UK or Bust: Hitching a Freighter to Grad School in the UK!


So I am actually doing it. No more airports, turbulence or airplane food! Goodbye Southwest, Easyjet, and Virgin!! Farewell taxiing takeoff and landing! Au Revoir to jet lag! I am giving up flying finally, and it is liberating! The growth of air travel is a direct threat to our planet’s atmosphere, and I refuse to participate in it any longer. Anyway, I have always loved bicycles, trains and boats….so much more romantic…


To get from San Francisco to my new home in Bristol, England where I’ll be studying transportation planning over the next year, is a bit more interesting than the usual Heathrow drumbeat of discontent. I’m leaving San Francisco on August 19th and it will take me a month to get to Bristol (stopping to see friends in NYC and Montreal and family in London along the way). I’m riding Amtrak between San Francisco and Montreal, then I will be crossing the Atlantic aboard the MSC Malaga (above), a container ship operating between Montreal, Canada and Antwerp, Belgium. Then it’s through the Chunnel to my family in London! This week, I signed the paperwork that commits me to the ten day crossing of the Atlantic. I know that freighters aren’t exactly the pinnacle of environmental sustainability, but at least traveling by sea will give me a glimpse into the massive network of container shipping that underpins globalization.


The transatlantic crossing will take ten days, and the cabin and all meals are included in the price, which makes it more expensive than flying (but not that much more when all is said and done). There’s even a ping pong table, swimming pool with sea water, an exercise room, and a video library aboard. My friend Hitesh sent me this article about “rogue waves” that are up to 100 feet high and prowl the ocean just looking for container vessels carrying transport activists. Thanks Hitesh. You make me feel so confident about my upcoming voyage. I’ll just hope I make it across the Atlantic safely despite rogue waves, potential collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet, pirates, or crazy hurricanes (the climate started getting rough….) I plan to write in this blog every day while at sea, then upload it all when I arrive in Europe on September 6th. So stay tuned……


Links to more information about freighter travel:


NSB Freighters (the company I’m going with)


Details of Transatlantic and Transpacific Crossings (including photos of the cabins on the Malaga)


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