Leisure Journeys

Car Busters 35, July - Sept 2008

Dear Anna
Although I go green day to day, itís tricky to reach leisure destinations and manage the hobbies I enjoy without driving, especially for lessons from a specialist teacher. What do you suggest?
Leisure Traveller

Dear Leisure Traveller
Itís an issue for me too. My ordinary life is set up around proximity and accessibility. But for an exciting day out, or specialist event then travelling sustainably is an effort. For example, I love salsa dancing. Going to a Congress, special band or dance holiday can involve distance. And the finish time is often after midnight, which causes difficulties for public transport. Tips are:

1 Touring Shows / Teachers
Firstly, look for events nearby. Some shows, bands, exhibitions and specialist teachers take regional tours. Get on lists notifying events dates. Or check websites regularly. For Yorkís annual salsa Congress I make sure Iím here and childcare free.

2 Choose venues that are accessible by public transport
Look on websites for details of how to reach attractions other than by car.

3 Lift Share
Aim to get there by joining up with others. You probably already know local folk with enthusiasm for your hobbies. Most are car owners who would be more than happy to share lifts if you contributed. Start collecting telephone numbers or emails and ask politely. For instance the organiser of an fortnightly club half an hours drive away is keen to offer me lifts as he gets most of my entrance fee. The disadvantage is a late ride home after the event closes, but when there I simply ask around for an earlier lift home.

For huge events like Glastonbury Festival lift shares are offered through websites. Plus there are specialist public transport services which makes ecological sense.

4 Public Transport
In some cities public transport runs very late. Trains between Manchester and York run all night to access Manchester airport. So late events in Leeds and Manchester are manageable for me by train/bus or taxi.

5 Organise a minibus or coach trip there

6 Stay Overnight
If getting home late other than by driving is a hassle, or you plan to drink alcohol, then staying overnight works. Either at a friend or family memberís home, or by camping or booking a bed in a hotel or Bed and Breakfast.

7 Ask The Teacher To Visit
A proactive approach is to book a specialist teacher yourself. There might be a time when they are passing by. Consider either a private lesson -which might be expensive -or a day or weekend class in your town. Bringing one person to the many reduces mileage travelled overall. Youíd have to book a venue, do administration and publicity. But you might be able to profit as a promoter and it would grow the local scene for your hobby. Plus win respect and deepen friendships.

8 Specialist Green Traveller Websites
On line advice sites exist to help with sustainable leisure. At www.walkit.com, you can enter any two points to generate a walking route map and journey time between them. Each route also includes an estimate of the number of calories the walker will burn, and the amount of carbon saved by not travelling by taxi, car or bus. It covers six large British cities.

9 Put Pleasure Around Business
When you have to travel for business reasons, work out what attractions or teachers are nearby and visit them, either before or after your work. This cuts overall distance and makes good use of your time and money (since the business mileage - whether done by sustainable or driving methods - is paid for by your employer or can be claimed for tax by the self employed).

10 Campaign for Better Public Transport
If there isnít a service to the attraction, campaign for one or a link between it and the nearest service eg a dedicated minibus or walkway.

11 Holiday in your Own Country
People who are carfree or choosing a low carbon lifestyle go on holiday in low impact ways - such as deliberately picking campsites by how close they are to public transport. Camping without a car is possible if you travel light or with a collapsible trolley, cycle trailer or push chair to carry tents and bulky items such as food, or else buy meals when you get there.

Iím visiting the Womenís Holiday Centre in Ribblesdale. Bedding, towels and basic foodstuffs are provided there which makes travelling by train possible even for a woman on her own with children as I donít carry heavy loads.

Avoiding flying is the most important single choice to reduce overall emissions from leisure travel. For the four salsa Congresses Iíve done since December, I flew to one (a week in Barcelona), danced one in my home town, lift shared to another and got the train to the last.

Anna Semlyen wrote Cutting Your Car Use www.cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk. We are actively looking for publishers and authors in other countries (except North America). Email john@greenbooks.co.uk

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