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A generous invite to visit a friend in Spain, easy flight under three hours and less than £100. What’s to stop you taking the plane?

I’m 73 and this year I decided to take a ‘leap of faith’ and make the journey to visit my friend, in Spain... by train. So I thought I would share my top tips from planning my trip.

I haven’t always taken the train: the first flights I took were in 2016, and I loved them. In 2018, I went with Tearfund to a project in Zambia, a huge adventure which took me way out of my comfort zone. However, while I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to fly, an uncomfortable thought has played on my mind: the emissions from flying are a big contributor to climate change which impacts people in poverty the most. In 2017, flights worldwide produced 859 million tonnes of CO2, more than double the total CO2 emissions produced by the UK in that year (373 million tonnes).

By choosing not to fly we reduce our carbon footprint and show airlines that we want to see change. Reducing the amount of carbon from flying will help in the fight against climate change.

So back to this train adventure... I was told about the website Seat 61 that works out the whole journey for you, explaining how to book the cheapest tickets and giving you lots of useful tips along the way. However, I decided to add to the adventure and work it out for myself. It took me hours! With the benefit of hindsight, Seat 61’s suggestions matched the trains I used, so maybe next time I’ll save time and take Seat 61’s advice.

Do you fancy going on an adventure and setting yourself the challenge to travel to your next holiday by train? Here are my top tips:

  1. Give yourself enough time between trains to find the platforms: Seat 61 gives time recommendations. 
  2. Make yourself a summary card of stations and times for easy reference. 
  3. Give yourself some extra time for customs and security. (They are much less arduous than airport security.) 
  4. Make sure your travel insurance covers missed trains and delays beyond your control. (Some travel insurance companies only have cover for the first journey out and the last journey back!) 
  5. If your fellow traveller is willing, it’s fun to chat and find out about them while practising your rudimentary French or Spanish, or using gestures. 
  6. Look up on a map where you are going to be travelling so you don’t miss areas of interest. 
  7. Pack yourself lots of snacks and grab your reusable water bottle and coffee cup to keep you going on the journey.

If you’re thinking about switching up something in your lifestyle to reduce your carbon emissions, such as cutting down your flights, why not let us know by pledging your change today!

Tearfund