(Image snagged from this NYT article on a budget-airfare challenge)

So, it seems the golden age of Budget travel is coming to an end by most accounts. The recent decision by American Airline to charge fees for the first time ever on checked baggage certainly sounded like a death knell to me. Oil, and it’s irratating tendency to become stupidly expensive is, of course the culprit cited.

Another possible factor in the decline of air travel (which really probably hasn’t made a dent yet) is the rise of slow travel – eco friendly alternatives to flying. At first, slow travel seemed a bit far fetched and the arguments for how much more pleasant and meaningful slow travel would be compared to the rushed experience of airplane felt like mom telling you zucchini is fun cuz it’s good for you. Right.

But maybe attitudes are changing. A recent article in the Guardian puts a different spin on it and refers to a return to “Real Travel”. The causes for the disenchantment with flying are the common list:

[T]he emails I receive via my website seat61.com suggest that we’re already falling out of love with flying. It’s not as cheap as it once was, as budget carriers have added baggage fees and booking fees to shore up their profits. Any glamour associated with flying is long gone, thanks to security hassles, two-hour check-ins and frequent delays. And last but not least, the environmental impact of short haul flights is prompting many of us to think before we fly.

And the “maybe this isn’t so bad” part:

Europe’s high-speed train operators now offer “budget” fares of their own, and the less stressful, more environmentally sound overland option is often a more practical alternative than the average short-haul flier imagines.

… a journey by train (or by sea) can be quality time with your family away from door bells and phone calls, a chance to relax and enjoy scenery over a glass of red, or (if you’re working) productive time with laptop plugged in at your seat and no interruptions from the boss. A train journey is a gentle and welcome introduction to the country you’re visiting, a chance to “decompress” at leisure instead of being plunged in all too quickly after that tedious teleport from Luton or Stansted. There really is more to travel than just the destination.

I would have to agree about the trains. I don’t often get to go by train here in Spain, buses are usually cheaper, but I really do appreciate them, and far prefer them to a car normally – you can’t safely nap while driving, and you don’t have to park the train.

Of course, this is less about convincing you to go slow cuz it’s good for the environment and more about not going on planes because they’re no longer going to be cheap and the conditions are hellish – less “zucchini is good for you” and more “it’s cheaper than burgers and won’t give you a heart attack.”

Anyways, if it leads to the same outcome – less pollution, and more people having meaningful journeys- it’s all good then, no?

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