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Flight free for beginners

If plane travel has always been your default, it can be difficult to know how to get started once air travel is off the table. Here are some tips to help.

05 Jan 2023 1 min read

See it as an opportunity not a restriction

“I’ve been to Mallorca 15 times but I’ve never been to Cornwall!” 

~ so said Gope Walker, who took our pledge in 2020. In his flight free year he explored the Welsh mountains and the Lake District, places that he would never have been to if he hadn’t been prompted to look elsewhere for his holidays. His verdict? “The mountains and lakes of England and Wales are among the most beautiful in the world.”

If you are accustomed to nipping off to Europe for a city break, how about trying a UK city break instead? From Truro in Cornwall to Aberdeen in Scotland, the UK has dozens of amazing cities that are worth exploring. Use your flight-free year as an opportunity to see some of them.

Get excited about travel

Our go-to resource is The Man in Seat 61 whose detailed accounts of how to get to almost any country in the world without flying is guaranteed to get you excited about flight-free adventures.

Use our how-to pages to find your perfect flight-free trip: how to travel by train / coach / ferry / bike / electric car

Know that you’re not doing this alone

Many of the people who take our pledge aren’t sure how it’s going to turn out. One of these is Miriam, who said, “I never thought I could go flight-free – I thought it was a crazy pledge! But I’ve loved it.” 

The testimonials section on our blog page has stories from all kinds of people who have taken the pledge. Be inspired by people's reasons for reducing their flights, and be reassured that many people might have the same questions and circumstances as you. It’s not just you doing this – thousands of people are taking our challenge to stay grounded for the climate.

Get wise with trains, coaches and ferries

There aren’t many places you can’t reach with a combination of trains, ferries and coaches, but the options might seem a little daunting to start with. Transport maps of Europe will show you what the possibilities are, and once you’ve taken your first journey, it’s much easier the next time.

Start small

Try a trip within the UK, perhaps on a sleeper train, or to a remote location. Once you’ve practiced, you’ll be ready to cross the channel – and next thing you know you’ll be heading off on a 10-country interrail adventure!

Relish the perks 

Travelling without flying means no restrictions on luggage, getting up to stretch your legs whenever you want to, and there’s a lot less waiting around and stress. You get more leg room and you can bring your own food and drink. Enjoy the benefits of flight-free travel!

Make the journey part of the holiday

It’s a cliché, but when you travel overland, the holiday really does start the minute you board the train, get in the coach, or jump in the car. When you compare journey times with a flight it might seem a bit ridiculous – for example, taking a day and a half to get to a European city rather than just a few hours.

But the journey is all part of it. You can relax, work, read or sleep. Plus you get the incredible views from the window, and you will experience other places as a bonus if you have to make connections or interchanges. It’s a journey to be enjoyed, rather than endured.

Understand that it doesn’t always go right

Of course, travel doesn’t always go right and flight-free travel is no exception. Trains can be delayed or cancelled, coaches break down, and ferries won’t run in bad weather. Try not to curse the flight-free travel gods – remember that flights get cancelled too. All travel comes with a risk of delays and problems, and those moments tend to overshadow the majority of the time when it runs smoothly. At least it will make a good story!

Staying put is awesome too

Of course, being flight free doesn't have to involve travel at all. Enjoying where you are is very beneficial to our bodies and minds, not to mention our wallets. How about challenging yourself to a hyperlocal adventure? It can be just as adventurous as travelling around the world.