Energy Diet

How We Are Moved

Tonight, I’m writing from Vancouver. Fitting, isn’t it, for the post about transportation? Almost two weeks ago, my youngest child and I flew here from Toronto. It’s the first time in four years that I’ve returned since having moved in 2007 to Ontario.

We are here waiting for my sister to have her first baby — today she is 10 days past her ‘due date.’ It took an event of this proportion to get me on an airplane — you see, I don’t like to fly. Which I suppose is a good thing when considering the environmental impact of air travel.

Last September, when she was married on the West Coast, we Skyped our good wishes from our living room in Ontario. Not only did not travelling to the wedding save my levels of anxiety, it also saved on our pocketbooks and the amount of jet fuel it would have taken to fly us there and back. Instead, we gifted her the cash we would have spent on airfare and made a virtual toast, which surprisingly, felt quite intimate and ok.

Technology has come a long way. How great is it that we can speak face-to-face from thousands of miles away? That we can partake in weddings and funerals and business meetings from behind a computer screen, yet feel like we are right there with the well-wishers, the loved ones, and colleagues? It makes you rethink the reasons for travel and whether the same outcome could be achieved without moving a mile. There are exceptions everywhere, sure, but knowing there is an alternative way to be present is pretty incredible.

For this flight to Vancouver, our family has for the first time purchased carbon offsets, which for the return trip cost only $38.00 CAD. Moreover, we tend not to travel very often and opt for ‘staycations,’ if not for saving money then for acquainting ourselves with the local attractions and keeping our feet on the ground (where mommy feels the safest.)

Every day that we’ve been here, we have been walking from where we are staying to where we are waiting for the baby — about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) once or twice every day, plus the additional walking to try to get sister’s labour going. When we haven’t walked, we’ve taken public transport (and in Vancouver, the fleet of buses are hybrid electric).

When it comes to what we’d like to change in our transportation habits as a family, there’s not much, to be honest. Children have a knack for keeping you close to home and getting you out on foot and bikes and skateboards. Since there are too many of us to fit in one standard car, we are on the hunt for a fuel-efficient seven-seater but are having (dare I say) fun going without for the time being.

After saying goodnight to the kids and husband over Skype for the past nearly two weeks, I am happy to be returning home in the coming days (when baby decides to be born) and not going very far for quite a while.


  1. Christina Nunez
    July 6, 2011, 11:25 am

    Best wishes for your sister’s new arrival! I think you’re right that technology has changed how necessary it is to travel. I worked at a company where the team was split between two cities and we videoconferenced every day. I don’t think it entirely replaces the value of being in the same room with someone, but I do think that being in the same room can be overrated, especially when it comes to offices and productivity.

  2. Chad Lipton
    July 7, 2011, 3:14 pm

    Missing your sisters wedding and gifting her the saved travel money is an inspiring commitment to sacrifice. Very interesting idea.