Travel Transport 101: Choosing How to Get from A to B

Your gap year is here, you’re on the road, and you need to plan a way to get from point A to point B. For large distances, most people assume the best solution is to hop on a plane – they’re comfortable (erm… sort of), fast, and that’s just what people do, right?


Photo © iStock/chameleonseye

Little do people know that – sometimes – catching a quick flight might mean missing out on a whole world of adventure.

Here’s why you should ditch that quick flight, and take the longer, less comfortable route instead.

Budget Transport

Planes might seem nice and necessary, but in my experience, there are always alternatives. Be it a marshrutky minibus in Central Asia, or a bike with saddlebags whizzing across Europe ­– most alternatives are cheaper than planes, too!

Seriously, who wants to queue up for hours in this? Photo credit: iStock

Instead of squishing into the middle seat, why not squish between chuckling locals and a squawking chicken or two on one of Central America’s famously rainbow chicken buses? The ride can get a bit cramped at times, but when a 10-hour ride only costs a few dollars, it’s hard to complain.

Instead of committing yourself to cattle class, try an overnight ride on one of India’s legendary trains.

Forget stewardesses peddling carts filled with grossly-overpriced (and under-flavored) sandwiches and soft drinks; in India, you can sip paper cups of steaming, sweet chai for pennies as you watch men laden with boxes of samosas, buckets of chickpeas, and trays filled with knick-knacks roam the train’s aisles. 

Transport for the Adventurous

Even if you’re not on the tightest budget, there’s no denying it’s more adventurous to find an overland route to your next destination. Which story would you want to tell your friends at home?

A. We took a plane from Bangkok up to Chiang Mai. The peanuts were nice.

B. We overnighted to Chiang Mai on a bus from hell manned by a dude on way too much speed and Red Bull who blasted Thai karaoke at 3-in-the-freaking-morning.

The latter isn’t necessarily the safest – or most comfortable – option… but you can’t deny it’s something you’ll never forget! My ears still haven’t recovered, that’s for sure…

Don’t mind the danger – millions of people take bus journeys like that every day. Most of them survive.

Pros and Cons

Of course, there’s more to choosing transport than seeking out the most adventurous option.

Always consider the environmental impact when finding your way to your next destination. Land-based public transportation, packed to the brim with people, is always your best bet.

Modes of transport such as trains, buses, and cars filled with passengers and hitchhikers are a much more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly method compared to large, heavy, fume-spewing flying machines.

That’s not to say it’s easy to make such a decision… I know. It all sounds well and good until you’ve been standing on the side of the road with your thumb out for hours, cursing cars that refuse to pick you up. Or when your minibus has broken down in the middle of nowhere and help is definitely not on the way.

When your frustration peaks, it’s important to remember that it’s all part of the experience, and what’s miserable now will probably give you a good (if not hysterical) laugh in a couple of days.

Transportation on the road is full of surprises. If you learn to take them as they come, you’ll face far more adventures on your gap year than you could ever imagine!

What was the most nerve-wrecking experience you've had on foreign public transport? Share your stories below!

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