Flying. Joyful or Joyless?

The joy of travel

Travel is freeing, in more ways than one.

Flying and Class

I’m from a working class family. Most of my Grandparents have never left the UK. My parents didn’t board a plane until their mid-20’s and my first flight was at 17. Although traditionally and culturally working-class, my parents and I have now moved into a weird space where we’re not really working class anymore. We’ve moved from the council estate, we own homes, earn salaries above minimum wage, have degrees and we fly outside of the UK to holiday — we’ve collected things that mark us as middle-class without having collected the middle-class experiences through childhood (and in my parents’ cases early adulthood) like flying abroad.

The joy of travel to others

Activist Influencer Mikaela Loach recently travelled to her ancestral home of Jamaica. In her Instagram stories she’s talked of the joy of reconnecting with the place she was born, of spending time with her family. She talked of recognising that flying isn’t the most sustainable way to travel, so she makes flights count by trying to spend as long as possible in an area. This narrative is an important one to consider in the context of the British empire that has a far reach to places all over the world. The consequences of which mean families are split into multiple locations. Flying offers that chance to connect or reconnect with an essential part of who someone is.

The joyful solution

What are the alternative solutions that create more joyful and sustaining travel?

Is our joy worth someone else’s joylessness?

Every time we fly we contribute greenhouse gas emissions that then impact someone somewhere else in the world. The most devastating impacts of climate change are, generally, not being felt by people who fly, they are being felt by some of the poorest on the planet — who may not have the means to easily flee from their location, let alone fly to a new one. That seems wildly unfair when positioned like that doesn’t it? That our flights could possibly entrap someone else in joylessness who can’t even access a flight out of it.

So… Is flying joyful or joyless?

I’m no climate scientist. I can’t cover every facet of flying and its relationship with the climate crisis. I can’t cover all the intricate solutions and policies we would need to curb aviation emissions.



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Chelsea Webster

Chelsea Webster

Activist for joy. Writes to highlight how power systems steal your joy and how you can steal it back.