What is the best mode of transport?

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Which mode of transport is your favourite way to explore? Now, if you had asked me that question before this summer, my answer would have most definitely been a toss-up between walking and planes (since that seems to be the most viable option to cross any of the seas!). Unlike the rest of the UK, with their post-covid epiphany of walking and its beauty, I have always been a strong advocate for exploring on foot. With an abundance of fields and woodlands on my doorstep at home, for years now, my friends and I’s favourite activity is often a long amble around our local area; the perfect backdrop for a gossip or a post party debrief. 

However, after interrailing this July, my mind is changed. Trains have shot up to the top of my list of ways to explore the world around us. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe travelling by foot is the best way to get your bearings in a new place and stumble across hidden gems – but my view of trains has most definitely transformed. After buying my global travel pass, gifting myself 7 days of travel by train, I unlocked the ability to glide from city to city, around Europe, swiftly journeying from London across to Split. Trains became a portal from which I seamlessly teleported from one new city to the next. Their ease, unlike planes, is also not something to be underestimated. No need to queue for hours, cram your essential toiletries into tiny 100ml bottles or face the dreaded security line…instead you simply waltz on, find your assigned seat and take a breather for the next few hours. Simple. I gained a new appreciation for my proximity to the Eurostar, an incredible rail-service, this summer. Within a few hours of leaving St Pancras Station, we were transported into a whole new world as we got thrown into our Europe exploration and smoothly arrived at Amsterdam Centraal.

Trains became a portal from which I seamlessly teleported from one new city to the next

Trains are also a great alterative to travelling via air as their far more sustainable, using 20% less energy than planes per passenger mile. You can also feel immersed in the country and its landscape, whilst seated safely inside your carriage, allowing you to get a flavour of the new scenery as you arrive at your destination.  A core memory of my trip was the beautiful train from Vienna to Slovenia. We snagged a private carriage to ourselves, had the tunes blasting, golden hour was at its peak, complete freedom; it was the perfect moment.

However, let me make sure I don’t completely glamorise travelling by trains. Our journey from Berlin to Prague was pretty unforgettable and is now wedged in my brain not too dissimilarly from my position in the cramped carriage. Using my backpack as a pillow and mattress simultaneously, whilst on a mere three hours sleep and sardined next to strangers and a bin; it was certainly memorable, to say the least. Topped off by the train staff yanking my earphones off my ears (still unsure why?!) – trains aren’t always the most pleasant transport option. Nevertheless, this experience, although unpleasant, I like to think was character building and simply felt like a rite of passage we had to endure on our interrail adventures.

Trains also provided the perfect place for catching up on some much-needed R&R. Much to the annoyance of my travel partners, over the course of the month I perfected the art of falling asleep just about anywhere – from the shoulder of a friend to the side of a rattling train or a seat tray. Aisle seat? Noisy carriage? Berlin train floor? No problem. Trains provided an extra ‘bed’ for me throughout my trip – an extra tick against their name in the competition for my favourite way to explore.

So, I urge you to reconsider your views on trains. Next time you and your friends are bored of uni work and the endless summative season and find yourself visualising you next getaway, take a look at travelling via train. Not only are you taking a step towards becoming more sustainable, but like me you may also find a new appreciation for them!

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One thought on “What is the best mode of transport?

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