(CNN) — A few years ago, Charlotte Wolf returned from a trip around the world and totted up the number of flights she’d taken.”I think I did about 80 flights in quite a short space of time,” the 29-year-old tells CNN Travel today.For Wolf, seeing that number written down forced some hard reflection.”I was quite a big polluter,” she says.Wolf had never given much thought to the impact of flying before, but this was a turning point. She swore off aviation.”I’ve not been on a plane since.”To cement her commitment, Wolf signed a 2020 no-flying pledge organized by Flight Free UK – a campaign group that promotes alternative forms of travel beyond aviation – unaware that air travel was about to be off limits for much of that year and the next.By spring 2020, air travel around the world had ground to a halt.Global air travel usually accounts for about 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Data from the Global Carbon Project suggests that even by December 2020 – when some travel had resumed – global aviation emissions remained 40% below 2019 levels.As the skies emptied of planes, the term “staycation” became omnipresent. And even as international travel resumed in fitful intervals last year and this year, many travelers continued to look closer to home for their vacation thrills amid the uncertain global landscape.Heading in 2022, Covid remains a threat, but borders continue to reopen and international travel is steadily returning.But while many count down the days until they next board a plane, other eco-conscious travelers like Wolf are committed to remaining flight free forever.### Rethinking the norm
Air travel shut down in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Pictured here: grounded Qantas planes at Sydney Airport in April 2020.Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesWolf, who is based in England, doesn’t see her pledge to avoid air travel as being at odds with her desire to explore the world.”I’m still very keen on travel, I still will travel, I will just use alternative means,” she says.Wolf’s long-term partner is also committed to a flight-free lifestyle. Summer 2020 saw the couple head to the south of France by train, a journey they repeated this past August. They also recently spent a weekend break in Edinburgh, eschewing the cheap flights to Scotland in favor of the train journey north.Long-term, the couple hope to one day travel from the UK to Japan via the Trans-Siberian Railway.However while Wolf is keen to avoid flying, she’s not ruling out ever stepping on board a plane again.She’s half-British, half-American, and has family in the US.“I’m still very keen on travel, I still will travel, I will just use alternative means” Charlotte Wolf”When I was younger, I used to go about five times a year to New York, whereas now I think I’d be happy to go every five years for an essential reason,” Wolf explains.Right now, Wolf thinks it would be acceptable to travel by plane to see them every half decade or so. She’d also fly in the event of an emergency. But she won’t be flying for leisure again.Wolf admits it’s easier to make this commitment because she’s traveled so extensively already.”I think it’s a privilege thing, and I think that I wouldn’t expect people to do it if they hadn’t seen the world,” she says. “I’m very lucky to have done the bucket list thing at my age.”Wolf also understands the appeal of low cost airfares over pricey trains, suggesting there needs to be a broader overhaul of travel costs.She’s also aware that as a self-employed person, it’s easier for her to take the “long route” on vacation, and suggests there should be government-backed incentives to encourage people to travel by rail.”Obviously if you’re going to France by train , it’s a day each way for the travel, whereas if you fly, it’s a bit different. So I think we’d be interested to see things like incentives in salary jobs, where you get more annual leave, if you can evidence that you’re taking a low carbon option.”While Wolf doesn’t expect everyone to follow in her footsteps, she does tag her travel photos with #flightfree. She wants to “participate in that dialogue” and show people how easy it is to travel from the UK to Europe – and beyond – by rail.