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?”
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
- Your motivation
- Your budget
- Your partner
- Your comfort tolerances
- What is available and what is practical
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.