True travel lovers want to get the most of their holidays while making the smallest environmental impact - or even contributing positively to the destinations they visit.
Heading abroad to enjoy a mindful itinerary is all well and good, but have you factored in the impact of your transport choices?
UK holidaymakers looking to visit Italy and Spain now have another way to feel good about the whole experience, with sustainable train and trip packages from Byway and Intrepid Travel.
How do the flight-free Byway x Intrepid packages work?
Those who book a European small group adventure with Intrepid will be directed to the Byway website to arrange their flight-free slow travel journey to and from the tour - by train, sleeper train and boat.
“It’s going to take real industry collaboration to materially lower our carbon impact, and the best way to do this is to offer delightful holistic door-to-door slow travel experiences,” says Cat Jones, founder and CEO of Byway. “We’re delighted to be partnering with Intrepid, a well-known and superb tour operator, to offer their customers truly flight-free round-trip travel.”
Susanne Etti, global environmental impact manager at Intrepid, believes the partnership is an “industry-first” which will make 100 per cent flight-free holidays easier than ever.
According to a survey of 1,000 people by the company in June 2022, 54 per cent of Brits think travelling sustainably is important. 52 per cent also said they planned to travel for longer periods post-pandemic.
The proportion of people who wish they could go on more holidays is surely close to 100 per cent, making the time and cost of slow travel an important consideration. But train routes are getting quicker, cheaper, comfier and more intricate all the time.
With Byway the journey really is what matters, so here’s a taste of what’s in store for intrepid travellers who prefer to stay grounded.
Go on a real Italian food adventure
Spend a leisurely four days travelling from London to Venice by train with Byway before embarking on Intrepid’s ‘Real Food Adventure’. By train, you’ll have the chance to explore Paris, Zurich, Switzerland’s oldest city of Chur, and the charming small town of Tirano along the way. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhaetian Railing with its spectacular panoramic views is a real highlight.
Once in Venice, you’ll join your Intrepid group to embark on a culinary journey through Italy. With plenty of hands-on cooking demos, you’ll learn there’s far more to Italian food than pizza and pasta. Taste genuine balsamic vinegar in an acetaia, get an inside look at wine and olive oil production on a farm stay in Tuscany, and learn how to roll pasta like a pro in Bologna.
You’ll enjoy a final day in Rome before heading slowly home by sleeper train, stopping along the way to explore the culture and cuisine of Munich, Cologne and Brussels.
Total trip length: 16 days
Intrepid Travel cost: from £2,020pp (€2,418). Outbound journey to Venice: £737pp (€882). Inbound journey from Rome: £718pp (€859)
Drink up the vineyards of Tuscany via the Alps
Travel from London to Rome over three days by train with Byway before discovering the treasures of Tuscany on Intrepid’s ‘Premium Tuscany’ tour. On the way, you’ll whizz through Belgium on a German ICE train and spend a night in Cologne, renowned for its gothic architecture. Dinner in Munich awaits before boarding a Nightjet sleeper train through the Alps to Rome.
Once in the capital, join your Intrepid group for an eight-day adventure through the heart of Tuscany. Explore Venice’s Piazza San Marco, Pisa’s Leaning Tower and Rome’s iconic colosseum under moonlight with a local guide. Spend a memorable night in the vineyards of Tuscany in a hotel converted from an 11th century convent, and visit the wine-growing region of San Gimignano to sample world-class vintages at a family-run winery.
Once your Intrepid tour ends in Venice you’ll travel by train to Milan, then over the Rhaetian Railway, famous for its spectacular Swiss Alpine views, and stop off in lesser-known Chur for fondue. Your last stay will be in Zürich where you can see the city by boat before heading home.
Total trip length: 15 days
Intrepid Travel cost: from £2,930pp (€3,507). Outbound journey to Rome: £661pp (€791). Inbound journey from Venice: £776pp (€929)
Soak up the highlights of Andalucia
Relish three days travelling by train from London to Seville. Along the way stay one night in Avignon, a beautiful medieval French city with a rich history visible in its architecture, museums and galleries. You’ll also spend a night in Madrid - the city renowned for its art museums, historic buildings and nightlife.
Once you arrive in Seville, spend eight-days with your Intrepid group marvelling at the sights, sounds and smells of Spain’s south. You’ll see the highlights of Seville, Ronda and Granada while feasting on region-specific tapas and exploring historic hilltop cities. Enjoy an olive-oil tasting at a local family-run mill and sample local beers and Iberico ham from the owner of a local deli.
From Granada, the end of your Intrepid tour, you will travel home via Madrid and Girona, visiting the Royal Palace and the Dalí Theatre-Museum, if you like. Your last night will be in Paris, with time to enjoy shops and bars along the Canal Saint-Martin.
Total trip length: 15 days
Intrepid Travel cost: from £1,144pp (€1,369). Outbound journey to Seville: £624pp (€747). Inbound journey from Granada £716pp (€857).
Byway and Intrepid Travel add that more destinations will emerge in the next phase of the partnership.