Helen Coffey

Helen Coffey is a leading travel journalist and speaker with eight years’ experience in the industry. Currently deputy head of travel at The Independent, she has previously worked at national titles including The Telegraph, Evening Standard and Daily Express.

Over the course of her journalism career, Helen has penned hundreds of articles, from exclusive news stories and colourful long-form travel features to pithy opinion pieces and nuanced reviews.

She is regularly called upon to appear on other media outlets as an expert contributor on travel-related consumer stories. These include the BBC News Channel, BBC World News, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio 4 and LBC, among others.

Having received a first-class degree in Drama from the University of Exeter and spent part of her early career leading theatre workshops for children, Helen is a confident and experienced public speaker. She has both facilitated panels and been a panelist at high-profile events, such as The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show and Be:Fit, given talks on journalism to higher education students at InvestIn taster days, and presented on the latest travel trends at exclusive Independent Minds reader events for subscribers. A practising Christian, Helen has also appeared on various panels and spoken at events regarding the intersection of journalism and faith for organisations including Christians in Media.

Helen’s latest focus is the future of sustainable travel; her next project will be attempting to give up flying for the whole of 2021, while still travelling as widely as possible, to prove that going flight-free is achievable – even for the most frequent of flyers.


Zero Altitude

Helen Coffey

Travelling without flying was already a challenge for travel journalist Helen Coffey. Throw in a worldwide pandemic that closes borders, imposes national lockdowns and reintroduces the dreaded Q-word (say it quietly now: quarantine) into common parlance, and it became a whole lot more challenging…

What started as a personal mission for one very frequent flyer to embrace the flight-free life for a whole year quickly became the norm for just about everyone – albeit unintentionally. But with the grounding of the vast majority of flights overnight and the subsequent toppling of airlines from their formerly lofty heights, perhaps now’s a better time than ever to try to kick the flying habit and explore new forms of transport.

And, as the aviation industry seeks to rebuild, surely now is the perfect time to ask: what should it look like in the wake of Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and scientists’ increasingly vocal arguments that the amount we flew BC – Before Covid – simply wasn’t sustainable?

Neither climate change nor coronavirus will ever curb our wanderlust; but travel doesn’t have to mean air travel. Part travelogue, part research-based investigation, Zero Altitude charts the journey of travel writer Helen Coffey as she attempts to keep seeing new places with clipped wings in a post-pandemic world, and to answer the big question: is a flight-free future really the only answer?