A feature of our gap year has been the wide range of travel. There’s the flights of course, most on our round-the-world tickets, and others added, liked the ones in Australia, to reduce the domestic miles. But also: trains, ferries, hired vehicles, and long-distance buses.
For our journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, we went by bus – rather than flying – as we wanted to stop-off at the port city of Melaka. It was a drizzly 8am departure from Orchard Road and we crossed the Tuas border causeway about an hour later. For the three hour journey through Malaysia, sitting in the front seats upstairs, we had a perfect view of all the palm plantations.
So here are some thoughts about choosing the right mode of travel for any particular section of your gap year…..
- To save time covering long distances there’s no alternative to additional flights. We used Expedia.com to find the cheapest options from north to south Chile, around Australia and to travel from Hong Kong to Bali. Remember, to check-in your baggage on these low-cost routes will often cost extra, but with both our backpacks well under 10kg, it wasn’t too bad.
- The use of trains depends very much on the country. In China and Japan they are fast, incredibly efficient and great value for money; in Japan don’t forget to buy in advance the railway tourist pass. But most countries we travelled through, including incredibly the USA, simply didn’t have a railway system that’s fit for purpose.
- Often luxury coaches rather than old-fashioned bone-shakers, buses are the best option in South America and much of south east Asia, especially if you want to get a feel of the landscape. Given limited seats on many routes, we found it best to book our bus out as soon as we arrived in any town.
- Use hire cars when public transport is limited and there’s much to visit out of town. For instance, in the USA and Hawaii there really wasn’t any alternative to hiring a car. Explore one-way routings, check insurance issues carefully, make sure it includes collision damage waiver, and of course in Australia enjoy the camper van experience. But do recognise, the downside of all the convenience and mobility of a car is feeling cut off from the locals.
This is one of our occasional tips for middle aged gap year travellers. To see the others, click below on the link – Travel Tips