Planes, trains, ferries, taxis, tuk tuk, bicycle, rental vehicle, foot, rickshaw, canoe, there are an amazing array of ways you can get yourself from A to B while traveling. The question that I often asked and now get asked is; “what is the best way to get from here to there?”

Tuk Tuk
The name is impressive but after 75km in one you are ready to get out. The Cambodian Tuk Tuk

Sometimes you don’t have a lot of choice.  When leaving New Zealand there is a lot of ocean to cross, even to our nearest neighbour, which means that the plane is the only practical way to get somewhere reasonably efficiently.

However, once over that ocean, the choices start to increase and the answer on what is best comes down to a number of factors:

  • Time available
  • Distances to be traveled
  • Fitness
  • Your motivation
  • Your budget
  • Your partner
  • Your comfort tolerances
  • What is available and what is practical
You don't experience a Country by flying over it
You don’t experience a Country by flying over it

Once the plane has landed, our preference is to travel on the surface rather than fly. You don’t experience much at 10,000m and airports have a habit of being some distance from anywhere you want to be and, apart from the “transfers”, you have the endless time waiting around airports and going through security checks.

Car travel is my least preferred option. You are in a strange country, the driver and to some extent, the navigator, is distracted by too many things related to staying alive than enjoying the surroundings. Let’s face it, you do not appreciate the finer details when flying by them at 80+km per hour. Furthermore, many roads just do not give you the ability to stop at those places that need to be stopped at. For us, car travel was usually adopted for “only real option available” reasons when alternatives just did not look that practical.

Saar River Bike trail
We discovered hidden gems along the Saar River in Germany while biking from Saarbrucken to Koblenz

I must fess-up that my appetite for car travel was killed by an insane 4 month road trip through Europe in 1975 where (I was the main driver) we clocked up 53,108.35km in a very dilapidated Ford Cortina. The lasting memory of that trip was the exhaustion from long hours behind the wheel. Lesson learned.

The Ford Cortina that we traveled 53,000km in four months. Picture is taken on the the Yugoslavian coast (now Croatia). It was either out of petrol or broken down. I learnt a lesson about car transport during that insane trip.
The Ford Cortina that we traveled 53,000km in four months. Picture is taken on the the Yugoslavian coast (now Croatia). It was either out of petrol or broken down. I learnt a lesson about car transport during that insane trip.

So we tend to head for an area and then travel by foot and bike around that locale or we will use other modes of transport to get us to specific experiences if we cannot walk or bike there.

The journey when we had a boat was often part of the experience. It was slow but never boring and Ruth felt it was her perfect way of traveling as long as the sea was calm.
With our boat, the experience always started once we left the marina berth. It was slow but never boring and Ruth felt it was her perfect way of traveling as long as the sea was calm.

The walking and or biking often become the experience; a week biking down the Moselle River, 5 days walking the Queen Charlotte Track, 10 days walking the Cotswold Way, to name a few. These are always our most memorable travel experiences. We seek out cycle experiences that are off main transport routes, cycling in traffic is not our forte.

The Cotswold walk was 167km taking us through varied and pretty English countryside and villages at a pace that we could enjoy.
The Cotswold walk was 167km taking us through varied and pretty English countryside and villages at a pace that we could enjoy.
Strolling across a farm on the Cotswold Way
Strolling across a farm on the Cotswold Way

Getting between these “bases” we usually opt for a “surface delivered” mode of public transport, we both get to enjoy the scenery, even if it is whizzing by, especially on high speed trains. Far less stressful and you are generally delivered into the city or town, no transfers and generally no security check although that sadly is beginning to change.

Ruth also finds train travel very relaxing as does her daughter Anna. Needless to say, they failed to answer any of my questions about the landscape between Milan and Venice.
Ruth also finds train travel very relaxing as does her daughter Anna. Needless to say, they failed to answer any of my questions about the landscape between Milan and Venice.

Trains vary, the high speed European variety are amazing, the slow Vietnamese type not so dazzling and for the latter slower version, you cannot be in a hurry. If you only have a week in Vietnam forget the train travel (and the bus).

Taking pictures out of train windows is challenging, the filth filter can often be a factor as can objects flashing unexpectedly into your frame. A picturesque section of the trip between Hue and Da Nang on board the Reunification Express.
Taking pictures out of train windows is challenging, the filth filter can often be a factor as can objects flashing unexpectedly into your frame. A picturesque section of the trip between Hue and Da Nang on board the Reunification Express.

Yes we still use a car but not in the way I did in 1975. We use it in a similar way to a train or bus, get us to our next locale where we spend time doing what we enjoy most. The car is the choice we make when other transport modes do not exist or look sporadic or dodgy.

Distance to river, time, lack of a suitable surface for pulling our bags were all factors that determined we should take a more conventional mode of transfer to our ferry connection in Chou Doc, Vietnam
Distance to river, time, lack of a suitable surface for pulling our bags were all factors that determined we should take a more conventional mode of transfer to our ferry connection in Chou Doc, Vietnam
This is one of the more interesting bike ferries that we have encountered. Hoi An, Vietnam
This is one of the more interesting bike ferries that we have encountered. Hoi An, Vietnam

Boat is another mode which we can enjoy for shorter hauls. The ferries in the Greek Islands were excellent, the trips in daylight were scenic, the overnight one were comfortable (a cabin) and economic in that transport and accommodation were wrapped into one cheaper deal. Our choice of ferry across the rougher Irish sea was a little more questionable but it worked for our itinerary, not for Ruth’s sea sickness.

The ferry ride from Rhodes to Kos was always close to land with interesting stopovers such as this one at Symi
The ferry ride from Rhodes to Kos was always close to land with interesting stopovers such as this one at Symi

Overall we like to walk, even when in a bigger city. When the legs get a bit tired we will seek out the metro or a bus but the problems with metro, apart form the crowds, is that you don’t get any idea of what is above. We do tend to avoid the bikes in the bigger cities unless it is part of a longer trip. Cycling in traffic is not our forte. Sure walking can get a little sweaty in the hotter climates but you come home from your travels fitter and slimmer now that has to be a win-win.

Between biking the river boat transported us and bikes and served lunch, Mekong River Vietnam
Between biking the river boat transported us and bikes and served lunch, Mekong River Vietnam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 comments

  1. Always enjoy your blog Cliff, and entirely agree with your views on travelling.

    We are enjoying a few days in the Lake District. Had a 10 mile walk taking in Place Fell (657 mtrs) and a 4 mile section along Ullswater Lake (not all level). Beautiful weather.

    Best wishes to you both, Carol and John

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    1. Hi Carol – Sounds great, the weather was not too obliging for our stay up there. We have been busy with “domestic” chores associated with our new location and house. Have to say we are missing the travel, heading off for 10 days to the Cook Islands at the end of June and starting to investigate some longer trips after our South Island travels next southern summer. All the best – Cliff & Ruth

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