My summer get-to-England-without-a-plane plans are in ruins but…

A peculiarity of Norwegian law means that holidays are earnt in the year prior to their use. Meaning I have a week’s paid holiday this year. Well well. So the summer break won’t be as long as I thought.

That means I don’t necessarily have the time to sit on a cargo boat or train to England as I had originally planned to do. And due to a separate change of plans, I’m first going to see some family in Ireland before I head to England. Ireland isn’t quite so straightforward to get to, as it’s that little bit further away from Norway and on a different island. Plus the fact that there are no ferries going between Norway at the British Isles.

So this trip is going to be plane… 

But I did discuss in my last post about trying to minimise flying miles and in particular the unnecessary stopovers. Using a host of search engines showed the cheapest flight option was to take the Norwegian flight from Trondheim to Gdansk in Poland and thereafter a Ryanair flight to Dublin. This is hardly a direct route, so unless I had reason to be in Gdansk or at least some time to stopover and see things, this was not a logical choice. A similar journey with the same pair of airlines had a stopover in Copenhagen. But this worked out well as my girlfriend and I have a close friend living there who we were hoping to catch up with in the summer.

This image from distance calculator daftlogic shows the difference between flying via Gdansk or Copenhagen. Neither are very direct…

Whilst the difference in distance does not appear to be very much, it is in fact 633km for the one-way journey. Which could get me to Paris to Milan. Or from London to Frankfurt. So not insignificant really.

The most direct (pure flying) route is via Oslo at 1658km. This is 454km less than the Copenhagen route. Nearly the distance between Berlin and Warsaw. And of course you can further refine the flying distance by travelling with other modes in addition (eg: take the train to Oslo and then fly – 1266 air km, or take the train to Stavanger and fly to Aberdeen followed by train and ferry to Dublin – 503km).

But back to my summer travelling, the lovely thing about budget airlines (lets not get started about their strikes and their other policies) is that they typically work on a business model of pay-per-bum-on-seat. That means paying the same to book the Copenhagen leg and book another leg; there’s no disadvantage in splitting up your journey this way. Of course in my case they are separate airlines, so this is natural.

After Dublin, we could take a direct flight to London Stansted, being the nearest airport to where I need to be. But at least for this one, the idea is instead to take the ferry to Northern Wales, see some of Snowdonia and the historic sites of the region, whilst meandering towards the South East of England. This is by no means the grand rail + freighter journey I had imagined… but at least I’m cutting out a flight.

My graduation will be in the middle of July, and literally the day afterwards I need to be in Amsterdam for a course I’m taking there. Whilst this isn’t the best timing, it seems I’ve got a relatively comfortable journey proposed by the Man in Seat61 (he does do a good job at this non-flying travel stuff!).

Rome2Rio makes pretty pictures of the same journey, below.

The Rail and Sail option offered by Stena Line makes it very convenient for anyone travelling from the SE England to go to anywhere in the Netherlands. For £49! Plus the cost of a cabin for overnight sailings…

This way I might miss a little of the festivities following my graduation ceremony but I’m hoping that I’ll get to see my fellow classmates in the days before anyway. My other option was to take an Easyjet flight to Amsterdam, but at just 15 minutes flying time, this seems like a stupid option to take considering that there are so many less polluting options. Indeed the Rail and Sail journey I’m planning on taking contributes 80% less CO2 to the atmosphere. If I book this then that’ll be one more cut out flight in my summer travel plan.

I recognise that not everyone puts such a high value on NOT flying as I do. And some put an even higher value (though usually not for the same reasons). But this journey is so short that this is an easy win in terms of cutting back on air miles.

Net effect: Two less short haul flights. But still doing two medium haul flights over to Dublin. In the context of my previous post’s minimising short haul flights metric I have succeeded on one front at least.

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