Perhaps it’s because you want to do your bit to reduce your carbon footprint. Or maybe you’re just not ready with the COVID-19 pandemic still going on to spend a few hours cooped up at close quarters with dozens of fellow passengers.
Whatever your reasons, you’re far from alone if you’re reconsidering how much you really want to fly just now. According to some studies, 60% of people are planning on cutting down on the amount they fly going forward.
So does that mean an end to Brits flocking to the Mediterranean in their droves every summer? Will popular destinations like Spain, which to a large extent have built their tourism economies on the back of budget air travel, now be out of reach to many eco-conscious travellers?
Is the combination of climate and COVID hesitancy going to kill overseas travel as we know it?
That all seems unlikely, not least because flying is by no means the only option when it comes to travelling abroad – especially to relatively nearby destinations like Spain. There are plenty of choices for ditching the plane and still travelling to Spain. And the bonus is, they all provide unique experiences that you can embrace as part of the holiday adventure.
Here are the three best ways to travel to Spain without having to fly.
For some people, road trips are the only way to holiday. If you want to cut out flying but still fancy your annual dose of Iberian sunshine, now is your perfect opportunity to find out why.
The big appeal of travelling by road, in your own vehicle at any rate, is the freedom it gives you. Spain can be reached in about 24 hours by road from the UK if you have someone to share the driving with and want to do it straight through. But as most of the journey takes you through France, you have a great opportunity to explore that great country on the way with a couple of planned (or not so planned) stops. But don’t forget to get an international driver’s license before you start this journey.
If you want a more environmentally friendly option than driving your own car or motorhome, there are plenty of options for travelling to Spain by coach, either as part of a chartered package or via a long-distance coach operator.
The one disadvantage of travelling to Spain by road is that, once you complete the significant trek through France and reach northern Spain, much of the country is still some distance away. Travelling to the far west or to the south of Spain by road adds a lot of time and a lot of miles to your journey. If it’s your first time planning a long-distance road trip, you might be best off sticking to the northern regions like Catalonia.
There’s something incredibly romantic about travelling cross country by train, and one huge attraction of travelling to Spain by rail is the spectacular views you get of the Pyrenees as you cross over from France. Thanks to rapid Eurostar connections between London and Paris, it’s now possible to get to Barcelona from St Pancras Station in a little over nine hours total travelling time, including a hop across Paris to change trains.
For a more leisurely option, you could opt for the Paris to Toulouse night train, which sees you breakfast in the pretty southern French city at the foot of the Pyrenees before catching the onwards train to Barcelona. From Barcelona, you can easily reach most major Spanish cities via Spain’s impressive high speed rail network.
Finally, arguably the most relaxing way to travel to Spain of them all is via ferry. You might associate ferries with the relatively short hops across the channel to France, but you can also take a boat from Portsmouth all the way to Santander on Spain’s north coast.
The crossing takes about 36 hours and traverses the Bay of Biscay, where if you’re lucky you might spot dolphins and whales from the observation deck. And while 36 hours sounds like a long time, you can just treat the journey as an extra night of your holiday – there are cabins to sleep in, bars and restaurants on board, even a host of entertainment options including film screenings, arcades and live performances.
However you decide to travel to Spain, do bear in mind that all the things that can go wrong on a holiday – losing your luggage, one of your party falling ill, having to cancel or missing your connection home because of a positive COVID test – still apply whatever mode of transport you go for. Now more than ever, make sure you protect yourself and take out Spain travel insurance before you travel.