Riddle me this: how are you going to get from A to B on the other side of the world?
It’s pretty daunting to consider, especially from the comforts of your couch at home, how you’re going to get around India, or island hop in the Philippines. There are so many different methods and modes of transport out there that how can you make your choice? And which way is the best way to travel to ensure you get the utmost experience?
Eek, with all these huge questions to consider here is a little look at how you can work out what type of travel will suit you the best.
What Types of Travel Are Available To Me?
I do most of my travel independently and by booking with local providers as I go. In New Zealand I had a car for most of the time, but even when I am without one I don’t have a problem with making use of the transport network available.
Some of your greatest memories can be made in the journeys themselves and I believe that the method of transportation you choose has a huge impact on whether your time in X, Y or Z country gets stored away in your ‘Epic Adventures’ mental file to pull out and reminisce on a few years later.
The main thing here is to think about the terrain you are about to cover and pick a method of transport that’s suitable. For both you and for the terrain.
What I mean is, some people would love the chance of buying a motorbike in Vietnam and riding from South to North or visa versa, pitching up in tiny villages to find a place to sleep, dealing with breakdowns, adverse weather, getting lost. For these people the adventure would far outweigh any hiccups along the road.
For other people, that would seem too daunting, be physically uncomfortable or simply push them too far out of their comfort zone. So in other cases you might opt to purchase a hop on hop off style bus ticket, or take a sleeper train, or even fly.
And sometimes you may even consider a group tour. I know, I know, for a lot of people this would be an immediate nose wrinkling statement. However, I am currently in Western Australia, which for those who don’t know is an incredibly vast state. I mean, this is a seriously big place. Hours of driving can lapse in searing heat until the next small settlement or the occasional roadhouse. So for me, right now, I made a decision to join a group to travel from Perth to Broome so I had company for the journey and I didn’t have to personally sit behind the wheel for thousands of kilometres.
Things To Think About When Planning Your Journey
Here’s some questions you may want to ask yourself when you’re planning your journey and thinking about the most suitable type of travel.
1. What’s my budget?
This is a biggie and will probably be the first question you ask yourself. Money will inevitably shape the whole arc of your journey, whether you have a little or a lot. Funds will dictate the choices you have available to you and the type of experience you have but that is not to say one way or another is the better choice.
2. What’s my timescale?
You will know whether you are on a strict timescale or not. If you’ve got to get somewhere for a particular date then perhaps decide what will be on your not-to-be-missed list and sculpt your trip around them. More time on your hands doesn’t necessarily mean that you visit more places, however it allows you to travel more leisurely.
3. Am I able to drive / have a valid license?
f you drive in a foreign country bear in mind that you may be required to show an international driving license. If you opt to drive, make sure your car is capable of the journey you are undertaking and research what equipment you will need and bring it along.
4. Do I like to see where the road leads me or would I rather have a planned journey?
Does the thought of grabbing a map and hitting the open road appeal to you or would you prefer to have a more structured approach? Along the way, are you likely to want to take a turn off to a small town or village just to take a look or motor on passed to a spot that’s more likely to be in your guidebook.
5. Are there specific things I want to see in this country that are non-negotiable not to miss?
If, for example, trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is top of your must-do list then your plans will revolve around the local transport to and from the trail. Build your trip around your non-negotiables and the rest will fall into place.
6. Am I comfortable travelling independently / in a small naturally formed group?
For some people, meeting people on the road and concocting roadtrip plans that materialise overnight is a natural and exciting way to travel. Others may feel more hesitant agreeing to travel with people they’ve only just met. Go with your gut instinct about your fellow travellers and never put yourself in a position you’re uncomfortable with.
7. Is the type of transport I use part of my overall experience?
Some journeys revolve around the type of transport you take. The great rail journeys are a perfect example of this: the Trans Siberian railway, the Orient Express or The Ghan railway. A similar thing goes for cruises, too. Sometimes the journey itself is what the trip is all about.
The Best Way To Travel
Ok, so the premise of this blog was a little bit of a trick question. Because the answer is, as you and I both know, that there is no right or wrong way to travel.
There are times when your journey will unfurl itself before you and you will make choices based on what’s around you, who you meet, or what’s most practical or affordable. In other cases you will organise transport and its place in your journey may be reserved for more practical purposes like simply getting you from A to B .
You can kind of guess that I fall into the camp that romanticises the actual activity of travel, so I quite often get swept away by my eagerness and make grandiose sweeping statements about how the journey is often the best part of travelling – but that’s just me so I hope you’ll learn to forgive me!
So, at the end of it all, don’t let the eye rolling of the ardent independent backpacker stop you from joining a group tour if that’s what you want to do. And if you want to buy a car, moped, or campervan to travel in at your leisure then go for it! Enjoy riding in that tuk-tuk in Thailand, or that slow boat along the Mekong in Laos – the best thing is that you’re experiencing something.
How do you travel? Do you like to mix up plans of the ‘let’s see what happens’ variety, or do you prefer a guided group? Do you like to pre-plan sections of your trips or love doing your research on the ground to suss out what options are available to you?
Share your thoughts with me!
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