Travelling is awesome! If we’re honest, we would love to spend our entire lives on holiday, jetting off at any given opportunity. However, if we all lived that lifestyle there wouldn’t be much of the world left to see after a while. Fortunately, there is a solution where you can travel the world and keep your inner Greta Thunberg happy: eco-friendly train travel!
Personally, I prefer taking the train where possible. Airports are crowded and stressful, you have to turn up and check in stupidly early, and there always seems to be way more faff than is necessary. On the trains, you just turn up and sit down. No waiting around, no paying £15 for a big mac and no standing in line for hours whilst some old bloke takes all the liquids out of their bag (despite being told three times to do it already).
I recently took the train from Germany to Croatia, and we were treated to some unbelievable views, passing through the Austrian Alps before heading down through the countryside in Slovenia. It took a bit longer than if we’d flown, but the journey itself made it a lot more bearable, peacefully trundling past beautiful landscapes. You can bring your own food and drink, stretch your legs and most importantly, use your phone! In my opinion, these things make the whole experience so much more comfortable than being cramped up in a tin can in the sky.
The point of this article isn’t some personal vendetta against planes. In some cases, there are no alternatives but to fly. It has to be mentioned though, that trains also win on what is arguably the most important issue in travel at the moment- the environment. I’m not ignoring the fact that trains also release carbon emissions, but the difference between the amount they produce compared to flights is staggering. Take the journey from London to Paris for example; A fight would omit an average of 121.3 kgs of carbon dioxide per passenger on average, whereas the train would omit only 15 kg. The train only takes an hour longer, so it would probably also be quicker to take the train given airport queues and security.
The amount of emissions we generate comes into play a lot more on trips where you visit several destinations in one go. Take our two-week Whole Hog trip as an example: One person doing this trip by train would create 128.2 kg of CO2 emissions. If you did the same route but flew between cities, then it you would generate 735kg of CO2 emissions. This means doing the trip by train creates 83% less CO2 emissions than the flights would.
In order to stop climate change, the maximum amount of CO2 each person would be able to omit would be 545 kg a year. This means you would be over that by doing the Whole Hog trip by Plane, and that’s before you factor in any other CO2 you’d omit throughout the rest of the year. By contrast, you wouldn’t even be hitting a quarter of your maximum amount if you did it by train, meaning if you really wanted to you could do the Whole Hog trip 4 times and still help stop climate change, as long as you walked or cycled everywhere for the rest of the year. In reality, though, one Whole Hog would probably be enough, and it would still be a lot easier to stay underneath your maximum amount of emissions.
With all that info in mind, it seems a no-brainer to take the train when you have the option to. I’m not saying you should never fly again, as it is necessary to get to places that are slightly further afield, but Train travel offers a more relaxed and more genuine experience. Travellers can take their time and soak up the scenery without the faff, anxiety and cramped legs that come with taking a plane.
Most importantly though, we travel to see the world. At the rate we’re going, we’re not going to have a world left to see before too long. Climate change is real, so we need to do our best to stop it. This doesn’t mean sacrificing seeing the world, we just need to be sensible in the way we go about it.
Looking for an unforgettable experience that doesn’t hurt the planet? Our trips produce an average of 72% less carbon emissions than the same trips taken by air. Check out our Group Tours, Set Trips and Custom Trip Builder.
Words by Tolly Byrne