Tolt, the travel influencer who refuses to fly

Far-flung journeys, exotic beaches, luxurious hotels… We know that tourism wreaks havoc. A reason not to go on holiday ? No, the opportunity to reinvent them ! This is what we offer you in our summer series “ A dream holiday, green version “, of which here is the second episode.

• part 1: Vacation: what if we stopped tourism ?


When he is asked when his last trip was, he often answers for tat and predicts the gossip’s reactions. I’m coming back from Oise. It doesn’t make you dream, so to speak, and yet there really are plenty of things to live there and see there ! »

Benjamin Martinie, a tall redhead, better known by the pseudonym Tolt, is one travel influencer ». Since 2016, he has posted videos on YouTube highlighting his various expeditions. With one certainty: three years ago he decided not to fly anymore.

At that time, in my private life, I spoke a lot about environmental issues, he remembers. My friends therefore sent me back to my great opposite: the plane. I was in a state of ignorance and denial, I thought aviation wasn’t that bad. It pushed me to dig into the subject and I realized that on an individual scale, the airplane is the worst for our carbon footprint. »

Tot: “ I’m coming back from Oise. It doesn’t make you dream, so to speak, and yet there really are plenty of things to live there and see there ! » © Mathieu Genon/Reporterre

The numbers speak for themselves. A return journey between Paris and New York rejects an average of 2.6 tonnes equivalent CO2 passengers, whereas in order to respect the Paris Agreements on the climate, we should all emit 2 tonnes equivalent CO2-> Per year. A single long-distance journey therefore explodes our carbon budget. I had cognitive dissonance that made me unhappy, recognizes Tolt. In the summer of 2019, I therefore made the decision to stop flying completely before the year 2021. »

A good decision that he stuck to. No more stays in Canada or vacations in Tanzania ! Tolt turned to closer countries, accessible by train, such as Spain or Italy. Above all, he set out to discover his own country.

Make low-carbon travel sexy

This 30-year-old native of Versailles (Yvelines) now travels the Lozère, Meuse and Lot roads to present them to his subscribers. In his videos, the landscapes of the Aubrac highlands have replaced Brazilian beaches. Honestly, I have a level of foreignness comparable to what I could have by going abroad. I discover a rich heritage »he enthuses.

On his two YouTube channels – one in French, the other in English – he is now trying make local travel sexier ». His recipe: a series of majestic landscapes filmed with a drone, sequences excitement » where we see him try kayaking or via ferrata, interviews with locals, licked pictures of wild animals and local gastronomy… All to the rhythm of lively music.

It was enough to tickle the chauvinist side of some French people. Very nice video that beautifully puts in front of our beautiful territory »writes a woman under the video dedicated to Berry. Thank you for this beautiful little tour of my department. It is clearly underrated, life here is very comfortable »responds another subscriber under the one dedicated to Haute-Marne.

Tot: “ I firmly believe that we must relearn to contemplate, just go and look at what is around us. » © Mathieu Genon/Reporterre

Tolt’s bet seems to be paying off: his income (obtained through partnerships with tourist offices, in particular) and his number of views have increased. My series of videos about the French departments appeal to the patriotic side of people, admits the YouTuber. But since Covid there are also people who want to travel less far and differently. There is an audience to welcome this message. »

That’s what this vision is about different trip » which Tolt wants to promote. A trip for yourself, not to show off on social networks or to tick off a new destination on your world map. A slower trip: yes, sailing to Corsica takes almost 24 hours and it’s worth it, he says. A journey to observe. To take time. I am convinced that we must relearn to contemplate, just go and look at what is around us, says Tolt. Trying to reclaim the living. First, if I’m shown certain animals or plants, I won’t be able to tell what they are. »

Ringardiser behavior that drives us straight into the wall »

Tolt is an uninvited guest on the social media landscape: many influencers still promote long, short trips and endless consumption. After several years of flying regularly himself, the young man wants to avoid the card at all costs lesson giver ». I don’t want to dictate what people should or shouldn’t do, he insists. On the other hand, it is my role to raise the alarm and provide factual information. Influencers have a huge role to play in outmoded behavior that drives us right into the wall. »

Tot: “ It is my role to warn and provide factual information. Influencers have a huge role to play in outmoded behavior that drives us right into the wall. » © Mathieu Genon/Reporterre

Let’s remember behaviors adopted by a handful of people: according to a study, only 11 % of the world’s population had already flown in 2018. The real concern is the privileged people. People like me who have had a rather expensive education [il a fait une école de commerce à Angers (Maine-et-Loire)] who have fairly high incomes »acknowledges Tolt.

According to him, it is up to the states to make low-carbon forms of travel available to the entire population. In France it is going in the right direction in some cases, especially for the night train. But in others, the government has the wrong approach altogether »he laments, calling the current decarbonisation programs for the aviation sector big greenwashing ». And to continue: It’s a shame really, because the state can have this role as a facilitator, as an accelerator of change. »

Tot: “ The state can have this role as a facilitator, as an accelerator of change. » © Mathieu Genon/Reporterre

Today, Tolt no longer feels the need to go to the other side of the world. Faced with his friends who continue to fly away on holiday in Colombia, he does not feel jealous. Does he ever plan to fly again ? Only in the event of a major emergency », he said. He insists: this choice of life is not a limitation, but a decision that helps to be happy. To be more calm, more in tune with your convictions. A decision that pushes you to discover the world and people differently. In Oise or elsewhere.


Part 3 of this series will be available tomorrow. Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out.

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