Flight-Free Travel: In Conversation with Byway Founder Cat Jones

We caught up with flight-free-travel company Byway founder Cat Jones to talk about all things slower travel, from packing essentials to how to encourage friends to live more sustainably. Plus, Jones gives us her inside scoop on where to eat, drink and play when in Tarragona, Spain.

the world while also trying to lead a sustainable
lifestyle can often feel like one massive contradiction. You want
to be the person that explores a destination through a locals lens,
tasting your way through the flavours and family-run boutiques of
local communities, but it’s often difficult to shake off the guilt
from having just hopped off a jet that floods our air with toxic

We’re not about to suggest you start walking, swimming or
skipping across oceans and borders to get to where you need to be,
but there are plenty of healthier, small habits we can all make in
order to protect our planet. Daydreaming about train, bike and ferry journeys, we thought we’d
call in a professional to get the inside scoop on how we can join
the slow-travel community. Enter, Cat Jones, the
founder of the world’s first flight-free-travel platform, Byway – a space
that designs bespoke trips for savvy travellers looking to put
enjoyment above speed.

Jones chats to us about must-have flight-free essentials, how to
enter the slower travel world and her must-see recommendations for
those planning a long weekend in the Spanish port city of

Slow-motion travel and Tarragona flair: Cat Jones’s mission to
spark a conversation on sustainability

Tell us about Byway; what sets you apart from other slow-travel

Byway is the world’s first platform to offer flight-free
holidays. Offering joyful journeys by train and boat, our own
dynamic technology powers adventures that prioritise enjoyment over
speed. Personalising routes based upon travellers’ interests,
availability and requirements, we create multi-stop, multi-modal
unique holidays. Forget the hassle of sorting tickets and
accommodation; we sort it for you. Oh, and the activities and
nearby eateries? We’re reachable through Whatsapp 24/7 to give you
our inside advice.

We want to join the slow-travel community but don’t know where
to start… What do you suggest?

Focus on making your first slow-travel journey a relaxing
escape; that way you’ll be more likely to enjoy it. It’s easy to
feel like you don’t have time to slow down, but you have to see the
travel element as part of the holiday itself, then any issues will

As a society, we contribute to climate change, so, as an
eco-conscious traveller, you should choose a flight-free getaway
that best suits you. That way, you’ll be more likely to both repeat
and recommend your travels to friends. These steps are how we shift
the focus from one-off individual actions to a collective,
sustained cultural shift.

What should be on our checklist when planning a flight-free

Make sure you’re planning for enjoyment, not martyrdom. Take
sensible steps to make your trip environmentally friendly, but also
make sure you’re planning a trip you’ll love. I’d suggest taking
advantage of flexible hop-on, hop-off transport tickets, so that if
you pass a beautiful beach or delicious ice-cream shop, you can
jump off. It’s also worth looking into season/month/week passes,
and considering Interrail if you’re travelling in Europe, to help
keep costs manageable.

Research the areas you’re travelling to in order to avoid places
already suffering from overtourism and make sure you’re adhering to
local responsible tourism practices like “leave no trace”. Seek out
family-run, sustainable, eco-friendly accommodations. As well as
being the ethical choice, they often offer the best, most holistic
experiences. My personal tip? Grab a copy of Europe by Rail by
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. Their knowledge is unmatched when
it comes to slow-travel insights.

Any essentials we should think about packing?

Packing thin, light layers makes for easier and more comfortable
transport connections. Consider packing items that will reduce your
use of single-use plastics on your trip: a reusable water bottle,
portable cutlery set, tote shopping bag, eco-friendly

How can we encourage our friends to travel flight-free?

Share itineraries and tips. I’ve been slow travelling the
majority of my life and when I share photos, my friends always ask
for itineraries. We have a referral programme to give friends a
discount off their first Byway trip, and we also plant
a tree for you with our rewilding partner, Mossy Earth.

What’s next for Byway?

Our mission is to make slow travel mainstream. We’ve recently
been certified as a B Corp organisation and have launched 100 per
cent vegan flight-free holidays. Later this year, we’ll be
incorporating new rail routes and sleeper routes into our

Tarragona Spain

An Insider Guide to Tarragona, Spain, with Byway Founder Cat

Where should we stay?

I love ​​Hostal 977. Just a stone’s throw from the beachfront,
the minimal yet stylish interiors promise a quiet stay on a central
street. Bedrooms are cosy and comfortable, with exposed brickwork,
wooden beams and sleek bathrooms.

Where should we head for dinner?

is known for its top-notch tapas. For a vegan menu and a
laid-back setting, swing by El Vergel – the desserts are set to make every
day look like a cheat day.

And for a drink…

Locals flood Plaça de la Font most weekends, watching the
burning sun plummet, a cold spirit to hand. I’m a fan of a quirky
cocktail at the Red Lab, on Rambla Nova. It’s no secret that the
region of Tarragona is famous for vermouth, so think about heading
out of the city toward Reus, where you’ll find the Museum of
Vermouth and the flagship Vermuts Rofes bar – a brand that’s sold
throughout Spain.

Tarragona, Spain Bar
Tarragona Spain Beach

Tell us a secret spot only locals know about…

An hour’s drive down the coast of Tarragona, the wetlands of the
Ebro Delta are a haven for wildlife. I love to hire a bike and
cycle around the coastal lagoons, rice paddies and dramatic dune
landscapes, which offer a sense of off-grid wilderness.

Where should we go in Tarragona to feel inspired?

If you love being close to the water and look to nature for
inspiration, you should make a beeline for the sands of Tarragona’s
Platja Llarga Beach. Backed by pine forests and the mountain peaks
of the Bosque de la Marquesa National Park, it’s my favourite place
for basking my afternoon away.

One thing we shouldn’t miss while we’re there?

Tarragona is an ancient Roman town, so you should carve out time
to cross the medieval Pont del Diable. The “Devil’s Bridge” was
once used to supply the city with water from the Francolí River.
History buffs shouldn’t miss the Roman amphitheatre, overlooking
the Mediterranean Sea. The landmark was once used for gladiator
fighting and was witness to some pretty gruesome public

Elise Wortley

Discover More
Into the Valley of the Assassins with Explorer Elise Wortley