The transportation is one of the most important components of a trip. There are various types of transportation, by land, by air, by sea, and by various vehicles- from airplanes and trains to bicycles and tuk-tuk. While some of the transportation movements are just optional, without a need to buy tickets in advance or to make reservations, others are crucial for our travel. And here we will focus on these crucial movements that we can call basic transportation.
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What is basic transportation?
Shortly, this is the transportation that fixes your trip. Let’s say that you live in Europe or North America, and you want to go on a trip to Japan. You plan to explore Japan for two weeks. But first, you have to arrive in Japan, to enter the country from a certain point. Usually, this point is the capital Tokyo.
So, you have to arrange your trip to Tokyo, and in modern times it is almost only by air (unless you join a cruise that is arranged properly, so you can have these two weeks to explore the country).
In most cases, you have to buy your air ticket in advance. Yes, it is possible to buy it on the same day, but it would be much more expensive, or there would not be any free seats. So, you buy your ticket for a certain date, and if you back to your home after your Japan trip, your ticket should be a two-way ticket.
Fixation of a trip
Once you buy your two-ways ticket, your trip is fixed between certain dates. Everything you do in Japan should be placed within this period. This air transportation is your basic trip. If it fails, the whole of your trip can fail too.
Then, you plan your trip between the dates of arrival and departure. If you want to visit many places, you have to arrange your transport between the points. And you have to do it in such a way that you can enjoy enough time for every destination and to back to Tokyo on time.
Some of the trip sections can be easily arranged- you don’t need to buy tickets in advance- just go to the bus station and take the first available bus. This is when there are enough buses for the day (for example- every 20-30 min), so if you miss one bus, just wait for the next.
But in other cases, there can be only one or two buses per day, and if you miss it for some reason (arrive late, or no free seats), the whole next part of the trip has to be changed and adjusted accordingly, and sometimes it can seriously harm the whole trip. In such cases, you’d better buy a ticket in advance if possible. If you can’t do it, you have to plan your itinerary in а flexible way, so that an adjustment would not affect the rest of the trip.
This is basic transportation. And since it is crucial for your trip, it has to be planned carefully in advance. Yes, some people prefer just to go traveling without any plan, “following the wind”. It looks romantic, but unfortunately, in our modern world, there are too many obstacles for such a travel style, unless you have unlimited time to wander, you have enough money (for buying expensive air tickets at the last moment), or you have enough luck.
By air, by land, or by sea
I personally don’t like air travel. Not because I am afraid to fly. It is because for me not only the final destination is important, but also the way there. For me, it would be much more exciting if the world was like in the 19th century. You want to travel from Europe to Indonesia, and your only options are a ship (around Africa), or on land- on the first newly built railways, on foot, by horse, or by boat on rivers.
Such a trip would be very long, like an exciting expedition. On my way, I would watch how the whole geography gradually changes from Europe to the tropics of Indonesia. I would see all the countries in the middle, their culture and nature, and their people.
While in the past times, travelers were only thousands (and almost all of them were traders or on military expeditions), today they are tens, even hundreds of millions. But only a few of them would travel 100% on land, depending on the distance, on their time, money, local conditions, and even their bravery.
So, modern transportation is developed to serve the rest of the travelers- those who need to get to a certain distant destination quickly. That’s why the best and most developed way to travel to remote destinations is by air.
Travel by air
Traveling by air is used mainly for basic transportation, and for fixation of the trip. The main advantage of it is the speed- you need no more than 2-3 days to travel around the Earth by air. And the best use of fights is to go to a starting point of a route and to leave from its ending point if this route is too far from your home.
- It is fast. If you are focused only on the country you want to explore, and your time is limited, you can skip the distance between your home and the country that you are going to explore.
- It is expensive (but for long-distance usually cheaper than traveling on land).
- You can see too little of everything between the departure and arrival points.
So, traveling by air is the best option for starting and ending your trip, if it is too far. But definitely not the best, if you want to use it for domestic flights unless your goal is only the destinations and you are not interested in what is between them.
Travel by train
Railway transport can be very useful and exciting too. It is the fastest way to travel on land. Also, it is relatively comfortable- if you travel on a long-distance trip, you usually book a sleeping carriage. So, you have a bed to sleep in, you can sit, you can even walk inside the train.
- This is the fastest on-land type of transportation. And the modern bullet trains can reach almost half of the speed of airplanes.
- For long-distance, you can sleep, sit or walk, not just caught on a seat.
- It is cheaper than flights.
- It is still slower than flights.
- It is not very comfortable for some people, and sometimes not so clean.
Trains are also good as basic transportation if the country or other land (province, area) that you are going to explore is not too far, and of course, if it is on the same continent (except between Europe and Asia). They are also good for domestic transportation.
For short-distance trips, you usually don’t need to buy tickets in advance (however, in some countries, in certain seasons or days you need them!), but for long-distance and international railway trips you have to arrange them earlier.
Traveling by bus
Buses are some of the most commonly used public transport. They are a bit slower than the trains (I mean, a bit slower than the slow trains, and much slower than the bullet trains), and also they are less comfortable. Besides, they seldom travel on long-distance trips. But on the other side, there are more paved roads in the world than railways, and there are many destinations that are not reachable by plane or by train.
- By bus, you can reach more destinations than by train or by plane.
- Usually, you can’t use buses for too long-distance trips.
- They are less comfortable than trains.
Anyway, buses can be used as basic transportation, but mainly for the routes between the points inside a country (land or area) that you are going to explore. And as I mentioned above- some routes are highly saturated with buses, so you don’t need to buy a ticket in advance, but there can be only one or two buses for other routes that are crucial for your itinerary. In this case, you’d better buy a ticket in advance.
Traveling by car
Traveling by car is a great way of transportation too, but mainly for domestic routes, unless you make a long-distance expedition type of journey like “from coast to coast in the USA”, or “from London to Vladivostok by car”. In this case, you normally would use your own car.
But usually, you use car transportation for traveling between points of a domestic route. In other words, you arrive by plane or by train to a starting point of a country (land/area), rent a car from there, and travel on the whole route by this car, until you reach the ending point and return the car.
- It gives you full independence- you decide where to go, how fast to go, and where to stop for a rest.
- Driving a car makes it not so crucial for your journey- you don’t need to worry about schedules, but only for the other transportation that you would use after your return the car.
- It gives you privacy.
- It is still too slow for very long-distance trips, and if you do it anyway, you should have a very long holiday.
- You have more responsibility- safe driving, keeping the car without damage, etc.
In some countries, you can’t rent a car and drive on your own, unless you have a local driving license. So, in this case, the only option is to hire a local driver. This can make the trip a bit more expensive, and you would be not too independent. But on the other side, the local driver can be a good guide that takes you in the best ways to places that you would miss.
Finally, the price depends on how many people are in the car, so they can share all the expenses- rent, fuel, toll fees, parking, etc.
Traveling by ferry
This is a sea, lake, or river transport. In modern days, it is not used for long-distance sea trips- if you want to explore Japan with Tokyo as a starting point, leaving from the USA, you can’t take a ferry from San Francisco to Tokyo.
Instead, ferries are basic ways of domestic transportation between islands in archipelagos, or between the continent mainland and a nearby island. In some cases, you have to buy tickets in advance, but usually, you don’t need it- just go to the port, buy a ticket and go- like for a bus.
- The basic, fastest and safest way to travel between islands, or between the mainland and an island.
- Not always comfortable, especially for people with seasickness.
Other types of basic transportation
In general- the ways of transport described above are the most common to use for basic transportation. Besides them, many other ways are much slower, but sometimes very exciting and exotic- bicycle, motorcycle, tuk-tuk, tricycle, jeepney, horse riding, etc.
Some adventurous explorers use motorcycles or bicycles for long-distance journeys, and that’s great, but obviously, they are a minority. Most of the travelers would use these vehicles for local, domestic travel, and usually (except jeepneys and tricycles that are used like local buses), they would not be used as basic transportation. You just find such a vehicle, enjoy it nearby, then return it, and that’s all.
On the bodies of water- seas, lakes, and rivers, there are various kinds of private boats- mainly for basic domestic or just local optional transportation. Other types of transport that can be used for long-distance sea voyages are yachts, science, military, and cargo ships. They can be great basic transportation, but it is very difficult to book a trip with them unless you are in these circles.
Among the other types of transport, I would also mention the public city buses, sightseeing buses, city taxis (Uber, Grab, or another service), and metro. But as they are used only within a city, they are not basic transportation too. The most important thing about them is to be careful to not miss your important flight, train or bus due to traffic jams or other obstacles.
Basic transportation resources
As you can see, some of the basic transportation types of travel require booking in advance. Certain websites offer such a service. Some websites are global and for all types of transportation, other websites are local, or only for flights, for trains, for ferries, or for buses.
Finally, you can book tickets from the websites of the local companies. This can be convenient, but if you have to compare the prices and other conditions, you have to open many companies’ websites. Much more convenient would be to open a global website and compare the prices there, then you can still check if the price is the same on a local company’s website.
Global websites for all main types of transport
These are websites for the whole world, and for every type of transportation. Let’s see the most popular ones.
This is a great website that is focused mainly on destinations in Asia, but in fact, you can find transport options for the whole world. You can compare prices between flights, and between different types of transport, where available- flights, trains, buses, and ferries.
Bookaway is another great website that provides an even better quality of choices, compared to 12Go. It again presents options for every kind of bookable transportation. The main problem is that it currently doesn’t include all the countries in the world, but only some of them, mainly in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. And in some of these countries, it focuses only on some popular resorts. However, it is a fast-developing platform and its range is quickly growing.
This is a good platform for flights searching. Here you can find a lot of options with a comparison between different air companies. The website is well-arranged, easy, and convenient for searching. In addition, it also provides a search for hotels, car rentals, and packages.
Trip.com is one of the richest and most functional travel search platforms. It provides results about flights, trains, rental cars, tour packages, hotels, and important tourist information about various destinations and activities. It is based in the USA, but there are branches in other countries, like China, etc.
Aviasales is a Russian transportation platform, providing results about flights and hotels. It can find even more flights than CheapOair since it includes more air companies. Its main website is in Russian, but they have an English version too, and their partner for flight search is Jetradar, again only in English. In general, the quality of their service is good.
This is a great transportation searching platform, focused exclusively on flights, trains, and buses. In addition, it offers rental cars and hotels in partnership with the popular hotel search engine Booking.com. On their website, you can find useful information about various destinations in the world.
Momondo is another great transportation search platform that offers results about flights, trains, rental cars, as well as hotels and tour packages. It ranges the whole world, including a rich number of companies and properties. In Momondo you can also read more information about various destinations that the platform can find transportation to.
This is another excellent transportation search platform, including not only searching for flights, but also hotels, rental cars, and combinations of these. As its name suggests, it first shows the cheapest flight options. And again, it provides a lot of choices, since it works with more than 300 partners (air companies, hotels, travel platforms, etc.).
Rental Car platforms
Most of the above platforms offer rental cars, but there are specialized platforms that are focused primarily on this type of travel, and the options that they provide are much richer. So, let’s take a look at the best ones.
This is the best rental car platform, with the richest number of choices. It finds rental car options all over the world. Yes, the choices are limited in some countries that require a local driving license (like China and Vietnam), but everywhere else you have plenty of options. It also includes results from other rental car platforms and companies.
Other rental car platforms
There are a lot of other rental car search platforms that can provide a lot of choices, but usually less than Rental Cars. However, the good quality ones provide good quality cars and services, excluding options that could ruin your trip. Here are the best of them:
Now, let’s see some local transportation websites that provide transportation options in a particular area.
Local transportation websites
These platforms are focused on a specific country, continent, or area. For example- there are transportation platforms only for Europe, only for the USA, only for China, or only for Malaysia (and partially some neighboring countries in Southeast Asia). There are a lot of local platforms, but let’s see some examples below.
Eurail is a great platform for railway transportations. However, its purpose is not to provide tickets. Instead, it provides railway passes- whole railway trips that include more than one train. So, it is the best choice if you want to travel around Europe by train. The passes include all the countries in Europe, except Albania, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the European part of Russia.
If you anyway prefer just to buy a normal train ticket from station A to station B around Europe, Rail Europe is a better choice. Also, Rail Europe includes more cities and railway stations- not only in Europe but even in the Asian part of Russia and Turkey.
First Choice is a British transportation transportation platform, oriented mainly for UK domestic and international flights from the UK to most of the countries in the world. Besides, it also offer search for hotels and for holiday packs. A great website for British families looking for trips in their country and abroad.
This is a good and quickly growing platform for bus tickets, not only inside the EU but also to other non-EU countries in Europe. You can find buses between two cities in the same country, or international routes within Europe.
This is the same as Eurail, but for Japan. If you want to explore Japan, from here you can buy a railway pass- a whole train trip around the country. You can start and end your trip from Tokyo, using this railway pass.
Bus Online Ticket
This is the best transportation platform for Malaysia and Singapore. From here, you can book your bus, train, tour, or packages of on-land transportation combined with a hotel or ferry to a nearby island. It also includes the nearby key destinations in Thailand that are connected to Malaysia.
Finally, a transportation platform for China. Here you can find a lot of hotels, flights, trains, buses, and attraction entrance tickets around the whole of China, many of which cannot be found anywhere else but can be crucial for your trip around this country. The main problem is: it is only in Chinese! Unless you don’t know Chinese, the only option is to translate it automatically by Google Translate.
These are only examples of local transportation platforms. But if you go to a new country and don’t know their local platforms for transportation, you can always use the global platforms. Again, basic transportation is very important, so these platforms can help you arrange your tickets without the need to go to a travel company, railway station or other places, but just from home.
Check some travel books about planning a trip!
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.