Southern Europe rail tour, 16 days
Description of Southern Europe rail tour, 16 days
This Southern Europe rail tour takes you from London to Italy, Spain and France, exploring some of the continent’s best cities along the way, and travelling in a small group, along with an experienced tour leader. You’ll spend two to three nights in each destination, so there’s plenty of time to explore, whether you want to wander the museums, take in the nightlife or chill out on the beach. In every city there’ll be an essential activity included in the price, for example, watching the sunset from the best vantage point or visiting a famous museum. We’ll also make sure there’s time for group drinks at least once in every city.
Highlights of the tour include a gondola ride in Venice; checking out the Vatican City, the smallest country in the world; sunning yourself on the French Riviera in Nice – perhaps with a spot of snorkelling thrown in; getting acquainted with Barcelona’s artistic hot spots; and looking out over Paris from the Tour Montparnasse.
Throughout the tour you’ll be accompanied by an experienced guide, who will organise all your activities, ensure you get to each of your destinations safely and answer any questions you may have. The price includes all rail travel, accommodation in top notch hostels, public transport cards or tickets and essential sightseeing activities.
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PlanetTravelling by rail is the greenest way to go, and Europe’s network of trains are among the most extensive and environmentally friendly in the world. Making the same journey, trains provide a much lower-carbon alternative to flying, which makes this 2 week trip a lot better for the environment than jetting out for a beach holiday! We also encourage the use of public transport within each city that you visit within your travel pack, promoting ways of getting around that produce lower carbon emissions.
For this particular trip, you'll travel by train to and from London, so you won't have to fly at all. Rrail travel to and from your nearest UK station is also included.
In terms of minimising our carbon footprint and waste production, we will never send out printed communications like brochures or newsletters; we provide these digitally on the website, and are more than happy to email you a copy if you like. In the same way, all quotes and trip information (with the exception of your travel pack) are sent by email. With this in mind, please take care to consider the environment before printing any copies of our communications!
Our travel packs are printed on recycled paper and in turn, are 100% recyclable themselves. We also only use Xerox Solid Ink to print our materials, which generates up to 90% less printing waste than more commonly-used laser printers! To minimise waste production, we send one travel pack per group of 1-3 or 4 people, which is plenty to go around! We can also send you multiple copies of your travel pack digitally if you prefer, so do let us know if you'd like this option.
When you are travelling, we encourage you not to use bottled water – there really is no need! Every hostel and hotel we use has drinking tap water so why not pour yourself a bottle and leave it in the fridge overnight ready for the next day? In our office, water bottles are banned so we only use tap water too.
Our partner hostel in Interlaken employs a state of the art energy recycling technology to minimise their energy usage. The heat from wasted hot water is used to heat fresh water (while ensuring that there is no contamination between dirty and fresh water). Their building is insulated to the highest standards, ensuring comfortable temperatures for guests without costing the earth.
Our rail suppliers place the environment at the top of their priorities. In addition to being the most eco-friendly way to travel as it is, almost all rail companies within Europe have electrified their lines, reducing the need for diesel powered trains, which contribute towards significant air pollution issues. The Netherlands’ railway operator has even managed to power their entire rail network using renewable energy, with Deutsche Bahn not far behind.
PeopleFirst and foremost, we are highly aware of the potential impact of mass tourism on local communities, which is why we always aim to encourage sustainable travel, whilst promoting travel as a means of building cultural understanding. We do not oversell destinations which suffer from too much tourism. We have a certain number of hostel beds available and once these spaces are filled we stop offering the destination to ensure that we don't contribute to the issue of over tourism. This benefits both our customers and the suppliers we work with. Customers trust us to offer them an honest service and suppliers trust us to give them a reliable but responsible level of business.
For example, we have made the choice for this trip to select accommodation outside the centre of Venice. The city suffers from an extremely high level of tourism (particularly from cruise ships and coach tours), which has a hugely damaging effect on the fragile and unusual local environment. By staying outside of the centre, we can reduce our contribution to the pressures that the city faces, while still giving business to local people and enjoying the beautiful city.
We always endeavour to provide ‘less touristy’, locally owned destinations and suggestions for sightseeing in each city that you'll visit. We have taken the time out to meet with and forge strong personal relationships with our partner hostels and hotels on this trip, in order to benefit both you as a customer, as well as local businesses. Through them we recommend locally based tours, excursions and activities which provide income to local businesses. We encourage travellers to sample the local cuisine, stay away from global chains and speak to locals for the best recommendations. These are listed in your personalised travel pack you receive. As a result, not only will you get a more authentic travel experience, but you'll also have the power to support locally-run businesses and truly get to know local people.
We particularly encourage solo explorers and small groups of independent travellers to try our trips, ensuring that their cultural experience isn't marred by the dynamics that larger organised group tours can lend themselves to. This also helps to discourage waves of mass tourism in increasingly popular travel destinations.
Lastly, we also encourage our customers to travel with an open, respectful attitude towards other travellers and local residents. We provide basic language essentials in each of our travel packs to help foster cultural immersion, and encourage getting off the beaten track to gain a truly authentic experience of each city that you visit.
Back at the office, staff are encouraged to pursue charity projects and volunteering which contribute to the local community. We are very happy to offer flexible hours to accommodate these projects. In the past year three of our staff have undertaken and continue to undertake regular volunteering, including teaching English to refugees living in Leeds, providing mental health coaching and support in to girls in a local primary school and helping with rehabilitation projects in a local prison. In addition, staff are encouraged to participate in charity fundraising. In 2017 a team of staff members took part in Race for Life to raise money for Breast Cancer UK.
We employ a range of people living in the Leeds and West Yorkshire region. All employees are paid above the living wage, and we are also happy to offer Work Experience opportunities to local students. Employees benefit from flexible working hours, with an hour for lunch every day and two additional hours a week to undertake exercise or sport. Training opportunities are provided regularly, and staff are regularly consulted on their progress and ambitions for personal and professional development through twice yearly appraisals.
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