It’s no secret that air travel has a huge environmental impact. And as more and more people become aware of that, a new trend has emerged in the travel industry - the no-fly holiday. Imagine holidays that don't involve flying, and instead rely on other modes of transportation to get to your destination.
Think interrailing around Europe, e-biking holidays, hopping on a boat or hitchhiking. The mode of transportation becomes an exciting part of the whole journey.
According to ABTA’s 2023 Travel Trends Report, we’re seeing a rail revival in Europe along with new destinations added to cruises departing from and returning to the UK.
Some might choose to go on a no-fly holiday driven by a desire to reduce their carbon footprint and limit their impact on the environment, while others are looking for less traditional ways of exploring new places.
So, how can you have the best no-fly holiday and what are the alternatives to air travel?
New train journeys
Train travel has long been a popular way to see the world, but in recent years it has seen a surge in popularity as a no-fly holiday option. With trains covering vast distances and offering scenic views, it's no wonder more and more people are choosing to travel by rail.
What’s adding more to the picture is the emergence of new train journeys in Europe, designed to take travellers through the wonders of the railroad. In 2023, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita is making its debut.
It will transport passengers through 14 Italian regions in its 12 cars, allowing them to revel in the “charm of pure luxury and the pleasures of an iconic train” through the picturesque landscapes of Italy.
Spain has also extended its free travel scheme to the end of 2023, which allows local and international visitors to receive free train tickets for selected short and medium-distance journeys operated by the train line Renfe.
Interrailing is another great option for eager travellers, which is not just for students. You can purchase a rail pass that allows you to travel by train throughout all of Europe, meaning you can explore multiple cities and countries in one trip. Interrailing is also not only environmentally-friendly and fun to do, but it also a great budget-friendly option.
In 2023, there are ample opportunities to enjoy beautiful views from your train window and experience new destinations while being kind to the environment.
For those who want to combine exercise with exploration, e-biking holidays are the perfect option. Electric bikes make cycling long distances much easier, meaning you can cover more ground and enjoy more of the scenery.
The UK has plenty of opportunities for cyclists to explore both family-friendly routes and challenging terrains for mountain bikes, which makes the island the perfect destination for a cycling holiday.
Nevertheless, if you want to explore abroad destinations, e-biking holidays are available all over the world. Since you’re travelling no-fly style, you will need to add another mode of transportation to your journey to enjoy your e-biking experience.
The Eurostar provides you with a great train option to Paris that allows you to bring your e-bike on board with you as long as it’s boxed and you book your space for it in advance. Meanwhile, taking the ferry to Paris or Amsterdam is beyond exciting. At the end of the day, the Netherlands is the mecca of cycling, so why not explore it?
The charges for bringing your e-bike on the ferry vary between companies, and some might even allow you to bring it for free, while others might require you to have a separate boarding card for your bike.
If you want to get a bit further with your electric bike, consider getting to France on the Netherlands by the train or the ferry and then renting a car that can accommodate your e-bikes to your next destination abroad.
Cruises with sustainability in mind
Cruises might have traditionally been associated with the elderly population, but they are recently gaining momentum. Cruiseline.com and Shipmate’s 2022 Member Survey shows that 91.4 percent of respondents plan to take a cruise within 2023.
Intriguingly, sustainability is a driving trend when it comes to the cruising experience.
“[Sustainability] needs to be reflected not only in the infrastructure that enables the vacation — cruise ships, planes, trains, etc. — but also throughout the entire travel experience. How are we being responsible destination partners? Taking care of the planet and each other? The cruise industry, like many others, already does so much, but we must continue to innovate and share all that we are doing,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, a 37-year cruise industry veteran.
Bucket-list destinations along with a focus on wellness are also dominating the cruise industry trends this year. After a few years of quiet travel, it’s now time for ‘revenge travel’, a term rightfully coined in the industry, matched with a rise in self-care experiences.
There are many short and long-terms cruises departing from the UK, and you can choose from a river cruise, an ocean cruise and an expedition cruise. Some popular destinations include the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and the Norwegian Fjords.
This year, customers of P&O Cruises will be able to sail from the UK to its newest ship, Arvia, from where it takes on a sailing journey around the Mediterranean from Southampton.
The surge in slow travel is making us rethink the popular saying that it’s about the journey, not the destination. So where will be your next no-fly destination?