Train journeys in Europe to some amazing destinations without getting on a flight.
Flygskam is the Swedish word for the shame travelers feel about flying because of the greenhouse gases that flying emits. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg has backed the campaign no-flying campaign. She has not flown since 2015, travelled to London from Stockholm by train to urge others to encourage people to stop flying.
CO2 levels are on the rise, plastics fill our oceans, and oxygen producers are being slaughtered at a ramped up rate. Tolerance for these practices is wearing thin as more people become educated about our impact. Thousands globally are taking to the streets to protest and demand better practices to lower our impact and bring awareness of our climate’s changes.
With climate change, there will be harsher winters as well as harsher summers in our future. There are many ways we can curb this, and an immediate daily action would be to change how we travel.
One of the most impactful ways we fill our atmosphere with CO2 is by taking planes to destinations that we could otherwise get to by land. Even a short-haul return flight from Edinburgh to London Gatwick (438.8 miles or 706.2 kms) and back generates about 131 kg CO2. There are 10 countries where the average person produces less CO2 in a year. To learn how much CO2 your next flight will put off plug it in here.
Here are some ways to avoid taking flights in Europe.
Take the train from London to Edinburgh
The average journey time between the London Gatwick Airport to Edinburgh is roughly 7 hours 52 minutes. This is also roughly the same amount of time it would be to drive, though this adds the possibility of sleep or getting work done. You can also take a train from King’s Cross in London to the gorgeous Waverley station in Edinburgh.
Also check out the Caledonian sleeper between London and Scotland to travel in style.
Also, as a city, Edinburgh is delightful to explore on foot. A walk along the Royal Mile, the streets linking Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, is full of charming townhouses, churches, and historic landmarks.
On an average weekday, there are 14 trains from Gatwick to Edinburgh. Emission from the train between locations would be 24 kg CO2 per person compared to the previously mentioned 131 kg of CO2, that would’ve been emitted per person by plane. That’s 81.62% less CO2 emission per person.
Take the train from London to Paris
Flying from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle and back generates about 92 kg CO2. Not to mention, the nuisance of security checks, travel times to the aiport, etc. Eurostar is one of the most comfortable ways to get from London’s St Pancras International to Gare du Nord in Paris. There are seven countries where the average person produces less CO2 in a whole year. Taking the train will cut CO2 put off to 22 kg of CO2 per person – that’s a whopping 76.09% decrease.
You could also take a bus to Paris and even Belgium from London at ridiculously low prices (though slightly longer travel times).
Walking around Paris is magical and public transport is the best way to get around. But it’s also worth noting that cycling advocates in Paris have proposed a network of bicycle paths connecting the suburbs and city center. It could make longer-distance bike commuting for suburban Parisians not just feasible, but actually desirable. Check out this map of official cycling lanes in Paris here.
Take an emission-free ferry from Sweden to Denmark
In the Oresund Strait between Sweden and Denmark, there are the world’s largest battery-powered ferries. The Tycho Brahe and Aurora ferries operated by Sweden’s ForSea allow you to enjoy some fresh air, feel the breeze on your skin, and the weight of flygskam lift away. One crosses every 15 minutes, charging in less than 6 minutes in Denmark and 9 minutes in Sweden. This eight-week conversion of these previously diesel ships prevented the 28,000 tons of carbon dioxide they usually would spew per year.
Both, Sweden and Denmark, have an excellent cycling infrastructure. One more way to travel better! Look for ‘Nature’s Best’, Europe’s first eco-label, when you choose a tour in Sweden. Nearly hundred eco-certified tour operators around the country follow strict standards to get this label. For hotels, look up Nordic Eco-labeled hotels with the Swan label.
Spain to Italy
The distance from Spain to Italy is 1219 miles (1961 km) which would be a 20-hour drive. The train ride from Rome to Madrid can also take up to 20 hours, though it’s chock full of scenery. Check local bookings, though spending a day looking out the train window reading poetry and drinking local wine seems like something out of a dream.
To reach Italy by train, you’d have to cross France. For example, from Barcelona you would go to Valence then Chambery in France. From there you head to Milan in Italy.
There are 3 ferry routes as well that operate between Italy and Spain if you prefer water travel, they also have about 10 sailing tours.
Portugal to Belgium
If you’re looking to makes the 1883 km (1170 mile) trek from Portugal to Belgium I highly recommend not flying, as you could’ve guessed, because of environmental reasons. Though who could miss the opportunity to witness the majestic wine countryside of France on your way!
When you’re in Belgium do as the Belgians do, at least 24% of them do, and bike! You will discover places you would simply not see if you were traveling by car. Like most places in Belgium (Amsterdam especially), public transportation is good, however, biking is often faster. It is also recommended to try out renting a bike for one day before committing to multiple days in advance.
Brussels or Paris to Amsterdam
It takes less than two hours by train to reach Amsterdam’s Centraal Station! So why would you take a flight?
If you’re travelling from London to Amsterdam, Eurostar has a new route that will take you to Amsterdam.
Munich, Germany to Vienna, Austria
The journey between Munich and the Austrian capital can be done in about four hours by train. The trains are frequent and daily, so you really have no excuse to book a flight!
Berlin to Prague
The journey between the German and Czech capitals can be done and dusted with in about four and a half hoiurs. Frequent direct trains arrive in Prague throughout the day.
People often think that it’s a lot more expensive than budget flights – but book in advance and you’ll end up with a fantastic deal on Europe train journeys. Eurostar, German and Austrian railways open bookings up to 180 days ahead, but most other European trains open for sale 90 or sometimes 120 days ahead
So, if you are driven like Greta Thunberg to be cognizant about our ever-changing environment or if you’re just trying to be more creative with your travels, I highly recommend looking into public transport, biking, taking the ferry or train to make your travels livelier. See the things and meet the people that you would’ve otherwise missed out on.
For more tips on going green check out these links: