Friday, January 31, 2014

Travel by Land and Sea: Seat61, boat hitchhiking, and more

Every traveler appreciates the challenge of getting from point A to point B without flying in a plane. And unless you're going on an East African fly-in safari, there are some pretty good land and sea alternatives to traveling in the sky.

Travel by train

Long distance train travel can be very scenic and fun. Or terrifyingly bumpy, but still, an experience. Check out this video of one woman’s ride on the Tazara train from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia, below. Watch 1:15 to 1:30 for the bumpy part. is definitely the best website when it comes to train travel. It covers train info in every part of the world, with schedules, prices, route maps, and reviews by travelers who have done the trips. Does anyone want to do all of East Africa by train with me? Please?

For anyone with a crazy sense of adventure and an unlimited amount of time...

Tip: When booking trains in France, always check prices on the SNCF website in French – they’re usually much cheaper than the prices on the English version of the website.

An old Serbian train at the Belgrade station

Travel by water

Boat hitchhike. has a group called Boat Hitchhiking where people post long-distance boat rides wanted or available. Unfortunately most of the posts are for rides wanted. An alternative is to hang around major ports (such as in the South of France) for a few days or weeks asking around if you can join a trip.

If you have any sailing experience, there are tons of sites where skippers post trips they are going to make with advertisements for crew members needed. Expect to pay a bit for your share of food/supplies.

A Disney Cruise ship parked in the deep bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Take a cruise! Transatlantic cruises (i.e. Europe to the US) can be as cheap as $300 one-way, especially when they’re trying to fill up seats at the last minute. Ten days of entertainment, food, swimming pool, bar…why not? Also, you'll get to spend the day in some cool cities along the way. Again, Seat61 is a great site for looking up cruises.

Travel by Bus

Bus travel is almost always a cheap option throughout the world. In Europe, Eurolines is the main company and fares can be very low, especially for under-26 youths. I paid 12 Euros for a 5 hour ride from Bratislava to Prague, which included comfortable reclining seats, bottled water, and an on-board toilet. 

My 15-hour bus from Barcelona to Paris... woke up to some scary fog!

Long-distance bus travel in South America is also quite comfortable. In Brazil, buses often have one level for seats and the other for beds. Bus travel in Africa should be done with caution due to the high rates of road accidents.

A double-decker in Brazil

Travel by Car - carpooling
If you prefer to travel in a car but don't feel like renting one or driving one yourself, carpooling is an economically and environmentally friendly way to travel. Either make friends with people who are traveling by car, or sign up for a carpooling website, such as one of the following: