While our modes of consumption are becoming more sustainable and slow lifestyles are gaining interest, also the ways we travel are finding new forms. The cure to travel fever might be closer than you think: exploring the neighboring small town, spending a day in the forest or taking the local train to a suburb you’ve never been to. Even in long distance travel, it is possible to choose the slower and more sustainable option. Taking the train turns the journey itself part of the holiday. And, well, flying is not always even the fastest option. As a coincidence, while writing this text, the erupting Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull volcano is causing havoc and canceling all air travel in North and Central Europe.
The British hip-hop artist Dizraeli, who is currently on his way by train back to London from Cairo, can safely continue his long journey, though. Disraeli’s report of his adventurous travel was presented last week on the British website Greentraveller. He explains why slow travel was worth it: “For me, the journey across Turkey’s Central Anatolia would be reason enough, even without climate change to consider: green fields roll as far as a horizon of snow-crowned mountains, and the train sways along tracks smooth as anything. I didn’t sleep, but I smiled a lot.”
The hip hop artist had been offered an opportunity to perform in Egypt but as a “human with eco-conscience” he could not imagine flying. He decided to take the filmmaker Billy Macrae with him to document the train ride. Their route went through Central and Eastern Europe, and then on to Turkey, Syria, Israel and Palestine, crossing countless borders and barriers.
Dizraeli describes the ride to Turkey: “From Budapest to Istanbul was a 32-hour voyage aboard the Balkan Expresi, which was a joy … We saw great brown floodplains, Soviet dereliction and the kind of forests that wolves run through, and all close enough to smell. … We stepped out at Istanbul refreshed and alive with new stories.”
The whole diary of the journey can be read here.
FROM NICHE TO NORM
Greentraveller reports also about recent surveys that indicate a growth of the green travel market. “Whether it’s from niche to norm, or enthusiasm to enactment, travel is quietly changing for the better.”
The new holiday trend could already be called traincation. According to green lifestyle movement Global Cool’s survey, 83% of British holiday travelers wish they could make a more environmentally friendly journey. “Over half of all holidaymakers are considering swapping air travel for train travel”, they report.
In Finland, a new “non-profit social travel agency”, Nopsa, was founded in January as a result of a competition for low-carbon lifestyle innovations. Nopsa is a new attempt to enhance the appeal of local, domestic travel. The founders, Liisa Jokinen and Ulla-Maaria Engeström explained their aim is to discover new types of “local luxury”: small-scale services and products that are human, aesthetic and ecological. Local luxury doesn’t have to be expensive; it could mean just a quiet day at a nearby lake. Urban Dream Management is very excited to find out, what kinds of local experiences they will soon offer. Positive outcomes can be anticipated, not only for travelers but the small towns and their residents themselves.