Travel News

Meet the slow travellers choosing trains and buses over planes

Meet the slow travellers choosing trains and buses over planes

In The Independent’s travel trends column, Trendwatch, we dig into the types of trip, modes of transport and top buzzwords to watch out for.

For years, the travel industry has predicted that holidaymakers will become more aware of the environmental impact of flying and more sustainable ways to get around. Sadly, many travel firms report that customer behaviour hasn’t yet caught up with this awareness. Flights are still bargain-basement cheap, annual leave from work often too sparse for long journeys, and many consumers are still seduced by speed and cost effectiveness.

Still, people with the luxury of flexibility – or the challenge of travelling regularly for a living – are increasingly taking the time to experiment with overland journeys. Some are seeking out ways to get around the planet that don’t involve flying, or aiming to share the lower carbon output of ground transport with a train- or busload of other travellers. And this behaviour is on the up: ethical travel specialists Responsible Travel told us their slow travel holidays saw the greatest spike of any type of trip in 2022, with a rise in customer enquiries of more than 220 per cent. Meanwhile, tour operator Intrepid Travel has partnered with flight-free specialists Byway on a range of trips to Spain, Italy and even Morocco, showing travellers what can be achieved with overland travel.

We spoke to three travel pioneers about why they’re staying grounded and regularly taking the long way to their destination, and what they’ve learnt by doing it.

Lucie outside Zagreb’s Glavni Kolodvor station

(Lucie Grace)

“People have been travelling this way since the Grand Tour and the Hippie Trail”

Lucie Grace, travel writer and digital nomad

Last summer, I flew back to Europe from Asia and I just, suddenly, felt like I didn’t want to fly for a while. It partly came from the fact that flying makes me feel a bit anxious; and had done so even more than usual during the Covid pandemic. Plane seats are quite claustrophobic, and I feel hemmed in; also, something about air travel seems to make people edgy. I thought it would be way less stressful not flying. And, as it happened, I had plans to live and work in Croatia for a spell, and I didn’t have to rush anywhere – I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely from anywhere with wifi.

So I looked into the…

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