These days there is every possible form of transportation available to the world traveler. Planes tend to be a popular (and necessary) choice for long, overseas flights. But once you’ve landed on your desired continent or country you have a few other choices jumping into the mix. Two of the most popular methods of transportation are buses and trains. Other options are boat, car, hitch-hiking, motorcycle, or simply trekking long distances, just to name a few.
Now in my perfect world people would still ride horses everywhere… but since that no longer happens, I usually opt for buses or trains. I would love to one day rent a car somewhere like Italy, Australia, or the UK, but because I am a bit terrified of driving on the wrong side of the road and am not the world’s greatest driver even at home in my own car, I will stick with a bus or a train for those longer journeys.
Trains are often the more luxurious choice and can sometimes be a faster journey. Trains will often have plug-ins for things like laptops and cell phones, which are nice for the technological traveler or for people who work off of their laptops. Fancier trains will also have beverage cars where you can get drinks of your choice to pass the time. I have never been on such a train because I pay for the cheaper variety where all you get is whatever you bring with you.
If you’re traveling overnight, you might be interested in paying a little bit more and getting the comfort of a sleeper train, where you get a little bed, blanket and a pillow. Pop a sleeping tablet (if you’re into that sort of thing), stick on an eye mask, shove in your music or earplugs, take a snooze and when you wake up you’ll be in a new city.
As nice as trains can be, they are more spacious and comfortable, I tend to go for buses. The longest bus ride I have ever been on was sixteen hours. When I traveled through Europe I mostly got from one place to the next by bus, unless I had to cross water or could get a cheap flight through budget airlines like Ryanair or Jet2. In Southeast Asia, I took a bus every single time. As with trains, you can also opt for a sleeper bus, or a regular bus. Check out my post about my time on a sleeper bus in Vietnam.
In S.E.A you could even pay less if you didn’t want air conditioning. That is a horrible choice, in my opinion, because you will be in a hot, sweaty, stinky bus for 13+ hours depending on where you’re headed. I had a few interesting adventures on the buses over there, such as broken armrests on the sleeper bus (meant to keep you from falling out of your “bed”), broken seat belts, getting nice and cozy with a few strangers. But it was nothing compared to the horror stories of day long bus journeys on a small bus with no A/C and a variety of animals to accompany the humans.
Generally though, I just love traveling by bus. I don’t know what it is. I have always had the best moments on buses. I have had deep, heart-to-heart conversations about the meaning of life with complete strangers. I have written countless entries in my travel journals. I have stayed up into the wee hours of the night getting to know new travel companions with games such as “Mate, Date or Kill”. Actually, that might not even be what it’s called but that’s basically how the game goes.
Although traveling by day can sometimes be a drag because it eats up a good chunk of your time that you could use to explore, I love to sit and watch the different scenery go by. I also do some of my best thinking on a bus. This must happen to other people, right? I get huge, life-changing revelations and suddenly I just know what I’m meant to be doing in every aspect of my life.
Motorcycles are also a really fun way to get around within a city itself. I’ve only ever been on a real motorcycle once and now want to change my whole life around and buy my own, wear leather clothes and boots and ride around like I own the city. I did get around occasionally in Vietnam on the back of a thing that looked like a cross between a moped and a motorcycle. With a middle aged Vietnamese man who spoke very little to no English and city buses close enough for me to just stick my foot sideways and touch it, I would say it was a bit exciting.
Any form of transportation is going to get you where you need to go, it’s just personal preference and budget allowance that is going to ultimately decide for you. How do you prefer to get around?
I leave you now with a video on what it’s like to motorbike for 8 minutes in Vietnam: