A couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to spend a holiday in the gorgeous and much-underrated area of southern Germany around Lake Constance. Our decision was taken at short notice, but within a few hours we had managed to book hotels along our route, and a week’s stay in what turned out to be a fantastic apartment overlooking the lake.
License: Creative Commons image source
And subsequently, this turned into a really memorable holiday, even though it had all been put together at the last minute.
A number of factors combined to make it so special: the varied yet never less than the excellent quality of the accommodation we stayed in on our way through Germany, the fabulous apartment we managed to find in which to spend our second week, and the beautifully unspoiled surroundings of Lake Constance itself.
Take in the scenery
But absolutely the best part was that we traveled along with some truly spectacular scenery – in particular, through the dramatic Rhine Valley – along some reasonably quiet roads. And that meant we could really appreciate some of Germany’s finest and most unspoiled areas close-up. It was quite obvious that the Germans themselves regarded the area as vital to their economy – the railway line which skirts the Rhine was busy with a regular flow of passenger and freight services, which were no doubt transporting goods to the main settlements along the banks of one of Europe’s most important rivers.
It’s not just about the destination, but the journey
All too often when people go on holiday, they see the journey purely as a means to an end. As someone who sampled coach and, particularly, rail travel around the UK and Europe from an early age, though, for me a holiday is about far more than simply getting to the destination. An interesting journey simply adds to the anticipation and makes time that would otherwise be spent idly reading, or even sleeping, feel much more fulfilling.
Many people fly to all their holiday destinations for the perfectly understandable reason that flying, in general, is considerably cheaper mile-for-mile than most other alternatives. Of course, it’s quicker too, but for me, and many others, holidays are much more complete if we also have the chance to get a sense of place on our travels, by seeing the surroundings close-up.
Don’t miss the country from the air
Everything, apart from the most obvious landmarks, looks so indistinct from 20,000 feet that you often never know where you are. When you’re traveling by road, though, you can mark the passage of your journey by the names of the places you pass through, and even have fun following your route on a map and with a guidebook.
Travelling by road also makes for a more individual experience. It can be quite easy for one airport terminal to look and feel much like any other, and you will miss out so much in-between when you take off and land again. On a coach or in a car, though, you will have seen lots of new places and sights even before you reach your destination. The trip is so much more a part of your actual holiday.
Another reason for ditching the plane – which might sound counter-intuitive – is that it can make travel just too easy. If all you want to do is be transported directly to your hotel and your beach, then that’s all well and good. But what happened to find your own way to where you want to go? Sat-nav systems will guide you these days, of course, but traveling over land will always be much more of an adventure – and in the long run far more memorable – than almost any plane journey.
Better for the Earth
Finally, whatever form of land travel you take, your journey is likely to be far less harmful to the environment than taking to the skies. Even traveling by car – provided you don’t overload it – produces fewer emissions, and of course, on a train or a coach, the emissions per passenger are a tiny fraction of those produced by other forms of transport.
So why not break a habit and look for ways of traveling abroad by land? One thing’s for sure – you’ll get far more memories out of your holiday if you do.
This guest blog was contributed by Stephen West a freelance blogger who often covers travel topics such as how best to enjoy the Sorrento holidays.