Friday, February 6, 2009

10 Ways to Get There

So you know where you’re going, but what is going to get you there? Mode of transportation is one of the most important aspects of traveling, and it can enhance or detract from just about every vacation, tour, or travel experience you embark upon. Listed below you will find ten different ways of getting to your location, no matter where on the planet it might be.

1. Cruise Ship
When people think of vacations, they often think of cruise ships. There are images of fancy dresses and piano bars as the open waters and tropical sun allows all worries to simply float away. And this is true - to a point.

What is less thought of are the screaming children running amuck, the drunk and stoned teenagers throwing lawn chairs into the Atlantic, the brief stops at ports, and the floating sweatshop culture that is bred by the industry. Can you have a good time when you know the staff work six and a half days a week for little more than ten dollars a day plus tips?

The food is great
Cheap bottles of alcohol are easy to sneak on when transferred into water bottles
Lots of countries in a short span

Hardly any time to explore the country
Open days at sea can drag on
Little else to do aside from eating and drinking

2. Airplane
Most people think of this as simply how to get somewhere. But airplanes are so much more. A quick flight from one place to another is often better than a bus ride, and comparable in cost. A flight can also get you to more out of the way destinations such as northern lakes, and mountain peaks.

Near unlimited options
Great overhead photography ops

You miss everything in between
Some prices can be way too high
Waiting in airports

3. Train
The train can be a fantastic way to relax and watch the world go by outside. Open fields that seem to stretch on forever take on a pleasant relaxing feeling. There is little waiting, as another train will always be by soon. Seeing a country from the rails is an experience not to be missed, especially if the track takes you through mountains.

But then there are the trains that you will wait forever for. There will be no second. You’re cramped. You’re tight. You’re hot. You need to hang outside of the car (India.) And if that person doesn’t stop sneaking in to your sleep car that you paid for - - - ! Well, there are different kinds of trains.

Many countries offer rail passes that can reduce your financial burden significantly.

It can be the best of times.

It can be the worst of times.

4. Bicycle
Bicycles are a cheap, friendly, and ecologically beneficial way to get from point A to point B. You can hop on and off wherever and whenever you want. If there’s something at the side of the road that you want to take a picture of, it’s no problem to lower the kick stand and get your shot. On a train, you can just think back on the swell memory of what once was.

Bicycles also allow you to experience the atmosphere of a country. You take in the smells, the sounds, and most importantly, you can talk to the people who live wherever you are. Many locals are surprisingly friendly to bicyclists. And due to the popularity of bikes you can buy one in just about any country, without shelling out too much money.

Complete control over your journey
Good way to meet people

When they break down, you need to know how to fix them
Not the best for long distance if you’re not up for it
Easy to steal

5. Car
Sometimes a car is the only way to get where you’re going. If you have miles to cover, and you don’t want to take off into the air, you need a car. There is nothing like the great road trip that covers all parts of your home country. And renting a car on the road? Well it can be just as exciting.

However, you need to make sure you know enough about cars to fix them yourself if you’re planning to travel to any remote locations. You also need to know how to fuel your car: you wouldn’t want to fill your tank with Diesel by mistake, would you? It’s not as easy to figure this out when no one speaks your native tongue.

Quick and controllable
Can double as a tent
Two Words: Air Conditioning

Hard to fix
International Licenses need to be obtained

6. Walking
This is how it used to be done. Armies would march off to war, across mile upon mile. Now it seems we need a car or bicycle to get to the corner store. But there is a lot to be said for walking. Being at street level you experience a city for what it truly is. There are also many destinations that are reachable only by the power of your own two legs. The Incan Trail, in Peru, being one of the most famous.

However walking isn't all fun and trails. While you think it might be a great idea at first, when you’re twenty kilometers into your journey, and you realize that you still have to make it back to your room for the night - it can be somewhat regrettable. Still, any trip where you never once get out to walk around is a completely wasted experience.

7. The Subway
You can tell a lot about a city by its subway system. Sometimes riding the rails (such as the 501 street car line in Toronto) will offer you a beautiful view of the entire city. Other times you might simply want to get off at a random station and head up to street level. Stations are not just thrown in haphazardly. If there’s a station there, there’s life there. Go out and find it.

Not only are subways quick and direct, but they also offer you an easy way to make it home for the night. If you know what stop your room is at, you can get as lost as you want, provided you know how to say, “which way to the nearest station."

Quick and Easy

Unfortunately crime can be present here

8. Bus
Whether you’re heading from one station to the next on a bright red double decker in London, or taking a Grey Hound from Mexico City to San Francisco, the bus can be a delightful way to get around. There’s something more honest about taking the bus; it’s a gritty experience, and everyone on board knows they’re in for the long haul.

And stories: after three days on the road, you learn how to wash your hair in a sink, while showering in the bathroom stall. As for that person who annoyed you for twelve hours talking about their girlfriend back home? Sure it was terrible at the time, but you’ll joke about him forever. Money can’t buy gifts like that.

Plus, now and then you get to relax and watch a couple of movies too.


Some drivers will terrify you
You will sweat, and you will smell
Those people who won't shut up (it’s fine when you talk - but when they do?)

9. Strange Tourist Contraptions

There are a number of these things. Often times they resemble trains that run on wheels. You can normally find them outside of tourist resorts, offering free rides around the local area. Yes they’re free, and yes they will get you where you’re going - but when you’re in a country where your one week trip costs more than their annual income, how do you really feel about sitting on a bright green car/train as it travels through all the places you wouldn’t dare walk by yourself?

Still - you paid good money for your vacation and your chance to get up close to the locals, and you will take it. Even if it does mean placing your behind against the metal seats that have been roasting in the sun all day.

Pros / Cons:
If you are going to ride one of these, you’re going to ride one. No one can steer you either way.

10. Other
This is nowhere near a complete list. There are so many other ways to travel ranging from taxi to ferry; camel, to sled dog; rickshaw to hot air balloon. Remember, it’s not just about where you go or how you get there. It’s also about what gets you there.


  1. We're going to Paris, Barcelona, and Marrakech in May. We are considering bicycles as a mode of transport. Most cities offer bikes for hire nowadays.

  2. Here in Mexico I do all my travelling by local bus...the bus system is cheap, practical, highly efficient, and very just need an IPOD with tunes to blot out the annoying dubbed kung Fu films...


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