You have so many options at your disposal. Which ones are right for you?
Transportation is a big “budget consumer” when traveling abroad. Travelers have to consider the overall travel experience when deciding how to get around. The best standards can be both budget and pocket-friendly while delivering practical and quality experiences when abroad. Quality preparation and ample research on the different means of transport available at your destination can help balance both your money and time.
Convenient and effective means of transport will let you visit all of the best spots in the country. Some have great social amenities, which might even get you talking to others and getting advice on how to spend time while travelling. You can chat with your friends, enjoy the scenery or try your luck in getting a True Blue casino no deposit bonus. However, one should also consider the speed, price, convenience, comfort and any other personal preferences while picking out appropriate means of transport. Overall, here are some of the best means of travel when you are abroad.
Rent a Vehicle (Car)
Taxi or Ride-sharing Apps
Boats or Ferries
Planes are often comfortable, efficient, quick and effective means of getting from one point to another, especially if moving from one country or city to another. A 12-hour bus ride can take a mere hour on a plane. Plus, planes are sticklers for timelines and set schedules, ensuring better timing both for arrivals and departures.
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Prices for a flight depend on the distance that you are traveling. Budget travelers, for instance, should travel to well-known airports for a budget vacation if going to Europe. You can book your travel ticket before your travel date for convenience. However, many foreign sites’ navigation and booking sections are in foreign languages, which can present a major challenge. However, most have phone lines added to the contact lists. Making the call can save you major costs!
If you book a long-distance flight, you’ll have several layovers. Some layovers can last for two hours, giving you a chance to explore the transit country. Some can last for days or weeks, depending on your schedule. In these situations, try to experience local activities such as traditional dances or music. Don’t be afraid to find a movie theater around the San Francisco Airport or a museum for culture, art or history.
Trains are not only convenient for use any time of day or night but they are also fast. Travelers who prefer to view the country’s landscapes, including deserts, the rainforests or large expanses of snow while traveling, should pick trains as their means of transport. For instance, if India, South Africa or Japan is one of your significant stops, consider travelling via train for expansive scenic train rides. Plus, trains don’t typically have traffic lines, or delayed departure or arrivals. Stops are well-known to the passengers, and one can choose where to sit and how much to pay depending on one’s preferences.
Another benefit of using trains when abroad is space. Passengers have enough leg room, can stand and stretch or move around, and relax while on the route. Some have food stands; free WiFi, offering a chance to play free pokies online with minimal disturbances along with a seamless connection; and a screen for watching a movie or two for night travels. However, the better and more comfortable the amenities provided on your travel train, the higher the prices will be.
Rent a Vehicle (Car)
Renting a car for your travel needs when in a foreign country is not only smart, but also freeing. First, you don’t need to keep up with anyone’s schedule or itinerary. Second, you can stop anywhere to sightsee, traverse complex pathways to reach hidden tourist spots, and arrive at your destination earlier than planned. Lastly, the traveler can exercise a care-free attitude with a rental car and prepare second travel or destination plans to suit your current needs!
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Renting a car will require an international permit or driver’s license. Understanding the laws governing driving in your current country of destination can save you a lot of headaches and money. In other cases, you may desire an automatic vehicle for transportation and end up with a manual car. Always be prepared if you plan on renting. It might be the best option compared to other transport means when abroad, but without the right documentation, you may incur the extra cost of hiring a driver.
Taxi or Ride-Sharing Apps
Convenience can be had through personalized modes of transport such as taxis or ride-sharing apps. Any traveler can get a taxi or a ride through ride-sharing apps in most any country today. Most taxi operators have online, operational platforms for bookings you can use upon arrival, such as Uber. However, some are country-specific and require prior scheduling to avoid delays — for instance, if you have to ask for one 10 minutes before departure time! Download the essential ride sharing app for your destination country before travel to familiarize yourself with the navigation system. Also, review the app for safety purposes and quality service assurance.
Taxis and tuktuks in some countries share similar prices that are predetermined and known to all. However, some offer prices depending on the meter, which are often inflated. Therefore, consider the taxi offer and do your research before committing to a contract with any taxi driver when abroad. For instance, taking a taxi from Athens to Ohrid is the biggest mistake ever committed in the history of taxis and taxi riding apps.
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Boats or Ferries
For individuals traveling to countries such as Thailand, a boat or a ferry ride is the best means of reaching crucial sights and destinations. Some of the best views of a country are accessible to travelers on a boat ride. Slow boats in a short travel distance can offer exhilarating stories for first-timers in Asia traveling to Battambang from Siem Reap. It might be frugal to some but it also provides the best local travel means. If not, get a ferry to take you across the border to any selected country with water access, for instance, Italy to Albania. Plus, you can witness the narrowness of some of the rivers while on the route, have the branches whipping and dancing on your shoulders or leaves covering your hair with moisture! If you desire to stay away from bugs that will have you jumping in fright, consider the classy and luxurious cruises to get the best modern travel experience.
There are many available forms of travel when abroad. However, one should consider the general timeline for your vacation, and if it is short and urgent, flights are the best means of movement. But, if you have more time to spend at your destination, other great transport means include trains, renting a vehicle or using a row or slow boat. And if looking for local adventure and fun while remaining cost-efficient, slow boats, rental cars or trains deliver the best results!
Are you traveling and not sure what the best travel transport is? Well, by the end of this post, you’ll have a great understanding of the best ways to explore a new country.
One thing that will often change from one continent to another, even at times between neighboring countries, is the preferred method of transit. The effectiveness in which a country can be traversed leaves more time for the good stuff – exploring/sightseeing/whatever travel means to you really! Many European countries offer different ways to travel, both internationally and domestic.
While some more developing nations, for example, throughout Asia or Eastern Europe, may only have a single method of transportation. Deciding when and how to travel through a country is a constant balancing act while on the road.
While experiences will differ from one traveler to the next, there are so many tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that can be applied universally. Having caught many flights, overnight buses/trains/ferries and a few other modes of transport, I’ll try to keep my list of pros and cons of each short!
What are the best travel transport types?
Day trip buses and trains
These are short buses and trains. Catching the local metro or a 15 minute bus? It will fall into this category.
Overnight buses and trains
Spending the night on a bus or train? Overnight transport is common in many parts of the world.
Short distance flying
Short distance flights are usually domestic but can be international when crossing borders of countries close to one another.
Long distance flying
Flying multiple hours on end, sometimes over 10 hours falls into the category of long-distance flights.
Car share riding
Many places around the world offer car sharing, where you book a ride with someone that is already making the trip and help with the cost.
Taxi style transportation comes in plenty of different ways where you’re traveling. Uber and Lyft are the modern styles of catching a cab.
Hire a vehicle
Hiring a vehicle gives you plenty of freedom while exploring a new country. It’s one of the best ways to explore the lesser visited sites.
Take an overnight tour
Overnight tours commonly take passengers from one destination to the next. While this option is a bit out there, when it works out, its great.
This option is limited. You can only walk so far, but if you’ve got a short distance to cover, you’ll often find unforgettable gems you otherwise would have missed.
Public transportation, in its many different forms, is easily my most commonly used mode of transit while traveling. In fact, rarely a day passes when I haven’t used at least one of the modes below. They are kind of necessary.
Different methods of transportation
Short-distance public transportation I’d class as around 2-3 hours before you reach your destination. Short distance transit is pretty much involved in every day of travel. I’ve taken some form of short distance bus, train or ferry (or a combination of all three) in every country I have visited.
Buses are usually the most cramped style of travel – especially for those of us over 6 feet tall (like myself). They can even be filled with animals. I’ve ridden very local buses with farmers and their chickens in Mexico, whirlwinds of dust buses in Kathmandu, Nepal, and a goose in a hessian bag tied to the back of a minibus in Laos – who somehow was able to nap on the bumpy roads might I add!
They can be unsanitary at times and slightly intimidating for sure, but I’m not sure I have a better source of travel stories than from local buses! It’s about the journey, right? Also, the price tag is often incredibly cheap, and usually reflects the comfort level of this form of transit. I’ve found that rest stops are usually 2-3 hours apart for long-distance routes.
Some bus routes are so windy they make even local travelers succumb to motion sickness. For example, the road from Chiang Mai to Pai in northern Thailand has exactly 762 curves!
Some roads have potholes are big enough to swallow your entire minibus whole, Laos, now that’s a bumpy ride! Along with the windy roads – it made for some uncomfortable drives.
But again, it’s about the stories…right?!
However, on the other end of the bus spectrum, it’s not all dust-filled cabins with animal noises. Japan’s buses were always impeccable. No dust, no dirt, no clucking, ever! There is quite a higher price tag for that level of comfort though.
As stated above, not all buses are equal. Even the same route may have different tiers of bus options, offering more comfort and facilities for a higher fee “VIP” status buses/min-vans are usually equipped with better seating arrangements and reclining seats. A functioning bathroom and a fully reclinable bed can be found on some buses. Inquiring about the facilities you need while booking tickets is a great way to avoid uncomfortable rides and nasty surprises. No facilities can suck, especially if you’re feeling sick.
The method of booking buses, in fact all transport, will differ from place to place. While Europe/UK is served by large companies such as Eurolines and Megabus respectively – booking online is easy. However, booking online for Asia can be a nightmare, if not utterly impossible, due to language barriers.
For this reason, heading into a station is highly recommended to book your ticket. Don’t forget to inquire about facilities and double-check your departure time, date and pick up location– as well as how early you will need to be there to check-in.
Trains are one of my favorite modes of travel, especially for long distances. Legroom isn’t so much of a concern when you can walk around. Being able to get up and walk around makes long transit times much easier to deal with.
Some countries allow locals to sell things when the train is in motion/stopped at a station. Mostly food and drinks, but I have also seen some trinkets along the way. From fruit to hot meals and water to beer – if you’re lucky! This was throughout a lot of Asia; Thailand and Myanmar to be specific.
Asia, once again, holds some of the most affordable train journeys I’ve ever been on. As these carriages are often packed with locals and tourists alike, the chance to engage with colorful people is ripe and makes the trip more enjoyable. Some of my most memorable conversations have been on parallel rails as the world whipped by.
Cheap transportation, as usual, can have its downsides. Aircon in Myanmar’s train carriages didn’t seem to be a thing and in Thailand, the lowest tier of train class was dusty and humid. Luckily, my clothes are rarely without some sort of dirt on them, so it never bothers me too much!
On the other side of the coin, European trains can be incredibly expensive, but classy. Italian and Switzerland train legs have burnt a hole in my pocket, and quickly! Everything was incredibly clean and organized. From Venice, Italy, to Interlaken, Switzerland, was by far the most expensive train trip I have ever taken- it wasn’t even overnight!
Some countries, such as Italy, come to mind when a ticket and seating reservation is required and rack up two separate fees – and it can be quite pricey for each! I have talked to quite a few people who, unfortunately, even though they had a ticket, didn’t have a seating reservation, and were forced to stand for the entirety of their journey.
The EuRail Pass is widely renowned as amazing value, assuming it suits your travel itinerary and route. It can be an expensive initial cost to traveling Europe, but planning your route to fit in with the pass will save you money.
Ferries are another great way of traveling that offer more legroom whenever you feel the need to have a walk around. For obvious reasons, this mode of transport is only available in certain areas of the world. Thailand’s southern islands are a perfect example of where this form of transport is not only preferred, but also necessary.
Ferries are common when island hopping throughout many islands in the world, and are usually more cost-effective than flying.
Depending on the weather and your location, this option can easily become a sightseeing tour. For example, the ferry to Phi Phi Island is stunning. Limestone karsts are truly a beautiful sight! There is no other way to access this gem than by water, and I wasn’t complaining, that’s for sure!
If you’re prone to sea-sickness, tablets that prevent nausea are a great investment. Most local pharmacies understand the term “sea-sickness” without having to act anything out. Using the Thailand example again, I bought little yellow tablets, and they worked a treat! I even used them successfully on a winding bus trip from Chiang Rai to Pai in the northern mountains.
Other water transportation ranges from speed boats to long-tail slow boats that allow you to take in the scenery for much longer. In Asia, the “slow-boat” style of transportation is very common for shorter trips, think of them as water-taxis – and they are never short of producing stories. I was a passenger on one that even began to sink! The four hours, hard wood-seated long-tail boat to Muang Ngoy gives plenty of scenery to admire.
Myanmar also gets a mention for its slow ferry-style boat that carved its way through overgrown reeds from Siem Reap to Battambang. The rivers and lakes became so narrow, all passengers were on guard for the potential threat of tree branches whipping your shoulders and flinging all types of bugs onto you!
Most boats in Asia are easily booked by visiting one of the many ticketing agencies offering the service of booking. From my frugal style of traveling, I learned shopping around for the best price is usually pointless, as they’re all quite similar in cost. As with other modes of transport, Europe has much more easily navigated and well-translated sites to book online.
Ferries are also an option when crossing country borders – like Albania to Italy. These are much less common than catching a flight, train or bus to a new country.
Depending on where you’re visiting, taxis could be called a number of different things. They could also look very different.
Tuku-tuk’s are common in Thailand, they are 3-wheels usually. Songthaews are found in Laos and Thailand and picks up people along the until it is full.
Taxis are most common for very short distances, but occasionally, hiring a taxi for a whole day can have its advantages. Marble Mountains in Vietnam was one such suggestion to hire a full day taxi.
During a recent visit to Myanmar, I visited the volcanic mountain temple of Mount Popa. For this instance, hiring a taxi was pretty much the only option to get there and back.
These full-day taxis are booked at a flat rate, so you can take your time and not worry about the meter ticking away.
Almost always, hailing a metered cab is suggested, except for the rare occasion where a flat fee can be arranged, usually for a long-distance and/or able to store baggage while you visit an attraction.
There are exceptions to this. Collectivo taxis in Cuba are not metered. The price is pre-determined for the specific routes and you usually book them through your casa particulares in Cuba (or hotels).
One suggestion, if baggage storage is your goal, do not leave any valuables (such as passport, wallet, cards, etc.) in your taxi-stored bag. You know, just in case the temptation is too great for your driver.
While many drivers will offer a “good price” in exchange for a meter, this price tag will almost definitely greatly inflated. If there is no meter available, and sometimes there’s not, always negotiate a price before accepting the offer.
On a rare occasion, a taxi may be your only option. After the language barrier bested me en route from Greece to Montenegro, and I waited on the side of an Albanian road, my partner and I had little option to catch an unmarked “taxi” across the Eastern European border into the lovely town of Ohrid of Macedonia. Athens in Greece to Ohrid in Macedonia has to be one of my biggest mistakes in catching transport when traveling.
I guess funny stories (I can laugh about it all these years later) come from unexpected sources!
Overnight transit gets its own section, as each mode of transport has a variety of other factors to weigh up. Some of them might sway your decision to choose one form of travel over another.
Every mode of transit mentioned below has more than one overnight option I’ve encountered around the globe. Combined with all the above-mentioned pros and cons, they bring their own to the table.
Personally, I love overnight transport. Not only do you usually save over half a day in travel – as you would’ve spent that night asleep anyway. Your seat (hopefully bed) doubles as accommodation, cutting the cost of travel.
I suggest overnight travel as a viable option quite subjectively if it is worth it from person to person, especially on buses. If you’re a light sleeper or quite tall, and you require a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to function – they may not be for you.
Noise throughout the journey is common – Thailand’s trains rattle constantly and the carriage lights don’t turn off the entire trip.
The windy bus ride to SaPa in northern Vietnam was difficult to drift off as you’re constantly moving from side to side.
Just like before, overnight transports are not all equal. Trains and ferries once again provide more room to move around, while buses are usually reclinable seats and are usually the cheapest option. Sometimes a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is just impossible, but there are a few tips I’d like to share from my personal experiences that make night travel more bearable.
A circle bandana/scarf type headband is what I use to block out most of the light. I find them much better than regular face masks as it conforms to my face much securely, so it blocks out most of the light. It also prevents me from knocking my headphones out during the middle of the night so the noise isn’t as much of an issue.
As mentioned above, I prefer headphones to earplugs. Soft music acts as white noise to me. Because it is constant (at least much less sudden than a train carriage sudden bump) I sleep much better than earplugs as a lot of noise gets through to my ears still. Make sure to set an alarm with a distinctive alert when your transport should nearing its destination. I’ve lost my phone on a night bus in Kosovo when I was too deep in a sleepy daze to remember to pick my phone up off the seat!
For a long transit or one I expect to be particularly bumpy/noisy, I usually opt for some form of sleeping tablet to keep me in a deeper sleep for longer. Coupled with melatonin, this provides me with my best chance of sleeping on the rocky/loud nights!
Taking more than enough snacks/water is a tradition for me. Too many times have I been asleep for a long-awaited pit stop and gone hungry and thirsty. I usually try and buy something for breakfast so I can navigate a new destination, not on an empty stomach.
I can’t say it’s always a great sleep, that’s for sure, but by using these tips I usually hit around five hours of decent sleep.
Often the worst of all overnight transports, especially for those of us over 180cm (6 foot). Being this tall means you’re most likely going to be a little cramped. Most overnight buses are regular coaches that have at least reclinable seats. However, reclining horizontally further than 45 degrees is usually not possible. Thailand does have buses fitted with bunk beds, but while I was traveling, there were crashes due to speed and/or drowsy drivers. I steered clear of Thailand’s overnight buses in favor of trains. I have caught enough overnight buses to be confident in them as a common form of transport.
Two of my favorite overnight buses have been in Asia. A mattress on the floor on a double-decker bus in Laos was long enough for me to stretch out. Which is very unusual for me! Another unique moment was the bus illuminated like a giant rolling disco ball! Luckily the lights were switched off for sleeping time.
Second place for me was overnight buses in Japan. While the seats only reclined the usual 45 degrees, a dome-shaped cover was able to pull out and around your face, blocking out so much sensitive light! A second reason was by sitting in the middle aisle gave so much legroom. As the bus is set up three seats in a row, each seat is situated by itself, giving the middle seat room on either side.
My partner whole-heartedly disagrees with the Japanese buses being great, but I’m standing firm! If you’re looking into bus travel in Japan, a ticket is able to be booked in advance and gives a great discount aboard the Willer Bus Company.
Buses can be extremely windy, thus difficult to even fall asleep on, let alone stay asleep. SaPa, while amazing, proved to be one of the most difficult night buses I’ve been on. Constant corners ensured my legs were scrunched up into a ball at the slopped base of my bed. I woke up from somehow sleeping a few hours, completely stiff from sleeping like a pretzel!
Speeding can also be a major problem for buses, especially in Asia as it is quite common. Not only for safety, but it also makes it much harder to sleep when it feels like the bus is mid-drifting.
A warning here –especially for Asian countries. Book early to and ensure you have a seat – ask specifically you have a seat. I heard quite a few stories of Asian overnight buses being overbooked and having to sleep in the aisle.
A good friend I met on the road definitely had the worst of these stories. He declined to sleep both in the aisle, or basically on op of three strangers. He was given space in the luggage compartment. Not only was he enclosed in by bags, but he was also situated right above the engine, so it was incredibly hot with no airflow. With the heat and noise it’s safe to say he got very little sleep.
Once again I prefer trains over buses for night travel. Going for a late-night stroll as the carriages are silent except for the chatter along the rails is an eerily cool feeling. Most Asian trains will have locals periodically come through the carriages announcing what they have for sale, in usually loud voices. The local language usually fails me and I go buy visuals. Thailand and China both served hot meals of rice, veggies and some form of meat, while a rural station near Bagan in Myanmar offered the most delicious mangos I have ever eaten – passed to me through the train window.
However, as usual, there are quite a few country-specific drawbacks. Even though they might not apply directly to your journey, being ready for as much as you can be is the key to traveling well.
My first mention of China is a personal one, but anyone who appears different than Chinese, or even Asian will most likely notice this in some form – especially those of us with beards and/or tattoos.
It was common for me to notice people starring at me, even taking pictures both slyly and upfront. Lots of Chinese people have less than attractive photos of me – as I liked to pull faces at those who try to take candid photos. I even had a baby, that wasn’t yet able to speak, point at me with his tiny mouth open in shock.
On an overnight train to Guilin, I woke up to a middle-aged man starring down at me from the top bunk of three. Even as eye contact was made, his curiosity didn’t flinch. It wasn’t the most comforting thing to wake up to, that’s for sure!
As these trains make multiple stops for passengers to get on and off, if you’re getting on mid-journey, make sure you check the bedsheets! Some countries definitely change all sheets for every customer after every person leaves. Some countries do not. China, for example, would allow people to sleep on recently used linen. One man even layed down into sweaty sheets – I could literally see wet patches!
Another major issue with overnight trains is there can be a lot of light from the carriages during the night. Thailand’s overnight commute actually left all cabin lights on the entire duration. Both times. I’m a bit sensitive to light, so a face mask/bandana really helped block out the majority of light! While booking your ticket, claiming that bottom bunk can drastically help improve sleep. There are only bottom and top bunk, so get in early.
Thailand’s top bunk can also be quite intimidating as the train rattles and rolls along the rattling rails. The resulting jolt can easily wake you up. On top of that, the railing preventing you from plummeting to the floor below is quite short.
However, it was trains in Egypt that hold the first placed trophy for noisy overnight trains. I remember a distinct late-night bump that not only woke me up, I thought we had crashed.
After all that, despite their flaws, I still thoroughly enjoyed overnight trains in Thailand, and even China. They sure do have a fault or two with each of them, but I still love them. I can usually lay completely flat on the provided bed, and thus sleep quite well…usually.
You can read about my very first culture shock in Egypt here.
Of the two I have caught in my travels, both provided a great sleep and comfort level, even if I had to get a little creative.
From Albania to Italy, all the “prime” spots were quickly snapped up. A quick scourer of the deck found a staircase. Below was dark, cool and quiet. I have definitely had worse nights of sleep in a bed.
From Koh Tao to Surat Thani in Thailand was basically a giant floating hostel of around 60 beds. It was amazing.
Both bed and temperature were comfortable. Another plus is you have an allocated bed so no need to rush on to claim a decent spot. Some beds were placed on the floor, it didn’t bother me too much, but to ensure a bunk, enquiring at ticket purchase would be best.
As is the case with most overnight transport, you’re in bunk beds without a storage locker to secure your things. A few tips I have developed along the way are:
Put my belongings away from the aisle, and between my face or chest and against the wall.
Wrapping one arm through the backstraps, or locking the straps to a fixed pole.
Padlocking the zipper ensures people can’t just open the bag and take what they want!
Remember, most theft is opportunistic. Make it difficult for them and they will most likely walk away.
Many of these tips can be found in my ultimate guide to hostels and hostel frequently asked questions. These tips can be used in a number of situations when traveling.
Flights are almost a necessity for both international and domestic travel sometimes. A price of a flight can reflect quite a few things like stopovers, transit time and tier.
There are quite a few sites geared at getting the best deals for flights. I seem to gravitate towards especially in foreign countries as the search engine checks for flights in multiple languages. Once your flight is selected, the third-party app/webpages redirect you to the affiliate airline site for you to complete your booking.
Since the search engine checks foreign languages, being directed to a hard to navigate site written in a foreign language can happen. To get around this, calling the airline company and booking over the phone has always worked for me. I just quote the price I found online and I’ve always been satisfied with the price.
It can be frustrating when it doesn’t go smoothly, but when it does I’m confident I’m getting the absolute best price available for that leg. This was especially true throughout Asia where a lot of budget airlines operate and other search engines, such as Google Flights, didn’t give the option.
Skyscanner is another great place to compare prices, especially throughout Europe. You can hop around major cities a few hours away for next to nothing.
If you’ve ever been searching for flights and suddenly the price jumps. It could be the flight is getting closer to selling out, but usually, it’s the flight app/site increasing the price as you searched for it more than once.
Sneaky, right?! At least the fix is easy. By clearing cookies from within your browser settings, it makes your next search seem as if it’s your first.
Make sure you check out the best travel resources to book your next adventure.
Flights with layovers on purpose
Most of the time layovers are a nightmare. Whether they are so short you’re rushed to make your connecting flight, or they are so long that you go insane from boredom. Sometimes, a layover can work in your favor.
For example, some destinations are “layover worthy”. Iceland Air has a nice little bonus that you can separate your incoming and outgoing flight by days – even weeks! This is more than enough time to circumnavigate the beautiful ring-road surrounding this little gem of a destination.
While many destinations allow you to come and go freely from airports (it is still your responsibility to allow enough time to make your connecting flight). However, some airports take it a step further. Many airports offer “free transit-tours” Seoul in South Korea is one of these destinations. Depending on your layover length and your time of arrival at Incheon International Airport, you may have a range of tours to choose from. I met a couple that were doing 3 tours in a day – transport and tour guide included in this free tour. It was a great way to see a tiny piece of an interesting country.
Some airports are worthy of a layover in themselves. Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is one of these. With free showers, and a range of free activities – from music and dance displays to painting your very own traditional Korean roof tile.
So many airports make layovers fun, or at least take your mind off the regular tedious layover. San Fransisco has museums and even a movie theatre. Use Sleep In Airports to get the scoop on any airport you are thinking about spending time in. Find places to sleep and much more. They are amazing at what they do.
Other ways to travel a country worth mentioning
Hire a vehicle
Hiring vehicles is a definite possibility, and a lot of Southeast Asian destinations it can be the only way to visit lesser-known destinations. Hiring SEA motorbikes can come with a variety of scams, while a thorough check of your vehicle before you leave the hiring company office is a great habit to get into. I always (when possible) through a hostel affiliated company. If something goes wrong, there’s a good chance you won’t be left in the dark about what is going on!
This goes the same if you own your car – creating an extended road trip can give you the freedom to explore parts of a country you would never have seen otherwise.
I used a car-sharing app in Italy, and compared to a train it saved over $100, compared to a bus is saved a few hours! The site I used is called BlaBlaCar (link below). As always, checking intended drivers is highly suggested. Check their ratings and reviews. Maybe go for the driver of a 4.9-star rating with 100+ reviews, over the 5-star driver with a single review.
Just enter your intended travel route (where from, where to, and date) and you’ll be presented – hopefully – with a range of options. My experiences with this app have saved me both time and money.
If you can, why not turn a normal transit day into a sightseeing tour? An example I have of this – the stunning Hai Van Pass. A stretch of road from Hoi An to Hue in Vietnam. Instead of taking a normal bus or train, I sat on the back of a motorbike (a little more powerful than the 125cc ones I’m used to hiring). Included in the price was a confident and safe driver and an itinerary that made the Hai Van Pass a major Vietnam highlight.
Other times, just being on a transit day will automatically become a sight-seeing tour. Take the ferry to the beautiful Phi Phi Island!
“Tours” can pop up in some pretty unexpected places. Take Laos to Cambodia border crossing for example. Booking tickets was simple, and the company handled everything to do with crossing the border well-known for scamming tourists.
Many other tours are one-way trips. Instead of just catching direct transport, why not see some things along the way?
Two well-respected companies are and Viator. You can find my top travel resources for every adventure – click the link at the top of this page.
One of my favorite ways of getting from point A to B, as long as it’s a short distance.
If you can walk, I suggest doing traveling this way, for a number of reasons:
You’ll see more sights than confined to a window of a taxi or bus. Some of the best sights are those not marked on any map or blog post. It’s much cheaper. You can’t get any cheaper than free. It’s good for you. I don’t travel nearly as healthy as I should sometimes, so I always love the option to walk.
Tips for long-distance travel
Most tips I suggest here for long-distance travel are broad and can be used regardless of the transport type.
I can read and write easily without motion sickness to kill the time. To increase your tolerance for travel sickness, carrying sea sickness tablets seems to work fine. Through the 762 curve road from Chiang Rai to Pai in Thailand, my sea-sickness tablets were helpful!
Having your phone charged at the end of your journey, or at least having your accommodation address written down is handy. Most bus stations – especially throughout Asia – are just outside city limits and a taxi/tuk-tuk is required. By having your intended address at the ready, it’s easy to deal with a swarm of taxi drivers. By leaving the taxi’s perched at the bus station and hailing a random one from a road (if possible) usually yields a better price.
The majority of luxury/VIP buses will have a bathroom. But not all. Asking when you buy your ticket is a good idea if you want these facilities.
A pillow/headrest for the inevitable nap is always in my transit day pack. As well as headphones and a way to cover my eyes from the intrusive light that stops a deep sleep. I use this style face mask.
Tips for traveling in the night
Most tips I suggest for night travel can be adapted to many different forms of night travel. As well as tips from the above “Long Distance” section carry over to this section.
Most night transport is at least 6 hours long. If you’re lucky they allow you to stay on the bus to sleep a little longer (SaPa in Vietnam). Most drop-offs are early morning, around 4-8am – depending on routes/other stops/traffic.
I always have this style face mask to block out that pesky light.
I prefer headphones with soft music as white noise over headphones. It’s definitely not for everyone but works for me
For overnight travel, depending on the length and how coherent I need to be at my destination, I take a combination of a sleeping pill and/or melatonin. It helps me to get the most out of a sometimes uncomfortable sleep.
Setting an alarm is a good habit for night travel. It’s usually easy to find the expected arrival time. I give myself 10 minutes to pack my belongings. I left my phone on a bus in Kosovo, Eastern Europe. This is why I have this rule in place for every night transit.
If you’re not totally sure of where you should get off, whether a connecting transport or your final destination, try and communicate with the driver. I took a passenger’s advice on a bus from Greece to Macedonia, and I ended up in Albania. I still remember that guy I put my faith in. Whoops.
Conclusion on best ways to travel a country
In the end, the “best” way to travel throughout a country is entirely subjective. Time constraints and personal preferences will play into the best choice. However, research will always be a huge part of this decision. Whether that is through Google or the drunk guy at your hostel bar. Take any and all reviews, both positive and especially negative reviews with a small grain of salt.
I’ve read and heard so many complaints along the lines of “the road was too windy to sleep” – this isn’t really the company’s problem. If you’re driving through mountains – expect some turns. If you’re on a boat in a storm – probably going to be a little choppy.
The point is, it’s not always where you end up that’s going to be your favorite story on the road. The hardships by simply traveling from one town to another have created some of my favorite travel stories ever. Try it all and see what works for you!
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Happy and safe travels,
Ben – Horizon Unknown
Transportation Choices: Ranking the Cleanest Ways to Travel
Human beings are good at comparing things in order to make informed choices. Recently, a transportation information technology group (TNMT) ranked vehicles to compare how much they pollute. They based their rankings on estimates of how many grams of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) a vehicle emits to move one person the distance of one kilometer (roughly a little over half a mile). Understanding these emission differences can help us travel efficiently without adding to air pollution and climate change.
The cleanest modes of transportation are walking and biking. Walking to and from the store will not only get you closer to your daily step goal, it will not contribute to air pollution. If you biked one kilometer to the store, your bike’s emissions score would be 8. Compare that to taking the bus, which has a score of 38.
Unfortunately, the way we built our cities over the last century means many of us do not live within walking or biking distance of our workplaces, schools, restaurants, theaters or sports arenas. This system of urban planning has given rise to our current dependency on motorized vehicles.
Emissions vary widely from one kind of vehicle to another. Ground transportation vehicles like buses and trains have lower emission scores than cars because they move many people at once, reducing their per-person CO 2 emissions. However, there are two single-occupancy vehicle options that can emit fewer than 100 grams of CO 2 to move you one kilometer: an electric road scooter (21) and an electric car (99).
No surprise: gasoline-powered vehicles rank near the bottom of the ratings. A motorcycle comes in at 137. A typical car emits over 200 grams of CO 2 to move a person one kilometer. Cars also emit high levels of other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter into the air we breathe.
Having this ranking as a reference is an easy way to start making decisions about our transportation habits that can add up to important improvements to the health of not only our lungs but also our planet. Now that you have the comparison numbers, what changes will you make?
For more information, go to the TNMT report findings.
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