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Discover more on a car-free holiday

Northumberland: photo by Good Journey

Nat Taplin, Director of Good Journey, has written this guest blog for us on the pleasures of a car-free holiday.

A car-free holiday begins as soon as you step out of your door. The journey is all part of the adventure. You get a real sense of travelling, as the landscapes and accents change along the way. And once you arrive, the limitations of bus routes and how far you can walk or cycle help you to slow down and really get under the skin of a place. Freed from the temptation to rush on, seeking the illusive perfect village or beach, or jump back in the car at the first spot of rain. With time on your hands until the next bus leaves, you explore beyond the main drag, and are rewarded with hidden gems – a backstreet café, a gallery, veg from a garden gate, a gig poster on a telegraph pole. 

Nat TaplinThese are just a few of the reasons why I love a car-free holiday. In a couple of days, I'll be heading from the South West of England to the Highlands of Scotland. Google reckons I can do it three hours quicker by car (not including service station stops and traffic jams), but for me, settling back for a front-row seat as the landscape rolls by is the perfect way to unwind into a holiday. 

What's more, going car-free brings you closer to 'leaving only footprints'. You won't be cluttering up the local lanes and views. By arriving with a few snacks in a backpack, rather than a supermarket boot-full, you'll be supporting local shop and cafes. And, of course, you'll be helping to keep local buses rolling, while picking up some holiday tips from the locals on board.

Bikes on boatLeisure travel makes up a huge slice of the UK's carbon cake. Changing how you travel is the biggest single way to reduce the impact of your holiday. And, with the rising cost of fuel and rising faff of flying, more people are choosing to holiday closer to home. According to Visit Britain, 39% more people say they are likely to choose a staycation than before Covid.

Of course, trains and buses can be expensive too, but with the help of railcards, advance tickets and a bit of research it can be cheaper than driving (I've bagged London to Glasgow, with my bike, for £23). Here are a few top tips for car-free bargains this summer:

  • Hop on the train to the seaside and add PlusBus to your train ticket – ride the open-topper from Weymouth to Portland for just £2.40, or head out from Swansea to the Gower for just £3.
  • Ride all day on any bus in Cornwall for just £5 Adult or £10 for the whole family - enjoying the views over the hedges and avoiding the car park queues.
  • There are some great value rail rover tickets, like Explore Cambrian Coast £13.50 (£8.90 railcard), or Cotswolds Discoverer £10.50 (£6.90 railcard)
  • Head to the Lakes for combined bus and boat tickets, or take your pick of bracing open-top bus adventures in the South West

Bus travels along the coastFor more inspiration for car-free days out and holidays check out goodjourney.org.uk. We've got some brand-new holiday guides – with ideas for the best places to base yourself a car-free break. First up are Northumberland, The Lake District, Norfolk and Cornwall. To be first in line for more car-free adventures, sign up for our quarterly newsletter and you'll get a free e-book of Scenic Rail and Bus Journeys too.

Photos:
Bus on the Isle of Wight: photo by Go South Coast
Bikes on Lake District boat: photo by Go Lakes
Seaton Sluice, Northumberland: photo by Good Journey

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