So you have probably heard flying is bad but figure the plane is going to go anyway and you are definitely going to be on it. And although we try and live a 'greener' life we do on the occasion fly too. Green travel is about choosing a better way which, in our opinion, makes the journey part of the holiday and can be interesting and fun too. Just two short anecdotes before I get onto some tips to prove this point...
Last year Tim and I travelled to Italy. This is an easy trip which involves the Eurostar from London to Paris (the only way to get to Paris) and then an overnight train to Italy. The Paris-Italy leg starts at an Easyjet competitive price of £30 for a coach bed in a six berth sleeper (which are surprisingly comfortable) to your choice of Milan, Bologna, Florence or Rome. You arrive early in the morning, in the centre of your destination city refreshed and ready for the day. None of the wake up at 3 in the morning to get a cab to an airport at least an hour away to arrive in a random airport miles outside of your destination city. Plus all those extras soon add on to the price of a budget airline price. Anyway, back to the point. On our first trip to Italy we shared the coach with 4 Italians whose English was a bit better than our Italian (which is practically non-existent). However, we were able to communicate in a sort of pigeon language and even played a game of Horse (translated to cavallo) (from Shark vs Eagle). Meeting these young conversational Italians was a great introduction to a country we shortly arrived in and fell in love with.
This year we are going to Croatia by train and ferry. One of the parts that I am most looking forward to is arriving in Rome before heading off to the coast with enough time to grab my favorite gelato from the Gelateria Del Teatro (best gelato ever tasted). Not something that could happen if you were flying to Croatia is it?
So here are some tips
- Train travel can be expensive but it can also be quite competitive. If you can't fork out for the whole return journey think about flying one way and taking the train/ferry for the other.
- The best resource for finding out about trains all over the world is the Man in Seat 61. This man is your friend, get to know him. Click here to visit the Man In Seat 61.
- I have only travelled within Italy by train but booking in advance means you can get huge discounts on your tickets (up to 60%). I would imagine this would apply in some other countries.
- Travelling by ground requires a little more research but again this can be great fun - stop at places along the way that you just wouldn't have seen by plane.
- Keep in mind that not all trains are the Orient Express - they are generally comfortable and they get you there, they are not hotels (even when they call themselves the "Train Hotel" like the Spanish trains). Take some toilet paper with you (incase they run out). Wet wipes are always a great way to freshen up. Take a fan, trains can get hot.
- From my train experience trains can sometimes arrive late. If you are planning onward journeys leave a good couple hours in-between to allow for this, also take a packed breakfast.
- You only need to arrive about 10 minutes before the train leaves but I would always suggest at least half an hour. This gives you time to find your cabin and get relaxed.
- If you are crossing borders don't be scared when the foreign speaking conductor takes your passport away. They will return it in the morning. This means you don't get woken up in the middle of the night to have your passport checked. If you are getting off a stop other than your named stop on the ticket advise the conductor otherwise you might leave without it.
- Ferries are another great way to go. The ferry to Amsterdam from London is pure luxury with a proper bed, bar fridge (with free stuff!) and your own bathroom/shower. Food is served in the lounge and you arrive to a beautiful sunrise in Hoek van Holland before taking the train to Amsterdam. I'll let you know about the Croatian ones soon.
- Stay as long as possible.
- Avoid short-haul flights as these are the most fuel inefficient.