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How to Travel Without Flying

No Flying

We've become so used to booking cheap flights and arriving at our holiday destinations super quickly, that it's hard to imagine any other way of travelling. But there's more to travel than luggage restrictions, cheap airline food, BA strikes and volcanic ash flight cancellations.

Slow down your pace and you could find that travelling by train, boat or road can be as convenient as air travel - it can also be cheap and exciting.

Take your time

The reason we fly is largely down to time - we want to get where we're going fast and start our holiday as soon as possible. But what if the journey was part of the holiday? Look at your train, bus or boat as a pleasant part of the holiday experience and you won't resent 'losing' time travelling.

Plan - but be flexible

Avoiding flying can mean you have to take on a bit more planning. Investigate alternative travel options and research your journey well in advance as trains and ferries can book up months ahead of departure. In some cases you won't be able to book onward train or ferry crossings until you are at your destination - keep your plans flexible in this case as, depending on availability, you may have to depart at short notice, or hang around a little longer than intended.

Remember the detail

Just because you're not travelling through an airport, doesn't mean you don't need your passport, visas and relevant travel documentation. Check your visa requirements with your destination embassy - in some cases, requirements may vary if you're arriving into a port or station.

Get on a boat

Ferries can be surprisingly flexible with routes out of the UK to France, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and beyond. You can take your car, you don't have to worry about luggage restrictions and, in some cases, you can even bring the dog along. Try Direct Ferries or Brittany Ferries as a starting point. For an added quirk, think about travelling by cargo ship. Freighters travel all over the world and, while carrying cargo, most offer passenger space (cabins and a restaurant). See Freighterman for advice, or an agent such as Strand Travel.

Travel by train

If you've sailed out of the UK (or jumped on a Eurostar) don't undo all your hard eco work once you're at your destination. Many countries have excellent train networks that are fast and cheap, and you can even cross borders by rail. See The Man In Seat 61 for excellent advice on how to travel by train.

Take a road trip

Driving can be a great way of crossing borders and exploring a country. Consider sail-and-drive, or train-and-drive options. Alternatively, look into coach travel. This can be a cheap way to travel and offer opportunities to meet fellow travellers. See an agent such as Coach Holidays to get started.

Cruise away

Make the mode of transport a fundamental part of your holiday and cruise away. Year on year (according to the Passenger Shipping Association), cruising is becoming more popular. If you're yet to be convinced, just consider the double VV: value for money and variety (different destinations, on board activities and style of cruise) or see our top tips to cruising. If you're worried about whether cruising is for you, try a mini taster cruise (two to seven nights) before you shell out on a longer holiday. Virgin Cruise Holidays offer decent info on this type of break. For a good all round guide to the type of cruises available departing from the UK, see Discover Cruises.

Make life easy with a package deal

If you'd rather take the planning out of your holiday, hook up with an operator such as No Flights who can organise a complete deal. They can plan holidays as far a field as Barbados without even mentioning the word 'airport'.

Stay local

The staycation is ever popular - and with good reason. As well as being cheaper, it can be eye-opening to discover what's on your doorstep. The Rail Rover offers travellers a jump on, jump off pass to most national rail lines, or try websites such as Visit Britain for inspiration.

Be imaginative

If mixing up your travel plans has become a bit addictive, continue to think laterally... can you get around a city on rollerblades, for example, to avoid taxis? Is a camel across the desert a more exciting option than a 4x4? And why not try a canoe, peddle boat or windsurf when exploring the coast?

Last Updated: May 2010