The pros and cons of popular ways to get about on your travels.
Urth HQ | AUSTRALIA
Travel is about getting from A to B and the amazing adventures you have along the way. But, what are the best ways to travel? Whether you opt for two wheels or four legs, we discuss the pros and cons of the most popular ways to reach your destination.
One of the best ways to travel and explore a place is by foot. Walking is great for the mind, body and environment . You can often discover things on foot that you might not see using other modes of transport. Even better, walking is free and you can go at your own pace. You can also plan your journey without being restricted by timetable schedules. Big cities and other compact locations are especially best explored by foot.
In fact, if you want to visit some out-of-the-way places, walking is often the only option. Take the 32km Thorsborne Trail on Australia’s Hinchinbrook Island. With no roads on this wilderness national park island, walking was the only way I could take in its natural splendours. Other places only reachable by foot include the Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan, Motuo in Tibet, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy and Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.
The obvious downside of using your legs to get around is you’re never going to get very far fast. But, some people have proved that you can travel the world by foot. One man took 11 years to do so.
Cycling is a green and healthy way to explore the great outdoors. It’s certainly one of my best ways to travel. Affordable bike rental places are widely available all over the world, so there’s no need to bring your own.
Holland is a great choice for flat route cycling, as is Provence in France. For those who like things more hilly, the adrenaline-fuelled hairpin bends of the Route des Grandes Alpes in France or The Death Road in Bolivia will put your pedalling power to the test. But, even ambling around on a bike makes for a convenient and cheap way to get to know a place. Vehicle-free locations are especially suited for exploring by bike if the terrain allows.
If you’ve got time on your hands, cycling is an exhilarating way to get about, as one man will testify. He spent five years, cycling around 50 countries, covering a whopping 50,000 kms.
For safe cycling, check that your bike is in good working order. It’s worth carrying a puncture repair kit with you in case you get a flat. If you’ve got a lot of gear to lug about, a pannier or rack bag will take the weight off your shoulders.
Motorbike or Moped
To get more miles under your belt and give your legs a rest from walking or cycling, exploring by moped or motorbike is hard to beat. In some cases, it’s the only way to go if tracks aren’t passable by car, such as in South East Asia or South America. The Long Way Round and Long Way Down TV series ignited a wider interest in travellers to journey by motorbike, with a 14.2% increase in sales of adventure touring motorbikes. Some reckon that if you’re going to tour the Great Ocean Road in Australia, Italy’s Amalfi Coast or America’s wild west, for example, the only way to do these justice is by motorbike.
Safety is a concern if you travel by motorbike or moped, however. So, make sure you’re properly kitted out, have the right insurance and your bike is in good nick. Driving in rain, snow or ice can be treacherous and pretty unpleasant, too. If you’re trying to keep things green and sustainable, fuel emissions are an issue, so consider an eco-friendly, electric model.
Car or 4WD
If you’re travelling long distances and bogged down by baggage, a car comes in really handy. And, if you’re not keen on getting wet or cold, travelling by car will suit you down to the ground. There are car rental locations all over the world, so it’s easy to hire one when on your travels. Just be sure to choose a reputable supplier. If the terrain gets rough, travelling by 4X4 makes sense. Or, if you’re travelling around Asia, consider renting a tuk-tuk to get about. A couple of guys even travelled around the world on one.
Some routes are just made for exploring by car. When travelling from San Diego to San Francisco via LA and the iconic Big Sur, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way than setting the car to cruise control and watching the Pacific views roll by.
The cost of car hire and petrol can quickly eat into your travel funds, however. And, it’s not the most planet-friendly option of getting around. Car emissions are one of the main causes of global warming. But, if you want motorised transport while maintaining a green conscience, there are some eco-friendly options to consider, such as low emission rentals or car sharing.
Travelling is often as much about the journey as the destination itself. Take the Orient Express or Trans-Siberian Express, for example. It’s the experience of these bucket-list-worthy journeys that most people hanker after, not the final destination. But, even if your journey by train isn’t as iconic, it’s still one of the best ways to travel. Affordable, cheap and quicker than driving, train journeys can make a rewarding experience. You’ll often pass through terrain you wouldn’t otherwise see by road. If you’re venturing around Europe, Interrailing is a good way to get around. One guy who travelled around the world without taking a single flight journeyed across 50 states in Europe by train in just three weeks.
Plus, you can relax and enjoy the scenery, letting the driver navigate the way. From an environmental standpoint, travelling by train is also planet-friendly.
Of course, a lot depends on where you go. Some places aren’t accessible by train or may have infrequent services that don’t fit in with your time schedules. In some poor, remote places, you could even end up sharing a cramped carriage with a menagerie of animals. But, hey, isn’t that all part of the travelling experience?
Travelling by horse invokes a sense of romance and nostalgia. So, if you feel like getting sentimental this is a good way to go. Some places suit this form of transport and let you experience life like the locals. Top places to explore by horse include Mongolia, Argentina, Georgia or Mexico. With experienced guides and horses, you could visit some tucked-away places that are hard to get to by other means. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could even travel some distance by horse, like explorer Isabella Bird who covered 3,000 miles by horseback across the Rocky Mountains in the 19th century.
If you’ve got the chance to get around by horse, it’s a novel thing to do. But, options might be limited in some places. Make sure you ride horses that look cared for and consider their welfare at all times.
Deciding the best ways to travel depends a lot on where you’re going and how much time you’ve got. It’s good to mix things up a bit so you can enjoy a wide range of experiences. Think about the environmental implications when making your travel choices. Go for the greenest and healthiest options with the least impact.