Somerset no-plane family to attempt challenge on return home

Family crouching with mountains in the background
Image caption,The family hope to return to Somerset from Australia without flying

By Sammy Jenkins & Chris Mace

BBC News, West of England

A family who almost achieved their goal of traveling to Australia without flying say they want to make the trip home without a single plane journey.

Shannon Coggins, Theo Simon and their daughter Rosa, 19, tried to avoid planes completely during their 10,000-mile (16,000km) journey from Somerset.

However, they were forced to take a flight when their travel options ran out in South East Asia.

Rosa said: “We’re going to be going back the same way.”

The family, who gave up flying in 2002 “because of its effect on the climate”, left home on 16 August to travel to Sydney for the wedding of Ms Coggins’ sister on 28 December.

“On the way here we had to take one flight and it was really annoying,” said Ms Coggins.

She added that they would attempt to travel on a “boat or a sailing yacht” from Darwin, Australia, to Dili in East Timor, which was the stretch they had to fly on their outward journey.

‘Relief to stop’

The trip included multiple modes of transport and stays in Kazakhstan, China, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia.

Ms Coggins said while the trip had been “incredible”, it was a “relief to have stopped going and going and going.”

The family said there had been many highlights, including a “hair-raising” journey to a volcano in Indonesia after a recommendation from a friend.

“You got up there and the world just stopped,” Ms Coggins said.

Meanwhile, Mr Simon said his highlight was on board a ferry in Indonesia.

Theo Simon, Rosa and Shannon Coggins
Image caption,The family decided to stop flying in 2002

“We saw the moon rising. The moon was the other way up.

“I realised we had crossed the equator and we were in the southern half of the planet and I thought how we’d come from Castle Cary to the other side of the equator and it just felt awesome to actually have done it,” he added.

Rosa said China stood out as her own highlight.

“I really enjoyed it. I loved the food and the people were really kind,” she added.

However, the family said the trip did not come without challenges.

Four people taking a selfie
Image caption,The trip included stays in Kazakhstan, China, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia

Ms Coggins said: “One of the worst things that we experienced was when we arrived in Tbilisi – within two minutes it started to rain and it didn’t stop for three hours.

“Noone would pick us up because we looked like drowned rats. It was dark. The streets were steadily rising, it was actually a flash flood in the end.

“There was lightning overhead. It was absolutely biblical.”

Mr Simon said there was also an issue on a train in Russia, where he was taken into a separate carriage and asked questions.

“We had no idea how that was going to turn out,” he said.

“However worrying it is, our fears had been worse than reality and people have always been there to help us, wherever we have been,” he added.

‘We know the way now’

Ms Coggins said the return journey will take about two-and-a-half to three months.

She said: “We know the way now.”

On their journey, Ms Coggins added that they “just wanted to do something different.”

“It was an adventure of a lifetime and we need to be taking climate change more seriously now,” she said.

Rosa said avoiding flights had made the trip “feel a bit more significant” and had allowed them to “see the bits in between.”

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