There's a simple website I use to keep track of the flights I take. I don't use it in advance to plan my trips. I use it afterwards to get statistics - how much I've flown and how many airports I've been through, for instance. These are the things that, as a travel writer, can seem important at the time.
Having just finished my final trip of the year, I went to look at my statistics for 2019. It turns out it has been my busiest year of flying ever. I travelled more than 300,000 kilometres, passing through 33 different airports in 21 countries. If you added up all the time I actually spent flying (not including the time spent waiting in airports), it comes to more than 17 entire days. That's 5 per cent of my whole year sitting on a plane - that's a lot of Marvel movies and gin and tonics!
Maybe there would have been a time when I would've worn these figures as a badge of honour, some kind of perverse proof of my bona fides as a true traveller. There's certainly a competitive streak among those of us who do this full-time and the 414 hours I spent flying this year (almost all in economy, for the record) would make me look pretty hardcore.
But there's been a big shift in attitudes around flying in the past year or so, as people consider its environmental impact. Increasingly, jetsetting isn't seen as glamourous or something to be proud of - it's seen as selfish and something to be ashamed of. What was once my badge of honour is now a black mark on my name.
Is flying becoming the new smoking? Will we have to sneak out back to take a cheeky flight to Bali, or have to walk through graphic images of climate change at the airport before we can board an A380 to Europe? You can imagine a regular traveller trying to convince their friends that they could easily quit flying whenever they wanted, but they still like to be up in the air with their glass of wine.
I hope this is not the way the world is going. Not because I don't appreciate the harm that planes are doing, but because I think shaming people for flying is too simplistic.
Firstly, it doesn't take into account the environmental benefits that come from tourism - the wilderness that is being protected because jungle lodges earn more money than farming, the species that have been saved because they are the reason people go on safari, the communities that are invested in looking after their region because the economy is reliant on visitors. If we stopped flying for tourism, there would be a huge negative effect.
But also, making individual people feel guilty about flying absolves the aviation industry of the responsibility it should have to improve sustainability. In their battle for the cheapest flights, airlines have effectively decided the climate has no value. Carbon offsets should not be voluntary, they should be included in the price so travellers understand the environmental cost of their trips. With an increase in the cost of flights, there could also be more investment in research to make planes and fuel more sustainable.
And, it should also be said that not every passenger's trip is as bad as another. Travelling in economy is much better for the environment than travelling in business (although it's obviously not better for my mood when I land).
Travelling with only hand luggage helps a little because less fuel is needed to carry less weight. And flying non-stop rather than taking two flights, when possible, is also greener.
Ultimately, though, the best thing is to not get on the plane in the first place. And while I'm not suggesting we stop travelling, perhaps we should each think about the number of flights we take.
The aviation industry accounts for about 2 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions and one of the main reasons that's so high is because of the sheer amount of flying that takes place globally. There are almost 100,000 flights around the world each day and this number is expected to grow significantly every year. Anything that is bad for the environment that's being done on that scale is going to seem dramatic. I mean, our love of Netflix and YouTube means that online video streaming is now estimated to account for about 1 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions because of all the power that's needed!
So, with all this in mind, it is clear that 60 flights and 300,000 kilometres in one year is far too much for one person. Seeing my final tally for 2019 was a shock and has made me reconsider the way I travel. I think that next year, it's a good opportunity to explore more of Australia, to have adventures and discover incredible places without flying across the world.
And, if more people come to the same conclusion, there could be an added benefit. Domestic travel is important for countries like Australia from an economic perspective, creating employment and boosting the economy.
And the more we travel in our own country, the more we'll realise how beautiful it is and how diverse the ecological gifts we've been given are. If taking fewer long-haul flights means seeing Australia's natural treasures - and helping to protect them at the same time - then it's a win-win.