It is summer and holiday time in the northern hemisphere - excursions, trips and own projects will fill the days. In our series of "BraveNewBreak stories, our colleagues at ÅF Pöyry share their summer plans and tips on how to make summer more sustainable.
Ludvig Widestam, urban planner at ÅF in Malmö, Sweden
From now on, I will choose to travel by train whenever possible. I have flown my fair share, including to South America, Australia, Africa and Asia. When I travel in future, it will be by means that have less of a negative impact on the environment.
Ludvig works as an urban planner at ÅF, primarily focusing on the promotion of cycling – both in towns and cities and rural areas. “I primarily work on the early stages of planning and development projects; to reduce climate emissions, conduct strategic analyses, plan for increased cycling, improve accessibility and address public transport issues," he explains.
This summer, he and a couple of friends will be setting off to interrail through Russia, Ukraine and Georgia. The journey will take approximately four weeks, including their scheduled stops.
“Our first stop is St. Petersburg, Russia. We will then head for Moscow before continuing to the Caucasus region, where we will be hiking. We are expecting to have some incredible experiences. We have also scheduled a ferry crossing of the Black Sea and an excursion to the ghost town of Prypjat in Ukraine,” he explains.
This is not the first time that Ludvig has chosen to travel via the world’s railways; four years ago, he circumnavigated the globe, including taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Russia to China. After that trip, he received a good deal of attention in a Facebook group for rail travellers and presented his adventures at an inspirational meeting in Stockholm.
“Interrailing is all the rage and I have noticed that many people have been inspired by my travels. Many people who would previously have chosen to fly are now trying the train and are loving it,” he says.
That said, even if many people find the idea enticing, there are several parameters that can put a stop to their plans; for example, limited holidays and getting as much as possible out of the time they do get off. It is, however, a matter of changing one’s mindset:
“When you travel by train, the journey is the destination – it really is an experience in itself! You will see more places, meet new and interesting people and have the opportunity to simply jump off at any stop that grabs your interest. If you fly, you miss the entire experience and lose your grasp of just how big the planet actually is,” says Ludvig.
So, what are Ludvig’s tips for anyone looking to choose a more sustainable mode of transport during their holidays?
“That depends somewhat on how you want to travel. Naturally, it demands a little more planning when you choose the train. The easiest method is to buy an Interrail card. This will give you a given number of stops and can make your journey as spontaneous as you like. If you want to travel further, then the Trans-Siberian Railway is one option; there are many exciting stops to make along the way. You also have the somewhat more luxurious option of taking the Lev Tolstoy train from Helsinki to Moscow.