The Best Ways of Getting Around – Transport Tips

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When you’re on the road or preparing for a trip somewhere, you’re bound to think about how you’re going to get where you need to go. There are so many options available to you these days (such as planes, cars, buses, trains, bikes, boats and more) that you may find yourself traveling on any number of these during the course of your trip.

Here’s I’ve compiled a list of tips for traveling on each mode of transport so that your journey might be easier, safety and more comfortable.

Planes

While planes are the fastest way to travel long distances, they can take their toll on your body as the mixture of a lack of sleep, cramped conditions and changing time zones come into play.

Jet lag and tiredness are two of the biggest problems. For more tips on how to combat these, check out these pages on how to sleep on a plane and how to overcome jet lag.

planeAirport security is now a massive issue, so be sure to comply with their every wish and don’t mess around (especially as penalties and fines for joking about bombs or firearms are now extremely severe).

Remember that lots of items are not prohibited from hand luggage (such as large bottles of liquids and aerosols), so be sure to pack these in your main luggage (that you’ll check in) otherwise you’ll have to throw them away.

Most airlines allow you to pre-book your seat up to 6 months in advance, so if there’s a particular area of the plane (such as a window seat) that you’d prefer to sit in you’ll have a better chance of getting it than if you simply turn up on the day.

While it’s tempting to have a drink before you fly (especially if you’re spending hours sat around at the airport bar) remember that alcohol only dehydrates you, and that being on a plane will massively dehydrate you further, so it’s best to be avoided. When flying make sure to drink plenty of water (beforehand and when on the plane) to keep your body hydrated. Aim to drink one large glass every hour that you’re awake.

If you’re a frequent flyer, be sure to remove the stuck-on luggage tags from your bags, as you can confuse airport handling staff and your bag may end up in the wrong place.

Because all luggage looks boringly similar, it’s a good idea to attach something unique to yours or to mark it in a unique way so that you can easily recognize it when it’s coming round the luggage carousel. Attaching a brightly colored ribbon of some kind is a popular method, but I prefer to stick a large piece of metallic-looking Duct tape to by bag (as it’s far manlier than a ribbon!)

Cars

Buying a Car
If you’re going to be spending a decent amount of time traveling around the USA or Australia (or similar countries where major cities are spaced widely apart) it can sometimes be financially viable to buy a car upon arrival and then sell it when you leave.

When buying a car, don’t advertise the fact that you’re a traveler passing through. If they think you’re here there stay they’ll be less likely to rip you off and sell you a car that’ll break down after 50 miles (as they’ll think that you’ll come back and complain if they do).

The rules for buying a car a pretty much the same as at home – make sure to take the car for a test drive first so that you can make sure it’s in good working order and that there are no glaring problems with it.

For advice on how to stay safe on the road, check out these travel safety tips.

Hired Cars
One way to travel extremely cheaply is to contact car hire companies (look for ‘automobile transporters’ and ‘driveaway car companies’ in the Yellow Pages directory) and ask if they need a car delivered to another city. If you offer to drive it there for them, all you’ll have to pay for is the petrol and your accommodation costs along the way (meaning you won’t have to pay to use the car).

To do this you’ll need to be over the age of 21 and be legally allowed to drive in the USA. This is especially good when you consider the fact that you need to be 25+ years old to rent a car in the USA.

For more information about this, check out this section on Automobile Transporters and Driveaway Cars USA.

Campervans
In some countries (such as New Zealand) campervans are common and can be rented out (usually for a period of a week or two) for a reasonable price. Campervans are extremely handy as they provide you with a kitchen and a bedroom as well as a means of transport, meaning you’ll save a load of money on food and accommodation costs.

In addition to this, they give you the freedom to go where you want, when you want, as you can stay anywhere at any time. They one major downside of this, is that unless you’re traveling with friends you’ll have very little contact with other people.

Buses

In most places, buses are the cheapest way to travel and oftentimes taking the bus is the only way to get to some areas. Traveling on a bus does have its downsides, however. For instance, don’t be surprised to see all manner of things squeezed onto the bus alongside you. Huge bags of rice, live animals, fish and bags of fruit are all things that I’ve had to sit next to whilst traveling in Thailand.

 

Overcrowded BusIn addition to this, buses are often the least reliable mode of transport. In lots of developing countries the conditions of the roads are pretty terrible, making them bumpy to ride on and dangerous.

Speaking of bumps – if you’re prone to travel sickness, avoid sitting at the back of the bus (where it’s bumpiest). Sit as near to the front as you can and avoid looking out of the side windows.

Be very cautious with your luggage when boarding a bus. Try to keep it with you if possible and avoid it being put up on the roof (where it can easily fall off or be stolen). Most buses have a luggage compartment underneath the bus, and this is a good place to store your bags, but make sure that you see the compartment doors close before you board the bus, and be sure to keep a keen eye on it at stops. Rather than steal your entire bag, thieves will often delve through its contents until they find something valuable (so that you won’t realize you’ve been robbed till several hours later).

If you’re traveling on a long bus journey and you’re sitting by the window, it’s a good idea to keep the window closed at all times. Why is this? If someone in front of you happens to be sick (or worse – urinate) out of the window than it’ll be sucked back any open windows behind it. I’ve been on a bus where this happened and it wasn’t pretty!

Trains

Trains are an excellent way to travel long distances, and they can also be extremely relaxing and enjoyable as you’ll get a panoramic view of all of the scenery that you’re going past.

view from a trainThe main problem with traveling on trains in foreign countries (i.e. where the main language isn’t English) is that it can be difficult to buy a ticket (or to buy the RIGHT ticket).

Every country seems to have their own system for doing things, and you may have to queue at multiple windows before you receive your ticket.

You may be approached be someone offering to sell you a ticket cheaply. Be wary of this, as they may be selling you an out of date ticket, or one to a place you don’t want to visit.

While it can be tempting to save money and travel in 3rd class (or whichever is the lowest class) carriage, its best avoided if possible (except on short journeys) as 3rd class carriages are often cramped, uncomfortable, dirty and noisy. In addition to this, keeping your bags safe is more difficult in 3rd class (especially when traveling solo) as there are people (i.e. potential thieves) everywhere. You might want to travel in economy so that you get a taste of what it’s like to be a local, but after 20 minutes you’ll no doubt be regretting the decision!

Boats

Traveling on a boat can be a really peaceful, relaxing time, but if you’re prone to seasickness than you could have a problem. If you do suffer from seasickness, be sure to take a remedy (such as Dramamine) with you, stay in the center of the boat (where there’s less rocking) and avoid looking at the waves.

Thai boatIt’s true that in most developed countries there’s almost always an alternative to taking the boat (i.e. flying, train, etc) but in some developing countries (such as Thailand) there are certain parts that you won’t be able to reach without jumping on a ferry.

Unfortunately, in some countries (such as the Philippines) some boats are extremely unreliable and potentially dangerous. Before boarding a boat in such a country, make sure it has plenty of lifejackets and make sure it looks like it won’t sink the minute you get out there.

In addition to this, some companies will try to get as many people as possible onto small boats, thus dangerously overloading them. If you suspect this might be the case of a boat you’re on, get off and take the next one once the crowd has gone.

Bicycles

Cycling is a great way to explore towns and cities and to get to those hard-to-reach areas where public transport doesn’t visit.

When cycling (particularly if you’re making a day of it), remember to bring lots of water with you (and money so you can buy more water later on). In addition to this, make sure to bring some kind of rain mac/light jacket with you in case the weather turns bad.

If you’re cycling to more deserted places, make sure to bring a puncture repair kit with you (or a mobile phone so you can call for help).

Don’t bring too much with you though, as it’s important to keep your load light (especially when cycling in hot weather or up and down hills).

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