Air Scares Prompt People to Embrace Slow Travel

Paula Froelich
Editor at Large
July 28, 2014


Planes, trains, and automobiles may soon be boats, trains, and automobiles.

Peter Ward, the founder of Medical Digital Media, a video production company, woke up Thursday to the news of the Air Algerie crash in the Sahara and decided he’d had enough. He booked a train to take himself to a business meeting in California instead of flying.  

Related: How to Combat a Fear of Flying

Some are opting to use the train for business travel  (Photo: Getty Images)

“I just don’t want to fly right now,” Ward said, citing the Air Algerie and Malaysia Airlines crashes as the chief reasoning behind his decision. “It’s not a reason to panic, but it’s a great idea to travel with a lot more caution — less headphones and more awareness — so I have allocated time to take the train to Chicago and do meetings there before taking a train from Chicago to California and back.”

Ward added that although he runs a company that requires him to take meetings in other states, “because of recent events I’ve had to rethink how I do business. So if I have a meeting in Ohio, I will try to set it up in Pennsylvania so I can drive.” 

Ward isn’t the only one shying away from air travel right now. 

“People will absolutely think twice about getting on a flight right now,” said Jeff Wise, the author of “Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.” “It feels like a completely rational thing to not want to get on their planes at this point.”

Related: The Airline Industry’s Summer of Hell

Others are opting for travel by car (Photo: Getty Images)

Jill Zarin, a former star of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” told us she and her husband drove to Atlanta for her recent appearance on the Gem Shopping Network to sell her Jill Zarin Fine Jewelry line. 

“I am more aware of who’s getting on the plane and what’s going on in the news,” Zarin said. “We were in Atlanta a month ago as well and drove down. We did a whole road trip. We went to Jacksonville to pick up my parents — they don’t like flying either — then drove to Sea Island, then Atlanta for the Gem Network and then to Nashville for my daughter’s graduation.” 

In general, the Zarins prefer slow travel. 

"We love things that take a long time — we’re in no rush! Slow travel is about being in the present. We’re always rushing to get from point A to point C that we don’t stop to enjoy point B. You have to slow down and enjoy the moment because you never know when your last moment is.”

Another benefit of slow travel? Relaxation.

Relaxing is so much easier on a train (Photo: Getty Images)

Joe Wessels, an administrator at the Cincinnati Development Fund, said, “I’m a big fan of taking Amtrak whenever I can. Not because I fear planes, but because if I have the time, it is just easier and more relaxing.”

Related: Think You’re Uncomfortable Now? Check Out These New Airline Seats

Ward concurs and added, “You jump on the [train], you have more chance to stretch, get decent Wi-Fi, and take a walk. It’s also easier to be social and engage.” 

Meredith Wolf Schizer, a mother of four who lives in New York City, said she and her family are huge fans of the road trip — often going from NYC to her hometown of Cincinnati or to Florida for Disney World. “We drive a lot,” Schizer said. "Some of our stops were even better than the destination (though the kids had a great time at Disney, too).”

Map out where you want to go (Photo: Getty Images)

But slow travel is also (ironically) often more convenient and sometimes faster than air travel.

Sloane Davidson, founder of the Causemopolitan and a frequent user of the Acela train for regional travel around New York City, said, “Over the last two years I have found that I prefer slow travel as it’s often faster than air travel. With flight delays so common and taxis and transport to and from the airport so expensive, I like slow travel.”

The Schizer family agrees. Their love of road-tripping started several years ago after a frustrating 12-hour delay at LaGuardia Airport. “We figured out that had we driven [in the first place], we would’ve arrived there before our plane even departed LaGuardia!” Schizer said. 

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