Alternative means of travelling
How will you travel on your next journey?
Have you decided –after reading our destination theme- to which location you will travel next? Great! Now it is time to plan how to get there. Whether you want to travel in a more responsible way or have had enough of the long waiting at the airport or in traffic jams, it is good to be aware of the different ways in which travelling is possible.
There are plenty of options other than the conventional way of travelling by car or airplane: you can take the train, the bus, or get more active and go biking or walking. Or is an electric auto rickshaw maybe more suitable for you? You can read all about this in this article, where I will discuss the different means of travelling within Europe.
Biking and walking
No need to buy tickets and no driving licence is required when you use your own legs. When travelling by foot, it is possible to slowly discover the environment. This also means that travelling with a natural speed of five to six km/h and with a limited time during holidays, it is hard to reach distant destinations. This could be easily solved by combining other transport modes like taking the train or hitchhiking. Both biking and walking require thorough preparation since good equipment like clothing and bags are needed. It is important to keep in mind that you have to carry your luggage, which contains everything you will need on your journey. Inform yourself about how to prepare your bags and route by reading guides or get into contact with an experienced walker or biker.
A sustainable replacement of travelling with a car is an electric vehicle. In this case, it is important to choose a green energy supplier to make sure the car uses green energy. Electric cars do already exist but are not affordable for everyone yet. Dutch journalist Aranka van der Pol used an electric auto rickshaw to travel along the west coast of Europe, from the Netherlands to Portugal. A disadvantage of electric vehicles is that they have to be charged quite often. Electric cars can drive an average distance of 280 km without charging and Arankas’ rickshaw had to be charged every 50 – 80 km. However, because of these short stops Aranka came into contact with locals which resulted in surprising and inspiring stories. If you really want to travel on the road, but do not have a driver licence or the opportunity to travel on electricity, FlixBus and BlablaCar could be good alternatives.
BlablaCar is a carpool platform which brings car owners with free seats into contact with people who are looking for a ride and claims to be 75% cheaper than traveling by train. As a traveler, you can check other members’ profiles and choose with whom you want to travel . The site has millions of members with verified profiles and is active in 22 countries, including a big part of Europe. A nice side effect is that you mostly drive with people who know the destination very well and give you some insider tips. Carpooling and hitchhiking can raise some concerns about security. I spent some time on the internet to investigate whether these concerns are legitimate and I found that hitchhiking seems to be considerably less dangerous than some people think, although it is very difficult to find more specific information. Of course it is recommended to use your instincts and intuition. An advantage of BlablaCar is that you can check the ratings of other members and additionally there is a ‘ladies only’ option for women who prefer to ride with a female driver. BlablaCar is a form of sharing economy which makes travelling on the road more attractive, affordable and efficient. However, because it’s an appealing way of transport it will sometimes reduce the use of public transport or cycling options, which are from an environmental point of view better options than car driving.
Flixbus offers cheap travels to over 2000 destinations in 28 European countries, which makes it quite easy to travel from one place to another. But keep in mind that busses do depart and arrive at certain more populated destinations. Flixbus is a great option for day trips and short distances. Often their buses are almost as fast as trains if you only travel 2-3 hours . For bigger journeys a transfer is sometimes needed and is sometimes quite time consuming. Travelling from Amsterdam to Madrid will take 25-26 hours as one transfer is needed in Paris, whereas it takes 15-19 hours when travelling by car. When travelling with Flixbus there is still a risk of traffic jams and delays. Flixbus offers Wi-Fi, power outlets, a toilet and comfortable chairs, however chairs in trains are more spacious. Overnight busses are an option as well. Last but not least, Flixbus offers an option to compensate the CO2 emission by a donation which will be invested in a climate protection project. Read more about CO2 compensation in Emmy’s article here.
Like Flixbus, trains are tied to stations as well but apart from some transfers there is not much more action needed. In contrast to travelling on the road, there is no risk for traffic jams. However, delays are still possible but if this happens you can sit in the waiting room or explore the train station. Taking the train is a relatively fast means of transport and enables you to travel to distant destinations. The train offers a high level of comfort due to its linear motion, making it very suitable for reading a book, watching series or sleeping. It is also possible to stand up and walk for a bit in case your legs get stiff. In some case there is Wi-Fi available. Taking the train is becoming more popular and the European railways are expanding: Since April 2018 it is possible to travel from London to Amsterdam directly which takes 3 hours and 41 minutes. The option for tickets and passes are enormous. With an interrail global pass, you can travel to 40.000 destinations in 30 different countries in Europe. There is a discount for travelers under 27, children and seniors. With the interactive tool you can choose the right interrail pass.
Taking the train is one of the best options for the environment when it runs on green electricity. Since 2017, all the electric trains of the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen; the main passenger railway operator in the Netherlands) run on sustainable energy.
Taking a different mode of transportation than airplane or car allows one to experience the environment, rather than just travel from point a to b. Experiencing the changing environment while travelling makes the travel a whole experience on itself. Two last tips: When you decide your mode of transport before your destination, it is easier to find a place to which it is easier to travel. Also, don’t forget that combining different modes is possible as well.