Both Ilona and I have flown a lot in recent years, mostly on account of our living in a long distance relationship. I have to admit, it wasn´t until very recently, that I have become aware of the massive carbon footprint of commercial flights. It may seem ignorant, but I had been unaware, that short flights between cities in Europe cause significantly larger CO2 emissions per person, than driving. While calculating the carbon footprints of different means of transportation between Hamburg and Vienna (~1000 km) I was very surprised to see, that even driving alone in a car like ours (5-year-old Toyota Yaris, petrol, consumption about 6 L/100 km at 110-120 km/h) produces about 30% less CO2, than flying. Driving this distance with a full car (4 people) will reduce CO2 emissions per person to about the same levels as taking the train. *

*source: https://www.quarks.de/umwelt/klimawandel/co2-rechner-fuer-auto-flugzeug-und-co/ , the method is provided by the Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung (Ifeu) in Heidelberg.

Since I had quite a few vacation days still available and Ilona had a class reunion planned in Hungary, we made up our minds to take a road trip home. This also provided Ilona with a practice opportunity, since she had recently taken up driving again after a hiatus of about 15 years.

The trip itself was very pleasant and Ilona did a great job, driving almost 50% of the distance. I included a screenshot of the route we took, as well as an endearing photo of a very competent looking Ilona at the wheel.

The return journey was a piece of cake. Since this has been such a good experience, we have decided to drive to Hungary again for Christmas. But this time, we are also taking the cats, so that things don’t get boring. (And also, because we were unable find a cat sitter for the Holidays).

To wrap it up, I also wanted to touch upon the costs of our trip. I calculated that even including tolls for the motorways in Austria and the Czech Republic, we saved about 25% compared to the cheapest we have ever flown to Vienna or Budapest. So it seems that by driving on this distance, we can economize on money as well as CO2 emissions.

3 Replies to “Flugscham – driving across half of Europe for a quick visit home”

  1. I’m going to miss my late-night and early-morning trips to the airport to pick you up or drop you off!

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