Portrait of Peter-Paul with a pilot hat

Peter-Paul Vossepoel – The Dutchman who wouldn’t fly

Summer is here! Time to get on that S7 to Schwechat, hop on a plane – don’t forget to post that ‘plane wing over the clouds’-picture – and see the world! Right?

Not according to Peter-Paul Vossepoel, one of the founders of ‘Zomer Zonder Vliegen’. That’s Dutch for ‘Summer without Flying’. This initiative is all about traveling and exploring, but it changes one crucial element so often involved in satisfying our #wanderlust: flying is verboten. Instead, ‘Summer Without Flying’ looks for alternatives and brings people together to share the joys of slow travel. Why though?

Peter-Paul: “Hopping on a plane has become a habit. The possibilities are endless, the world is at our feet. This includes destinations that are close-by, because flying is often the easiest, cheapest and fastest option. Zomer zonder Vliegen wants to question that habit of flying and challenges you to think about different ways of traveling.
After all, the increasing amount of aviation is putting a huge strain on our climate, as planes emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. We travel more and further away per plane, and a single flight can negate all our personal efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.
That is why we want to question the habit of traveling by plane and show and share the pleasure of traveling a different way.”

But isn’t flying sometimes less bad that driving a car somewhere?
Peter-Paul: “It’s impossible to determine what the exact CO2-emission of your journey is, be it per plane, train or bus. The amount of people traveling with you, the route, the type of vehicle, the fuel used, your traveling speed: all these factors play a role. But no matter which way you look at it, in the end flying is nearly always the worst version of traveling.
Yes, it could be that driving by yourself to Barcelona in a shitty car is worse than flying with 200 other people in plane, but numbers per kilometer only tell a part of the story. The biggest issue of air travel are those long distances, that we wouldn’t choose to traverse with different means of transportation. Who would travel to Barcelona for a weekend-getaway by car or train?”

Copy of logo

OK, but what about those great ‘compensate your flight’ programmes. Isn’t it enough that somewhere trees are being planted every time I fly?
Peter-Paul: “Trees being planted and other ecological projects are always great, of course. However, they will not solve the problem of flying. Currently only 5-10 percent of the world population has been on a plane. Imagine what would happen if everyone would start flying. It is downright impossible to compensate for those emissions, they would be way, way too big.”

We see your point. So what do you suggest?
Peter-Paul: “There are so many other ways to travel, that can be just as or even more exciting. The difference is it will be slower and most likely less far. But not necessarily less adventurous. There are tons of great flight-free destinations that are closer to home, undiscovered or completely forgotten about.
Together with our community we are creating a travel guide full of practical tips, inspiration and personal travel stories. Currently, it is in Dutch only, because we are based in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. But of course, it would be awesome if we can get together an international community of no-fly travelers and explorers.“

Do you want to join this community of no-fly explorers? Let us know! Vienna Shares will be starting it’s own ‘Summer without Flying’ project in 2019. Contact us at hello[at]viennashares.org if you want to contribute :)

For more information, check:
www.zomerzondervliegen.be (in Dutch)

Flying is a hot topic in Vienna as well. The legal battle over the controversial third runway in Schwechat is on-going. Find out more here.

By: Mirjam de Klepper