Travel without flying

I enjoy finding websites that represent businesses trying to make-money and help the world at the same time. My latest find is UK based, which as the name suggests, is about traveling without taking a flight.

The company has put together an expansive bundle of travel-itineraries for people who want environmentally conscious travel. From the UK, they have ready packages that, other than Europe, will take you to China, Russia, Morocco, and Turkey. You can travel by bus, train or boat and choose the type of holiday you want basis categories like: “big sky, mountains, lakes”, “6-hours from London”, “tracks less traveled” and “mix-it-up”. They will tailor-make your trip if you want, and if you are based outside the UK you can send them your details and they will sort something out for you.

They promise: “…the lowest price on the market for any of our hotel or holiday products. If you find a cheaper hotel or like for like holiday (either as a package or booked independently) from any other source, we’ll match it and give you £10 back for good measure,” and 10% of their surplus income will be donated to environmental justice campaigns.

Another interesting feature of the site: you can send in a travelogue of any sort and if they like it they will give you a discount or some reward for using it on their site.

The website looks new and has unsurprising issues of a new site: at the moment it does not have enough information uploaded and many links don’t click to anywhere; a bit of scouting around revealed that it launched only about a week ago. Nevertheless, worth checking out.

Why take the Buddha Bus?

I don’t understand why the OzBus is popular. Why would you want to spend 13-weeks on a bus, traveling with a rigid itinerary and a bunch of people you don’t know?

People say: it’s the most environmentally friendly way to travel, it’s the hippy way to travel (?), it’s a different experience. To me, just the thought is excruciating and exhausting. That’s just me though, no strings independent travel is more my thing and I can travel in an environmentally friendly way without being handcuffed to a bus.

Anyway, I bring this up as I read news of the launch of the Buddha Bus: a bus that will take you from London to China in 16-days. The first “Zen bus” will depart from London on September 6.

“To broaden the mind, to stimulate the senses; the perfect antidote to the stresses of the modern world,” is it’s philosophy. It plans to average about 800km a day (with the occasional rest days inserted here and there) — that’s at least 8-hours of daily bus journey. To me that translates to: a sore bum from bumpy roads, waste of time because of numerous bathroom breaks, 60-odd chattering strangers, traffic jams coming into and leaving the city, occasional overnight travel, departures at dawn — urrmm — how exactly is it an antidote to stress?

The longest time I have spent being on a road at a stretch is 4-days/3-nights on a train in India. It was air-conditioned, I was only with my family, the train had sleeper-bunks; it was a typically smooth ride, I can’t complain but I wanted to strangle my parents at the end of it, and other than green fields and a few dirty bathrooms at the train stations, I saw nothing.

I have not been on the OzBus, or any such journey — so it’s really not my place to rant. I’d love to think that the “environmental-friendly experience” is the whole and sole reason why people choose to take such long and organized road trips, but I have my doubts about that.

Have any of you been on a similar journey? Was it worth it?

Around the world in 65 days on green sea-monster

“Holy crap!” was my first reaction when I saw this sensational picture of Earthrace, the world’s first 100% bio-diesel power boat that will circumnavigate the world early next year.

Built at a cost of $3 million by New-Zealand skipper Pete Bethune, if it manages this undertaking in under 75 days (the previous record held by a British boat called Cable and Wireless in 1998), it will be the first time this has been done using 100% renewable fuel. Their target is to complete the route in 65 days.

Earthrace’s environmental objective is to spread the vision of a world that uses sustainable resources (e.g. bio-fuels) by demonstrating the power, reliability and safety of bio-diesel so as to prove it as a viable alternative to petroleum diesel.

With it’s special design and engineering, the boat is one of the fastest and greenest boats on the planet that will be covering a distance of 24,000 nautical miles, making the feat the world’s longest race.

The boat is low emission, non-toxic, antifoul and as an efficient hull design. The graphics on the boat are done by a Maori tattoo artist and the symbols represent the environment and the positive/negative influence of human interaction with the environment.

Earthrace is currently on a promotional tour in Europe where you can get up-close-and-personal with the boat and attend environmental education lectures in schools. The boat will begin it’s adventure from Valencia on March 1, 2008.

[Via Telegraph: Earthrace — the green machine]