Transportation is a concern of every traveler, whether planning how to reach a destination or trying to hail a taxi. Numerous transportation options exist, ranging from one-way trips in a first-class jet to budget accommodation on a freighter.

General transportation subjects

By plane

General information

Travel by plane is often fasterwhen travelling very large distances, such as between continents, the difference is a choice between a day in transit flying versus several weeks any other wayand safer than other modes of transportation but it can be more expensive and generally involves dealing with security checks and baggage issues that travelers by bus or train might not have to face.

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Ticket buying

Purchasing airline tickets can involve a mind-numbing array of fare classes, date restrictions, and price options. Two travelers sitting next to one another on a plane have almost always paid different fares. Finding the best prices can be a challenge.

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Modes of travel

Airline travel varies from cramped economy cabins to large suites that may even offer a full-length bed. Prices vary according to class of service, but frequent flyer status and other methods offer ways of getting upgraded travel without the upgraded price.

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Round the world flights

Several airlines offer round-the-world flights, perfect for backpackers with a lot of time and a loose schedule. These flights offer travel to any location, provided the traveler is always moving east to west (or vice versa) and often limit the traveler to a maximum number of flights.

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Security issues

Airport security has become more strict in recent years and offers a host of hassles for travelers. Arriving at the airport in time to make it through security checks, carrying the proper documentation and avoiding transits through countries with strict security constraints are all considerations on a trip by air.

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General aviation

See also: General aviation

Travelling at the controls of a small plane as a private pilot can be one of the most fulfilling travel experiences possible. You get to see the world from a perspective entirely different from the ground or from commercial aviation. Most parts of the world have some form of general aviation; in Western countries such as the United States and Europe small airports are everywhere. Costs are somewhat higher than commercial airline seats; travel time is less than by car but usually somewhat more than by airline. On the other hand, when the costs of operating a light plane are shared between the pilot and passengers, it can be a surprisingly economical way of getting around. Becoming a pilot can take a significant amount of time and money, but most will agree the rewards are outstanding; for most travel pilots the journey is the reward.

A few business travellers fly aboard corporate aircraft, small planes owned by their employers. A helicopter is a necessity for offshore oil platform operators and some mining/resource firms.

Bush planes

A few small communities in remote locations (such as Alaska or the Canadian High Arctic) rely on small aircraft to bring supplies or postal service; often these are scheduled runs in small aircraft (like those used for charter service or general aviation, some may even be float planes which land at sea) to expensive-to-reach points far from the beaten path. The name stems from the "bush" meaning the sparsely populated areas in places like Africa and there are still some communities outside the arctic best or only reached by air, mostly in Australia and developing countries.

Air charter

Air charter is the official name for air taxi operations, for which national aviation regulators impose specific regulations for pilot qualifications and experience, safety, and maintenance.

Air charter companies fly point-to-point, at the time requested by hiring customers, so that customers don't need to wait in-line at major hub airports. Air charter companies often fly smaller aircraft with room for 3-9 (or more) passengers. Aircraft with more than 9 passengers start to fall into the "commuter" size range, subjecting them to extra requirements and costs. The new VLJ (very light jet) aircraft being delivered by Eclipse Aviation and others will typically seat 4-5 passengers, and offer a new set of choices for point-to-point flights.

By train

General information

Travel by rail often invokes a past era, with tracks winding through mountains and forests, comforts including dining cars and sleeper cabins, and other amenities not available to air and motor travelers.

While heritage of almost two hundred years can be found in Europe and some Asian countries (South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan) as well, the high speed trains, which beat cars hands down in terms of speed, have nothing nostalgic about them, but rather, they are cutting-edge technologies and the pride of their creators. Although the price of a ticket might reflect that, they are often not more expensive than flying (and may end up being cheaper than driving) on short (less than 1,000 km) routes and the experience of whisking through picturesque landscapes at more than 300 kilometers per hour (or 200 miles per hour) may well be worth the cost. As one famous slogan for one of the first high speed rail services said: flying at altitude zero. Just sit back and relax. Oh and the dining cars and even sleepers? They are still available for many high speed lines. High speed rail is also the safest mode of travel, as accidents on these lines are seen as a national disgrace in most countries and safety standards are tough.

Regardless of speed most trains around the world also offer more legroom than all but first class airline seats. Food (regardless whether cooked on board or from your lunch-box) also tastes better aboard a train, as the lower air pressure in planes affects your taste buds.

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By boat

Freighter travel

A less crowded, sometimes cheaper, alternative for crossing a sea or ocean, not using airplanes or commercial cruise ships or ferries. For more in-depth information see:

Yacht charter

Yacht chartering is the best kept secret in the holiday industry. It is where you hire a yacht (either a sailing yacht or a motor yacht) and sail in a different part of the world each year. As well as the flexibility it offers it can also be surprisingly excellent value for money, often working out cheaper than booking hotel rooms, especially if there are a good number of people going on holiday together. It also usually works out cheaper than owning your own yacht if you charter for up to six weeks a year. In order to charter a yacht you will need to demonstrate that you have a qualified skipper and at least one competent member of crew. if you are not able to supply your own skipper (this is known as "bare-boat charter") you can pay to have one supplied which is known as a "skippered" or "crewed" charter. Popular locations include Croatia, Greece, Seychelles, Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Whitsunday Islands.

Houseboat rental is an option in some regions, such as the Thousand Islands. See also Cruising on small craft.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships range in size from vessels holding a handful of passengers to floating cities that hold thousands of passengers and offer all of the amenities that one would expect of a luxury resort.

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All but essential to reach islands such as Ireland or Newfoundland which otherwise would only be accessible by air travel. Coastal ferries follow the shoreline to supply the most remote outposts, small coastal villages with no intercity road network.

By road


In some countries such as the United States a car is a nearly indispensable tool for travel. Cars allow flexibility in destination planning but require maintenance, insurance, and valid driving permits. They are also usually one of the more expensive modes of travel, all things considered.

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Hitchhiking is an inexpensive and sometimes dangerous way to get from one place to another. Hitchhiking has its own codes and rules, and can be an effective and enjoyable means of travel for some.

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Cycling trips can range from your daily commute or the ride to the grocer to adventures that last for months, with the cyclist using manpower to traverse the countryside. Some newer bicycles also offer assistance through an auxiliary electric motor, but on longer trips the recharging of the battery will almost certainly fall back on your muscle power, much like a hybrid car recharges its battery through recuperative breaking. While cycling can be frustrating in places that lack infrastructure for it, it can be a very rewarding way of seeing the landscape up close and getting you to places you would never have gotten to otherwise. City cycling offers a wider range than walking while still preserving the advantage of enabling you to stop and look around or enter any interesting pace you might find without having to look for parking.

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Bus travel

By no means the most glamorous or even the most comfortable way to get around, buses are often the cheapest option except walking, and indispensable in low income regions such as Central America or South East Asia. Almost any inhabited place on earth has some form of bus service either local or inter-city, either every five minutes or once a month. While the bus ride is usually not the thing you write home about, knowing how to get from A to B is the first thing you should consider when planning your trip. And for some the journey is indeed the destination and even a ride in a battered up old school-bus can be reason to travel all by itself. Whatever there may be to say against bus travel, it is for sure one of the best ways to meet the locals and start a conversation. Brush up on the local language(s) or print out a Phrasebook.

Motorcycle driving

Traveling by motorcycle enables you to enjoy the surroundings you travel through in at a completely different level than if you'd travel by car, while you can travel further and faster than on a regular bike.

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Useful books

Other transport topics

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