Be the Change| Traveling by land or ferry over flying

We all want to enjoy some guaranteed sun, explore new places and experience other cultures. And the good news is, it is possible and even more rewarding to travel abroad in a low impact way. Read on to hear from members of our university community who have done just that!

A year abroad by land, Haydn Davies, Economics student and Sustainability Champion for the School of Economics

“I gave up flying in the summer of 2022 and managed to do my year abroad after that without flying. Considering that 5 billion of the world’s population will never step on plane, sacrificing being able to fly purely for leisure is a sacrifice I’m very willing to make. The happiness that you derive from leisure time is largely based off who you are with. Personally, I can have equally a good time in the Mendips with close friends as in Thailand!

Being fascinated by other cultures and history, the obstacle of land travel doesn’t impact my desire to get there. Sure it takes much longer, but that gives you much more time to experience and appreciate the local cultures on the way.”

Panoramic view of an Alpine glacier from the Bernina Express
Panoramic view of an Alpine glacier from the Bernina Express

A family rail adventure to Italy, James Ryle, Transport Sustainability Manager

“Our family trip to Italy, originally planned for summer 2020, finally came to fruition three years later. With two older teenage boys, we opted for a rail adventure in northern Italy, a region offering a diverse range of attractions, including seaside, lakes, mountain scenery, historic cities, and, of course, pizza and ice cream!

The challenge was to make the journey flight-free without being constantly on the move. The Man In Seat 61 website and the trainline app were invaluable for trip planning, allowing us to book and organize all train tickets easily.

In the end, after breakfast at St Pancras, Eurostar and the high-speed service from Paris to Milan made quick work of the outward journey, leaving time for the all-important first pizza of the holiday.

As we found, travelling around this part of Italy by train could hardly be easier, with a choice of fast inter-city and stopping regional services reaching everywhere on our wish list.

After a few days in Genoa, including a day trip to the famous Cinque Terre coastal villages, we headed for Bologna, a beautiful university town, if a bit of a baking oven at the height of summer.

From there we began a slow journey home via Lake Como and the scenic Bernina Express railway over the Alps towards Zurich, completing the final leg to Bristol via Paris and London in a day.

Top tip? It’s perfectly possible to have an amazing holiday across Europe by train but remember the journey is a big part of the experience!”

Visiting family in Germany, Lucy Westover, Specialist Technician, Bristol Medical School

“My first long-haul train journey was to visit my family who live in Lübeck, northern Germany. There are several routes you can take to get to Germany going through either Amsterdam or Brussels, both of which you can get the Eurostar to. You can then get to Germany without too many train changes so the trains were relatively straight forward to figure out and book and the journey takes around 14 hours.

We really enjoyed the journey and it meant we saw so many German towns that we otherwise would have never been to; it made the whole thing feel like much more of an adventure! I am not planning on flying in the future to any destination I can get to via train. This year I am planning on a couple more train trips: back to Germany to see family, France with friends and I’m also planning an interrailing trip around Europe!”

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