In the first of a series of guest posts Tom Greenwood, from HotelsFairy, extolls the benefits of ditching planes in favour of travelling overland.
In this era of cheap flights, it seems easier than ever to travel the world. You can book flights to foreign lands for less than a London to Glasgow train ticket, and sometimes for as little as a local bus ticket. You buy your ticket online, turn up at the airport, hop into a giant aluminium tube and within a couple of hours you pop up in your chosen holiday destination.
There is absolutely no doubt that travel has become more accessible as a result, but are we missing out on some of the things that make travelling such a great experience, and is there still any reason to do things the old fashioned way and travel by land?
Well I think there is, so here are five great reasons to travel overland:
1. A sense of place
Surely one of the greatest sensations of travel is the feeling of being somewhere far away and different, and there’s no better way of appreciating where you are than having travelled overland and witnessed first-hand the changes of landscape, culture, food and architecture a long way. Especially if you’re travelling from the UK, the sight of the white cliffs of Dover disappearing on the horizon as you sail across the channel signals the start of our foreign adventure.
Yes, in theory it can take a lot longer to reach your destination but your journey is a part of the holiday, not just a way of getting there, and the time it takes helps us to appreciate just how far we have really travelled.
2. A richer travel experience
If you travel by plane then your experience doesn’t really start until you leave the airport arrivals hall at your destination. Until then, it is a monotonous, generic air travel experience that is almost identical wherever you are in the world. Travel overland on the other hand and your holiday experience begins the moment you leave the house.
Before you even get to your destination, you will already have seen new landscapes, tried new food and drink, stayed in hotels and guesthouses, met local people and utilised different modes of transport. Along the way you’ll visit places that you’ve never even heard of, yet so often it is these undiscovered gems that you’ll remember most fondly when you get back home.
Whatever country you visit, to experience the real place you need not go to the major tourist attractions and resorts, but to all the places in between.
3. Satisfaction and adventure
Cheap flights make travel easy, but just maybe it has become too easy. Half the thrill of travel is the enormous sense of achievement of venturing into the unknown and getting yourself hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home under your own initiative, contending with language and cultural barriers to reach your destination.
If you just want a relaxing holiday on a beach, then clearly you’d be better off with EasyJet or a package holiday, but if you’re hungry for adventure then finding your way by car, train, boat, bus, tram, bicycle or any other mode of overland transport is undoubtedly a lot more fun.
4. Reduced environmental impact
Air travel is known to be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and the easiest way to keep the impact of your travels to a minimum is to travel by land. Even if you travel by car, you can reduce emissions by anything from 50 to 80%, depending on how many passengers you take with you and what route you take. And of course if you travel by train or coach, you could reduce your impact even further.
5. Do something different
One of the greatest things about overland travel is its flexibility to take you wherever you want to go. You’re not limited by routes of the cheap airlines and can discover beautiful, unique destinations away from the hordes of tourists.
It’s so easy to get to Barcelona or Rome these days and as a result it seems that nearly everyone has been there, but who’s been to Erding, or Troyes or Heviz? If you want to go somewhere that is truly special and that your friends haven’t been to, there’s no better way than to travel by land.
Tom Greenwood is an enthusiast of overland and green travel and has explored much of Europe by car and train. He’s also the owner of the hotel price comparison website Hotels-Fairy.com.
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