Buses, Planes, Trains, Oh My!

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.

"Hogwarts" train in th Scottish Highlands

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.

Eurostar from London to Paris

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.

the inside of a sleeper bus in Vietnam

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.

Inside of a Haggis Adventure Tours bus

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:


Memories of a Summer Highland Fling PLUS Bucket List: Sleep in a Haunted Building

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change
that goes on, deep and permanent, in the
ideas of the living,”
– Miriam Beard

In the summer of 2010 I slept in a haunted castle. Or so I was told that it was haunted by several ghosts and well, that is good enough for me. Carbisdale Castle is located near the Kyle of Sutherland (in the Scottish Highlands) and was built for a duchess. How cool is that? Nowadays, Carbisdale Castle is used as a youth hostel and it turned out to be one of the hostels that I stayed in for a night during my five day adventure of the Scottish Highlands. Nestled up on a hill and surrounded by woodland, the castle was a beautiful place to spend the night. However, that didn’t stop me from being terrified to go to the washroom, look in mirrors, or open my eyes even a peep once the lights were out. Unfortunately… (ok, so I’m secretly thankful!) I did not encounter any ghosts. But I did sleep in a castle that was said to be haunted. So, that bucket list goal was accomplished! Maybe now I need to add on a new bucket list goal: have a real, ghostly encounter? Even the thought gives me the creeps.

I’m hesitant about joining tour groups. It doesn’t matter where I go, if I go alone or with a friend, I am always convinced that I can just do it on my own.. and also, I always think it will be a lot cheaper than it would be to go on an organized tour. Despite that, I chose to sign up for a tour of the Scottish Highlands with a friend of mine. The two of us, along with a girl she had met earlier on her travels were all booked for the same tour: The 5-Day Highland Fling, a five day tour through the company Haggis Adventures. Those five days turned out to be the best five days I had ever had and, to this day, they are certainly still very high up there on my mental list of best days ever. I was extremely happy that I decided to book through Haggis Adventures. My group, whom we all dubbed “The Ayemac Clan” and even got a girl to draw a lovely crest for ourselves, was amazing. Truly the greatest group of people.

During the next five days, memories were made that will continue to last me a lifetime. Within five days I did many things. I did whiskey shots before lunch. I called out to Nessie and was fully prepared to offer a girl from our group as a sacrifice. I played in Neverland, the home of Peter Pan. I touched a tomb that has now cursed me with bad luck for eternity. On the other hand, I dunk my face into a freezing river in order to have eternal beauty. I rode around in the biggest, brightest yellow bus with the words Wild and Sexy on it for five days. I sat and saw a train cross over the Harry Potter bridge. I learned some traditional Scottish dance moves. I kissed Hamish the Hairy Coo. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. And whenever I see the letters DSL, I think of Deep Scottish Love, without fail. I actually asked a Scottish guy last summer if he knew what DSL meant and I was very, very disappointed that not every Scottish person knew what that meant, as I had believed.

I have always meant to write a post about my time on the Highland Fling tour but for some reason just never got around to doing it. Over the last two days, a video made by one of the guys in our group was rediscovered and has been circulating Facebook. I’ve watched it five times today already and have shown it to people who probably don’t actually care. So, I thought I would show it to all of you as well! Enjoy! And thank you, Rob, for the incredible video!