Slow travel: The ‘unusual’ way to cross Europe with no flights – ‘make the most of travel’

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Cat started Byway in 2020 to help travellers plan slow routes as her company takes care of all the “complicated” holiday logistics. Slow travel involves travelling by buses, bikes, trains and ferries and gives tourists the chance to sit back and enjoy the “richness of the experience”.

Cat told “I’ve never owned a car, so I’ve always travelled by train and boat and bike and all of that good stuff.

“But, I think it was only in the last couple of years that I was getting a sense that the market was aligning with me more, I’d been very unusual for most of my life in that regard.

“There’s a rising tide of local awareness after lockdown, people slowing down and taking their time and enjoying the experience of travel or food.

“Slow travel trips feel gorgeous and romantic and the idea is so seductive but the act of trying to put a trip together can be a nightmare.”

Byway plans all the logistics for travellers so they can enjoy themselves without any of the planning.

All Byway’s trips are 100 percent flight free. Cat said: “We want to make the most of travelling through rather than flying over the top.

“With our holidays, it’s like the beads of a necklace, you string them together to make a whole trip.”

On Byway’s website, travellers can explore slow travel trip options by selecting photos that appeal to them on the ‘holiday creator’. Their trip is then designed exactly to their wants.

Photos range from gourmet dining to relaxing in front of a fire or adventurous activities like kayaking.

Slow travel expert, Cat shared her favourite ‘slow’ route in the UK. She said: “My favourite route is one of the first ones that we actually ever did and it’s in the Isle of Purbeck, Jurassic coast area in Dorset.

“It’s my favourite place in the world, we do it as a family, you can do it on bikes or you can do it on buses and trains and ferries.

“There’s a gorgeous bus, Bus number 50, and it’s open top and it goes all the way over and onto the chain ferry that goes across Poole Harbour.

“Then once you’re over Poole Harbour, you’re on the whole Studland Bay peninsula with stunning sandy beaches and little ice cream shops and watersports.”

Outside of the UK, Cat recommends taking the train to Paris and then journeying down to the Mediterranean at Marseille and Corsica on a “slow” trip.

One of slow travel’s selling points is the chance to take your pets along which can be near impossible or very expensive to arrange on a plane. Dogs also aren’t allowed on the Eurostar unless they are service animals.

Cat told “A lot of the trips we’ve been running have been people who are bringing their dogs along. So now we have a ferry option.

“And on the ferries, you can get your dog cabin and be tucked away with the dogs and that’s all lovely. It’s a really joyful thing for people to be able to take their pets along.”

While slow travel can be more expensive than flying, Byway knows the best deals and money savers for tourists.

Cat said: “We have a lot of local knowledge so we can offer tricks and tips to get the price down.

“In the UK, we’ve had people booking trips where there are two of them and we’ve been able to find them a railcard to cover a whole year of travel and save them £150.”

Byway is expanding its trip network and is hoping to start more trips in Germany and Switzerland soon.

Cat added: “Spain is next on our list, we really want to start doing more there.” for the holiday creator.

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