Last summer I did a no-flight trip from the UK to Spain. Taking a ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe and then a train to Paris. From there we booked a night train and slept to the chugging all the way to Toulouse. In Toulouse we were rudely awaken to find out that we had to change trains 2 hours earlier than we thought and then windled our way through the south of France to Barcelona, on a mix of trains, buses and taxis.
The reason I’m writing about my travel journey into this weeks blog is to highlight the many ways you can travel. These days we are so reliant on flights. And that’s not our fault, many of us only have a couple of weeks of holiday a year and we can’t travel slowly. But for the ones of us that can, to try out a slower style of travel for your next trip can really make the difference to the planet.
Generally flying can be the most cost effective option but this isn’t always the case. Being from the UK, we are so well connected to the whole of Europe, we can easily find coaches or trains to get us between Europe. I just read that Midnight Trains a new start up from France has plans to have sleeper trains to 12 European capitals. That means taking the Eurostar from London to Paris you will then be able to reach 5 European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Denmark). Of course there are already buses and coaches that means you can reach these destinations, but to have the opportunity of a sleeper train means you won’t even miss out a day on your holiday because you’ll be sleeping anyway.
For the more adventurous of us that travel for months, the idea of taking trains can seem like an exciting prospect. The prompt for my trip last year came from the book, Only Planet by Ed Gillespie. He travelled all over the world without taking one single plane journey. Now this may be a bit bold for many of us but to orbit our thinking into travel without planes could make some incredible trips. I saw last night on instagram that the longest bus route goes from New Delhi to London, 52 days through 18 countries, wouldn’t it be just an insane experience! Even to try out the half where you cross through Europe would be thrilling.
One of the facts that I learnt and found most interesting was that the average person is not the one that is hurting the planet with its flights. The people that only take 2 or 4 flights a year for their vacations are not the problem. It is the many that go regularly for city breaks, or go travelling and fly between every country ending up with 10 or more flights in just a month or two. We need to try and romanticise slow travel. The idea of being on a train or bus and getting to see different countries and their sceneries passing you. So if you want to try out a more sustainable travel, research if you would be able to take a train or bus instead of the flight. Make it a conversation the next time you’re speaking to someone who has lots of holidays and flights booked. See if maybe they know the options of taking a train to go between cities, or the eurostar to travel to the South of France