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.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Reply to all my wellwishers (or not!)

Wow, Thanks everyone for all your comments, even the bad ones, even though I think it is pretty unkind to make pathetic and rude comments about my life, and whether I shave my legs or not. It is these kind of attitudes which just reflect how our world is going to pot. To those of you who think I haven't researched this then you are wrong, I have spent a lot of my own time and a lot of generous time from my friends to help me do this. I am not relying on any money from anyone to help me, I have earnt it all myself the good old fashioned way and worked. I have worked at the Centre for Alternative Technology for the last year and a half and there they have been working for a long time with other partners to calculate the carbon emissions and environmental damage of all different types of transport. The calculations we have made based on this rigourous scientific study show that my one way trip will create 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide as compared to 5.2 tonnes on a flight. This is still a lot I know and yes the best thing would be to stay at home, but this is a really special occasion, one of my best friend's wedding, and I haven't taken this decision lightly. I will still do what I can to offset these emissions and on the return hope to get more sailing in, which is very clean. I am not trying to preach to you about how you should live your lives so don't preach to me, this is what I believe in and I am going to follow it, so if you can't help or wish me luck then find somewhere else to look. Thanks Babs


At 12:42 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Paddy said...

Hi Babs,

I think you are doing just fine and I wish you all the best to your trip. I have your blog in my RSS feed, so I will be up-to-date
Although I wouldn't hesitate taking a plane around the world, I would definitely do your trip just for the experience that you are about to face. I have met a guy who had travelled via Moscow, Beijing, Bangkok and Delhi to Nepal just by train and buses, so there shouldn't be much of a problem.
BTW, your project was featured on the German web site of "Der Spiegel", Germany's equivalent to TIME magazine.
A good reason to love the internet ;-)

Take care on your trip, and be sure there are plenty of people who'd just love to be walking in your shoes right now.


At 1:04 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Lady Kate said...

I read about your trip in the Observer and am amazed and inspired by what you are setting out to do. I wish you the very best of luck and if I am honest am more than a little jealous of the amazing adventure you are about the have.
If only more people werre brave enough to do something like this. Ignore all the nagativity - thats just not even worth thinking about.
Good luck and enjoy.

At 1:09 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger blackboru said...

Good luck Babs! It's a great adventure, you're being a good friend, you're making a far more positive and meaningful statement doing it your way than flying and it's putting/ keeping climate change and long distance travels impact on that in the headlines and getting ppl talking about it. More power to your elbow!

At 1:29 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Steven said...

Good luck with your trip!

It has certainly raised the profile of the carbon impact of various forms of transport, and I am interested in the emissions projections that you have posted. Can you explain a bit more about how they were calculated, and post a reference for the scientific study you used?

At 1:58 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger chris said...

Hey Babs,

This brilliant. I think the fact you are getting a lot of criticm is also good as it gives you the opportunity to address the ignorant.

1.4 tonnes compared to 5.2. That is a great difference, especially when you also consider the time factor. Governments are under pressure to reduce carbon emissions per year. So 1.4 tonnes in 30 days (lets say) is much much better than 5.2 tonnes in 10 hours.

Well done and big up!

At 2:04 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger butterflysue1 said...

Bore Da Babs,
I've also lived the simple frugal life for over 3yrs now moving from Cheshire to Barbados to renovate a country house arriving with just clothes, a few tools cup, plate and cutlery. Managed well all the hard work is done and website up and running. Solar heating, energy saving bulbs photovoltics on the wishlist for the pool. Just need like minded guests now - nature lovers, hikers, painters - disserning travellers. Please check me out The world is too caught up in things. Most people who need things wouldn;t be able to cope in a crisis. What would they do without sell by dates!! I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Go Girl!!!

At 3:47 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Bellis said...

Hi Babs

What you're doing is just great! Saw your story on the ABC website here in Brisbane. When you get here you're very welcome at 'Bellis', my home and also Brisbane city's first sustainable house and garden.

if you've got the bandwith (lots of photos & stuff) please take a look at this frighteningly suburban view of sustainability!


At 4:54 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Rhys Wynne said...

Pob lwc gyda'r daith

All the best with the trip

At 5:55 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Richard said...

Hi babs,

First off have a good time on your trip. Secondly, I'm pretty sure the overland approach will reduce emmissions.

I was intrigued to find so many people suggesting that it would use more carbon to go overland so I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

The tyndall centre for climate change research publish the emmissions per mile as follows:

MODE OF TRAVEL grams of CO2 per mile
Petrol 298
Diesel 225
Hybrid 200
Rail 116
Air 340
Taxi 357
Coach / Bus 90
Tube 171

The numbers orginally come from the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)

With these numbers you can see that rail and coach (most likely forms of transport) produce less than a third of the CO2. Even if she has to go twice as far the emmissions will still be less.

So, i believe babs is entirely justified in her trip. Where did all these ideas about planes being the most efficient form of transport come from? references anyone?

Anyway, good luck on the trip. Don't let the naysayers bring you down.



At 6:14 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger David H Jones said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:19 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger David H Jones said...

I would be interested in what it all costs you. How much/more does your journey cost compared to flying?
Which is the most expensive cost per mile?
I guess the cheapest cost per mile is when you manage to hitchhike!
All the best, it will be a great expierence and I look forward to reading your blogs.
Take care.

At 6:22 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger David H Jones said...

I would be interested in what it costs you. How much/more does your journey cost compared to flying?
Which is the most expensive cost per mile?
I guess the cheapest cost per mile is when you manage to hitchhike!
All the best, it will be a great expierence and I look forward to reading you blogs.

At 1:21 am, August 22, 2006, Blogger Jocko said...


Most importantly, you should follow your own heart and desires. As a pilot, engineer, and aviation enthusiast, I would like to to offer the other side of the argument, in simple terms.

The numbers you have provided regarding co2 emissions represent the total emessions, per vehicle, for a given trip sector. It is necessary to divide these numbers by the number of passengers, to obtain a 'per person' amount of emissions.

You will find that, per person, the amount of emissions is less with air travel. It is also important to note that it takes more trips to transport the same number of passengers by auto, rail, and ship.

So, one trip like you are taking sounds more eco-friendly than flying, but when you realize that it will have to be done several times, or more, to move the same amount of people, you see that it is, in fact, polluting the environment more.

All that being said, enjoy your trip, as it will be truly unforgettable.

At 2:45 am, August 22, 2006, Blogger Kwong said...

I'm unsure if this has been addressed.
Do these emmission numbers factor in the number of people travelling? Are these numbers per person mile travelled and how many persons for each mode?

At 9:53 am, August 22, 2006, Blogger Brad McMahon said...

Well done!
I think you are doing a great thing and are going to have a real adventure.
Much better than sitting on a stinky plane in "cattle class" for 15 hours. I have flown the UK route a couple of times and it really is horrible.
Maybe, if there is a next time, I'll take the long way!

At 5:11 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Gareth said...


I think you will have a fantastic time! I travelled along the Trans Siberian last year and it was amazing! It suprised me how much more CO2 is used to fly to Australia compared to how much you will be using. Best of luck to you and I hope you have a great time at the wedding!

Kind regards,


At 5:14 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Gareth said...


I just wanted to wish you the very best of luck on your trip, and I hope you have a wonderful time! It has suprised me how much more CO2 is used to fly to Australia compared to how much you will be using! I travelled along the Trans Siberian Express last year and had a great time, I'm sure you'll love it!

All the best


At 10:17 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger toler said...

good luck you crazy girl ;-)

At 2:07 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger 123ash said...

Hello Babs,
I was very excited when I stumbled accross your trip to see somebody else planning the same thing that I am. However, I am travelling from Oz to the Uk. I am hoping you can help me, could you please let me know how you are getting from Singapore to Brisbane as I am having great trouble with this bit. My email address is if you would like to help me!
Thanks so much and best of luck!

At 4:12 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger adam said...

Go Babs, this is going to make you and tear you apart, if life doesn't just do that to you anyway huh! yes twas a good party, was reading Proust the next day who was going on about how he'd rather witness a raucous social climbers ball than the best high society one and it reminded me of us, hope our combined lippiness was as good for you as it was for me.


At 9:29 am, August 31, 2006, Blogger marianned said...

Well done Babs, I heard your story on the evening radio news last night, and I will be following your trip with great interest. I have crossed to Australia twice by air travel, but just maybe the next time I will follow your route. Good Luck, Marian

At 11:45 pm, September 02, 2006, Blogger John said...

Hi Babs,
I have just read an article on your trip in the New Zealand Herald. I want to wish you the best of fortune in your journey.

My wife and I were also inspired to travel a similar journey from Christchurch New Zealand to London without flying. It can be done, although not always how you expect. There are very few who have atempted this journey and succeeded, but you have solved the most difficult part, crossing the water between Southeast Asia and Australia.

There is an entertaining book written by Peter Moore, "The Wrong Way Home". He tries to travel from London to Sydney without flying, but unfortunately gets stuck in Indonesia and has to resort to flying the last leg. I met him in London at a book release for a new book of his, and talking to him afterwards, he was not aware of anyone else managing the complete trip without flying in recent years.

My own journey started by crewing on an 1800's style square rigged saling ship from NZ to Micronesia to Japan to South Korea. Then ferry to China, across Tibet to Nepal, then India. Unfortunately India and Pakistan were on the verge of war at the time and couldnt get a visa. After 6 weeks I managed to arrange a container ship from India up through the Suez Canal to Malta. After this Ferry to Sicily, Italy Switzerland, France, UK. The journey took 7 months and was the most rewarding experience of my life.

I travelled on a German container ship. for 3 weeks. It was very clean and professional. All the officers and Engineers were German and the rest of the crew were Philipino. My wife felt safe on board. If they have a party, you will probably have to dance with all the crew. They had a large colection of books and Videos on board, but unfortunately they were all in German. You might want to stock up on reading material before hand as ther is not a lot else to do.

This will shape your future and be something you remember for the rest of your life.

Wishing you all the best.

At 10:59 am, September 04, 2006, Blogger dswilson said...

Hi Babs,
I came across your site today as I am trying to plan a similar journey to Canada. It's certainly not as easy as the low-cost carriers!
I'd like to say that it's great to know that there are those out there with similar visions! Good luck on your journey and I look forward to reading about your adventures, particularly what it's like spending all that time on trains and ships.
Take care of yourself


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