Trains, planes and automobiles – some of the many ways you can move between place to place on this planet we call home. If you’re anything like me or NOMADasaurus, you have a serious case of wanderlust and are doing anything and everything to get out and visit every country and see all that each one has to offer. Of course, as you can imagine to get to each of these places involves transport of some description – we like to spend time to take things in but at walking pace it would take just a littttttle too long. So below I’ve outlined some of my favourite vehicles for exploring, cliché but we all know the saying – it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.
For any of you who have been to Asia, I think you’ll agree that this certainly is the best way to travel within towns and cities. Not very fast so don’t try and hire one to go between cities, but great to whizz around side streets to get between temples or bars! Those of you who don’t know, a tuk-tuk is essentially a 3 wheeled scooter or motorbike traditionally as pictured below, but they really do come in all shapes and sizes depending on where you are in the world. They’re the cheapest way to move and perfect if you like to feel the wind whooshing through your hair care free! Used from India to Cambodia and everywhere in between there are no rules to travelling in a tuk-tuk, generally with room for between 3 and 5 people. I’ve travelled in them with 9 other backpackers all crammed in and hanging out the sides. A great way to make new friends when you’re relying on Tom from Ireland who bought you a pint only half an hour earlier not to let go of you and result in you falling into faster moving traffic…
I’m personally highly tempted by an idea put in my head by another travel blogging friend though, to buy a tuk-tuk and travel from one side of South East Asia to the other picking up other backpackers as I go. Would be pretty slow, but one hell of a story to tell.
Top Tip for Tuk Tuk rides: Hold onto your smaller bags pretty tight – It’s very common for pickpockets to swing by and grab your bag and before you blink all your tuppence is gone!
Motorbikes & Scooters
Very popular with many backpackers as it’s a cheap way to travel independently. You can hire a bike for $5 a day throughout some Asian countries and you can go off at your heart’s content! They’re great for some of the larger islands as the transportation is more expensive, and means you don’t have to worry about grabbing a tuk-tuk or taxi each time you fancy moving around during the day. Many of my friends travel entire countries on motorbikes. However, I am what you call less agile and tend to fall off quite spectacularly each time I try – 8th time lucky perhaps?!
Top tip for motorbikes & scooters: Beware that the owners expect them to come back in pristine condition or they will charge you an arm and a leg for any damage. Some of the dodgier ones will also charge you for damage already done to the bike once you’re back (and I guess that’s how they’re able to only charge $5 a day!) Make it really obvious that you’re inspecting the bike before you leave, and point out any damage before you leave to make it clear you won’t accept any funny business.
We all are aware of the term being ‘a bus wanker’ but I actually like travelling on buses! I agree, they do vary in calibre and comfort, but on the whole they’re not too bad. I used Greyhound to move around Australia, which boasted leather seats and wifi, the Kiwi Experience in New Zealand specifically for backpackers like you and I, double decker long distance buses in South East Asia and India, public city buses throughout Europe – the list could go on and on but I think you get the point. I’ve been on a lot of buses and they’re a great way to meet people because what else have you got to do on a 12 hour journey between Sydney and Byron Bay?
Top tips for buses: Have some good tunes ready and some snacks for longer journeys.
I guess it’s not entirely a mode of long distance transport, but I wanted to include it as they are such great fun. Cable cars can be found all over the world, from Rio in Brazil to Pushkar in India, and are a great way to get up high to see some views. In Northern Australia I took the cable car from Cairns to the secluded town of Kuranda and floated above the dense rainforest for about an hour, with two tree walk stops between before returning on the famous Kuranda Railway.
Top tip for cable cars: Don’t be scared of heights! Most have clear floors to give you the best view of below and they do tend to rock and bounce around a little as you move.
Pretty obvious that planes were going to be in here. Unless you are like NOMADasaurus, you do usually use them to get between countries that aren’t next door to each other. Most of you guys would have travelled on a plane before so I won’t digress too much here other than to say you should try to shop around for flights to get the best price. The same route can cost £900 one day, but only £480 the next!
Top tip for flights: Don’t try and look good for long flights. I literally look like a homeless person when I fly for ultimate comfort, while some people wear heels and mini skirts on 10 hour red eyes! MADNESS! It’s definitely not a fashion contest on an airbus 737
For me, boat travel is ever so relaxing and I’m lucky enough not to get sea sick unless it’s reallllly rough on the open waters. Used all over the world, it’s easy to find one to take you almost anywhere, and it’s the only practical way to travel to Antarctica if you’re planning to go like me!
Top tips for boats: Do it somewhere awe-inspiring! Take a long boat down the Mekong or Amazon. Hit the Norwegian fjords or sail the Whitsundays.
Growing up in the English countryside surrounded by farms, I got used to quad bikes at a young age. If you want to do a lot of cross country travel along rough terrain, it’s the perfect way to get around with some speed! I’ve used quad bikes in Croatia, Ibiza and in New Zealand and every time they’ve always been cracking – it’s also fairly difficult to fall off which is a true bonus when you’re as clumsy as me!
Top tip for quadbikes: Just go for it! The faster the better; and they’re pretty stable so you won’t have any problems when zooming along.
You can find trains all over the world, and I’ve travelled on them from India to Thailand and even on the only train line in New Zealand! Some of the most scenic travel you can do is on trains with the Orient Express and the Rocky Mountaineer. From a 5-minute journey or an 18 hour sleeper train, it’s always a comfortable way to travel in my mind. (Unless of course in cattle class, India – but that has its own merits of getting to know the locals!)
Top tip for trains: If you’re on a long journey pay the extra few dollars for a little more comfort in hot countries – air conditioning or a fan for only another $5 is worth its weight in gold once you hit hour 15…
I absolutely love riding camels and they are the BEST way to get around in the deserts. I’ve moved through India and the Australian outback on camels, and when they run, they really move!
Top tip for camels: They spit – you may not want to stand too close to their face.
So – Mars has water it seems. Shall we go?
Top tip for spaceships: Have a strong stomach for lift off…
If you think I’ve missed anything or if you want to add to the conversation, just let myself or Lesh and Jazza know! I know there are a hell of a lot more transportation methods available but if I wrote about them all I imagine you would get bored. So, until transportation is working I’ll leave you with this list.
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