Modern history

Zero Altitude: How I Learned to Fly Less and Travel More

Zero Altitude: How I Learned to Fly Less and Travel More

In recent decades, private jets have become status symbols for the world’s wealthiest, while quick and easy flights have brought far-flung destinations within the reach of everyone. But at what cost to the environment?

Around the world, flying emits about 860 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and until the outbreak of Covid-19, the aviation industry was one of the planet’s fastest-growing polluters. Now is the perfect time to pause and take stock of our toxic relationship with flying.

Part climate-change investigation, part travel memoir, Zero Altitude follows Helen Coffey as she journeys as far as she can in the course of her job as a top travel journalist – all without getting on a single flight. Between trips by train, car, boat and bike, she meets climate experts and activists at the forefront of the burgeoning flight-free movement. Over the course of her travels, she discovers that keeping both feet on the ground is not only possible but that it can be an exhilarating opportunity for adventure. Her book is brimming with tips and ideas for swapping the middle seat for the open road.


Chapter 1. Is Flying All That Bad? Stacking Up the Stats

Chapter 2. This Green and Pleasant Land: Mastering the Art of the Staycation

Chapter 3. Why Would Anyone Do This to Themselves? Tips and Tricks from the Flight-Free Experts

Chapter 4. At a Rail’s Pace: All Aboard a Train Tour of Europe

Chapter 5. Carbon Guilt: Does Offsetting Actually Work?

Chapter 6. Drive Me Crazy: Learning to Hitchhike vs. Learning to Drive

Chapter 7. But … What about Tourism? The Dark Side of Going Cold Turkey

Chapter 8. I Love to Ride My Bicycle: From Commuter to Explorer in Amsterdam

Chapter 9. Get on Your Soapbox: Infrastructure Changes to Save the World

Chapter 10. Walk the Walk: A Real-Life Pilgrim’s Progress

Chapter 11. Whatever Next? Introducing the Sustainable Travel Tech of the Future

Chapter 12. The Big One: Just How Far Can I Get at Zero Altitude?


If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!