Flying, if you must, will probably make the most significant contribution to your annual carbon footprint. Aircraft fuel is disproportionally cheap, making for cheap package holidays, which Airport Duties have yet to properly address. Recent restrictions have led to flying being curtailed and staycations. However, as we plan for life after Covid, can we find some attractive, economic, flight-free options for holidaying further afield? Many travel companies offer non-fly holidays on cruise liners (not particularly low carbon!), river boats and scenic railways, however, there are flight free ways of getting to the Mediterranean which will add to your holiday experience.
Rail makes a pleasant alternative to flying and is much less hassle than a trip through an airport. There are some very good, high speed, non-stop train routes, for example Eurostar services to Paris and Brussels and TGV to the south of France or to Barcelona. Paris to Barcelona takes just 6.5 hours, with sleeper options available. London to Rome or Athens is more fraught but is possible and it’s not necessarily expensive. Interrail do a ‘pass’ which entitles you to unlimited rail journeys throughout Europe for say any 4 days in a one month period at reasonable rates, taking as many trains as you like on a travel day. I was quoted £199 per person to Rome return for a trip in August 2020 with 1st class only £67 more.
Driving to the Mediterranean is do-able if you can take your time, break the journey with some sightseeing and ideally share the driving. It’s easy on the web to book overnight stops and avoids any car hire costs at your destination. If your family doesn’t fill your car you could take your friends to lower the carbon cost! Consider the option of taking the car ferry to Bilboa or Santander in northern Spain, although this does involve sailing across the notorious Bay of Biscay!
Coach tours down to the Mediterranean, which are all in, can be on coaches with reclining seats plus food. For example, Glenton Holidays do a 17 day coach and beach holiday on the Spanish Costa Brava from £1023 whilst a 2 week coach holiday to the Greek Islands is just over £2,000 per person. Pricey for a family holiday, but if like me you are in your prime, want to live a low carbon life and can afford to treat yourself, this may be a more relaxing option.
Whether your preference is train, car or coach, the information you need is all on the web, start planning your eco-friendly, non-flying holiday now. Help save the planet, plan not to fly.