have turned into a giant leap, if not for mankind then at least for the planet.

Oh when I said OUR grandkids I meant OUR as in the worlds not OUR's

As someone has already said, loads of pictures from the trip

If you can hitchhike out of wales in the rain then getting to Brisbane will be a piece of cake, chocolate or carrot I'll leave that choss up to you.

Best of luck again Babs with your trip, your an amazing lady going on an amazing trip, far better and more exciting than sitting in a plane for 20 hours or in front of a computer posting negative thoughts....

At 8:47 pm, August 25, 2006, Blogger Rinaldo said...

Hey. I'm from South Africa and I've been contemplating something similar for a while. I run my own business but that's keeping me tied down at the moment. The only suggestion that I could make, that would result in virtually zero emission is if you walk/cycle to your nearest small craft harbour and possibly find employment on a sail boat/yacht. Brisbane being a coastal city with a small craft harbour means you could walk/cycle to the brides home once you arrive. Hopefully someone would be supportive enough to offer you the opportunity to do this. Time may be a factor though. If Cook could to Aus. then I'm sure you can too! Good luck!

At 6:17 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger vanessa said...

I have just read about your plans in a newspaper in New Zealand and just want to say what you are doing is just wonderful. Forget those who are negative - there are too many people in the world ready to put others down.
You go girl and I will enjoy following your adventures and journey!!

At 7:14 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger Spider said...


I did a very simalar trip to you earlier this year but I took a flight from dublin to Latvia and a plane from singapore to Melbourne.

I wrote many blog entries about the travel it took me 5 months but I was stopping over along the way.

Anyway good luck have a fantasic time.

At 7:19 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger Spider said...

Sorry here is my blog

At 7:26 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger Johanna said...

I am german and 64 and will follow your journey very closely. I wish you well and am full of envy for all the wonderful adventures you will have (hopefully only wonderful ones).

I hope, we will be able to participate a little like this.

Have a great time.


At 10:26 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger nzgeekgrrl said...


On the way, I'd suggest from being on the Trans Siberian railway, take some pictures of your home for people to look at, most people you'll meet will never ever get a chance to do what you are doing, and are really interested to see what your day to day life and environment are like. Wee things that don't take much space (like small coins and so on) are neat .. well, I'm a kiwi, and we have coins with local flora and fauna we can give away! Also, take some nibbles/coffee/tea/chocolate with you - hot water is easy, but when you feel hungry you may want to be able to stump up food on demand!
If you get a chance - check out Lake Baikal - Hovsgull down further (in Mongolia) is also absolutely amazing, but Baikal is huge, clean (or was a while ago) and one of the treasures of the world.
Have a fabulous trip :-)

At 12:24 pm, August 26, 2006, Blogger steve said...

Hi Babs

Fantastic trip! Totally support what you're doing. I've only recently found out how bad air travel is (why is this not widely publisised?)

I live in New Zealand so maybe I have to get used to travel by boat!

Have a wonderful time

At 5:49 pm, August 26, 2006, Blogger Robert van de Walle said...

One our own journey towards being more earth friendly, my family and I ended up living out of hotels and at friends' homes for about 5 weeks. We went from buying local food and preparing it in our kitchen and composting the scraps, living in our energy and resource efficient rental unit, to having to buy meals others had prepared, generating great amounts of waste we couldn't control, living in places without compost heaps or even recycling, let alone compact flourescents, and driving much more as we were off our public transit corridors.

I saw what a tremendous opportunity there is, for a "green" hotel/motel experience.

At 2:35 am, August 27, 2006, Blogger Marie said...

Six weeks! Not much time. A similar trip took me about six months. Maybe five, but I meandered a fair bit.
KOTO in Hanoi is a restaurant that trains street kids and disadvantaged kids to work in its restaurant. First time I went it was a sandwich shop, now it's a big restaurant. Maybe a bit pricey for Hanoi.

There are horse-drawn taxis in parts of Indonesia, but you're right to catch the ship in Singapore as it gets much harder to go from Indo to Oz than from Singapore to Oz. And public buses are everywhere, no need to take a private taxi. Follow local advice.

Good luck and take your time--at least once the wedding is over. The wedding is the hard part. Much easier to get on a bus in a foreign country or rest for a week on a freighter than people would have you believe.

At 6:06 pm, August 27, 2006, Blogger Liz said...

You rock, Babs. :)

You are thinking about the consequences of our seemingly small actions, and I salute you for that. We think nothing of hopping on a plane to go to another continent for a weekend. That kind of thinking really needs to stop, and we should begin reserving travel to far-off lands for special occasions, exactly as you're doing.
Safe travels!

At 4:16 pm, August 28, 2006, Blogger City Hippy said...


Think this a great idea, bound to be negative posters...what did Gandhi say:

First they laugh at you,
Then they get angry at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win...

Will be following your trip...well done!



At 10:15 am, August 29, 2006, Blogger tanya said...

Hey Babs,

You are a star, what an adventure! take care and have loads of fun. Overland travel is so much more part of the whole travel thing. Plane journeys are so boring- it won't be long before we won't be able to rely on cheap flights anyway so we may as well get used to overland and sea travel and some fun with it.

When my daughter is a bit older i intend to take her abroad via boats and trains- so much
more interesting than cars and planes.

love Tanya

At 6:50 am, August 31, 2006, Blogger hae babi 123 said...

It's really gr8 wot ur doing, but it's a lil' expensive, and though u'll have been using less carbon dioxcide, you'll still be damaging the environment in 1 way or another... But I support u in wot ur doing as it's 4 a good cause.Just listen to ur heart, and u'll b fine. And i say GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 9:24 am, September 02, 2006, Blogger Smallsy said...

I'd hate for you to get to Brisbane and find yourself at the wharf with no idea how to get to your destination. For a bit of forward planning visit

It'll give you the route and timings to navigate around Brisbane.

If you get to Perth (mind you it's a bloody long cycle) - try

At 9:29 am, September 02, 2006, Blogger Smallsy said...

It would be unfortuneate if you traveled all the way to Brisbane on a carbon shoestring budget only to be overwhelmed by baffling Australian public transport. Here are two websites that'll help travellers visting Brisbane and Perth navigate with ease. (brisvegas)

At 2:22 am, October 08, 2006, Blogger haebabi101 said...

It's really gr8 wot ur doin' 4 da environment. But ships csn use up quite a lot of energy...Neway if I were u I'd GO 4 IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 9:55 am, October 27, 2006, Blogger ru said...

Babs Hi.
I think what you are doing is brilliant. Well done. I run a small carbon offset company called based near Tregaron. Don't worry this is not going to be a negative post! In our management plan for our forests we have tried really hard to address the problem that you mention of the CO2 flowing back to the atmosphere once the tree dies. We only grow hardwood trees which will be harvested for timber on maturity.If the wood is kept dry it can last for nundreds of years. I don't know if you are aware of it but trees are probably responsible for absorbing 20-25% of all human CO2 emissions. We desperately need more of them not less of them.
Have a brilliant trip.

Ru hartwell


Post a Comment

<< Home