6 Alternative Travel Ideas
Instead of taking your usual holiday this year, why not try one of these alternative travel ideas? Whether you’re looking for spontaneity, relaxation or reminiscence, you’re sure to have your imagination sparked by these starting points.
1. Take a one way flight somewhere, then find your way back home.
This one probably works best in Europe, where there are a multitude of starting points within a couple of hours flying time from the UK and plenty of public transport when you get to wherever you land. Get the train or a lift to the airport so you can return to anywhere in your country of origin at any time without worrying about car parking fees! A smartphone or tablet make it pretty easy to research as you go along or to book flights and accommodation. The beauty of this trip is the flexibility.
Get somewhere you like, stay there a while, and then when you’re fed up of travelling, get a flight home. Don’t plan too much in advance and you will have a delightful spontaneous trip. I started in Riga, Latvia with the intention of winding my way along the northern part of Europe towards France but only got as far as Lithuania. Then I flew Germany (cheaper than a bus journey from Vilnius to Warsaw—so Poland will have to wait for another trip!) and home from there via Copenhagen. The options for such a trip are numerous (Read Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson for ideas).
2. Return to somewhere you haven’t been for at least 10 years
See what you remember about the place; see what’s changed. Do the things you didn’t do last time you were there. I always used to think, why go back to somewhere you’ve already been when there are so many other places to visit, but return trips can be great. On most holidays, there isn’t time to do absolutely everything in a particular place, so it’s good to go back. It can also be an opportunity to take a second look at a place you might not have liked on your first visit.
I hated Berlin first time round in 2004. I took an overnight bus journey from Sweden and was exhausted on arrival. I was too hot, there was a very unfriendly landlady in the B and B, I became unwell, and everything was negative. I didn’t stay very long. However, when I went to watch the European Swimming Championships there in 2014, it felt like a totally different and wonderful place. The weather was cooler, I found a better hotel, I was more interested in the history I could find, there was a disused airport to cycle round and the sporting event was amazing.
3. Play transport system roulette
This works best in a big city with an underground network. Buy a day travel pass. Randomly select a station on a map by devising a system with dice or by sticking a pin in the map. Go there and see what you find. Repeat. Find places away from the tourist trail and quite possibly not in your guidebook. Just take care to stay safe! This ida is fantastic for somewhere like Paris or New York and ideal for a poor weather day when you don’t feel so bad about being on public transport for much of the time.
4. Travel like Jack Reacher
Take your passport, toothbrush and credit card. Buy what you need as you go along. Throw it away when you’re done with it. No bags or other possessions to worry about. Nothing to carry around or weigh you down. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have the freedom of no bag. As I waited by the baggage carousel at the Manchester airport in September for over 45 minutes, I remembered why luggage is such a pain, but I’m not sure I could leave home without any of my stuff! One day I will try this. Tt will be a major challenge but could be incredible fun—and it means that shopping is always on the agenda!
5. Go old school
Take an actual book with you. Leave it for someone else to read when you’re finished with it. Send postcards. Or maybe go old school/new school with an app like Touchnote and send postcards of your own photos. Relax and spend time doing not much at all—trips don’t have to be about finding things to do all the time (which I constantly have to tell myself).
Don’t post on Facebook while you’re away. (Insurance companies might invalidate your policy if you post that you’re on holiday and you get broken in to while you’re away.) Talk to people about your trip when you get back instead of using social media. Get your holiday snaps printed when you get home and put them in an actual physical album.
6. Travel for an event
Sports, music, convention, the opportunities are vast and could take you anywhere in the world. Sometimes events just take you by surprise while you’re away. I semi-stalked Jarvis Cocker through the streets of Istanbul once and ended up at a Pulp concert that I didn’t even know was happening. Carmina Burana was being performed on the seafront in Santa Cruz de Tenerife when I was there last Christmas. I’ve found myself in the middle of city centre cycling events in Prague and Copenhagen.
But some of my best trips have been to go to watch sports. I’ve already mentioned the swimming in Berlin, but I am a veteran of tennis tournaments, having been to the French Open in Paris many times, an ATP Masters event in Montreal and the US Open in New York. For me, all these trips have involved time doing tourist activities, plus days of watching top tennis, mainly in the sunshine. I find it gives my trips a proper focus and I enjoy myself a whole lot more!
6 Alternative Travel Ideas for 2016