How do I prefer to travel?
Is “for free” an answer?
No? Okay, then. Let’s take a look and see what we’ve got here. There are two different ways to answer this question, the first is by looking at modes of transportation and the second is by looking at the travel experience itself.
Going by those criteria, it seems the first is easier to work with and as far as that goes, we can break it down even further – and you know, the more I think about it, the more complex it becomes. I mean, just looking at plane travel, we can run the gamut from high-end first class on a transcontinental flight to a 6-seater puddle-jumper to get you to a remote location…and that’s not even taking into account private jets. Of course, since I’ve never flown on a private jet I can probably jettison that one in particular.
But for the rest, I like plane travel since it generally means the destination is far enough away as to make quick travel necessary. Or at least to make getting there a bit easier. Sure, in Vegas there was the whole thing about it being quicker to drive than fly* but in general, flying is a great way to get where you’re going, it’s just not always the most comfortable. You’re crammed into a small seat, with no leg room and no place for your stuff. And that’s not even getting into the idea of security and surcharges for luggage. Even the cheap airlines aren’t that cheap when you look at what they’re charging extra for (and yes, this means this video gets shared again and I will not apologize for it!)
Anyway, flying is good but it’s not my preferred method. Given my druthers, staying on the ground is more fun. And yes, I’ve completely skipped over boats, but I’ll get to them in the next section. On the ground, though, while buses are okay, when it comes to more public transport, I prefer trains. You get the same views through the windows, but you also aren’t locked into your seat. The ability to wander the aisles, as well as copious amounts of leg room and width of the seats certainly give it the advantage. And if you’re traveling overnight, the option to get a sleeper is absolutely a must. Even if you don’t get the sleeper, dozing on a train is much more comfortable than in a bus. But I’ll get back to buses in a moment.
Overall, then, I’d say when it comes to modes of transportation, I like to be in charge of my own timetable and that means road trips. Give me a car or a motorcycle (depending on who I’m traveling with) and I’m good to go.
But this now moves me into the second part of the answer. Once you get past the how you get there, you get into the why are you going in the first place and what are you going to do once you’re there. For me, I like to have a destination in mind. I’m not great when it comes to just random travel. Yes, I’ve done it that way, and yes, it was an amazing experience, but I tend to have at least a little bit of a plan in mind. Doesn’t need to be much, but the doing it just to do it isn’t my strong suit. What I’m trying to say is I’m not a “journey is more important” kind of guy.
And when I travel, I like to wring the absolute most out of the experience. I know people for whom the idea ofvisiting tourist attractions is anathema. For them, the point of travel is to go to a local bar, meet local folks and have local conversations. I like and respect that concept, but it’s not for me. When Rasa and I went to Italy for a week a few years ago, we asked a friend of hers, who had done an Erasmus semester there, for recommendations. She recommended Bologna and we took her at her word. Thing is, she was recommending Bologna as a great party city for a university student, not for a couple interested in seeing historical sights.
Different strokes and all that.
When I travel, no matter how I get there, I like to see all the things on offer. When I do a road trip, I like being able to stop and see the “world’s largest ball of twine” or what have you. I like to do Hop On/Hop Off tours to get the lay of the land and note the places I want to go back to and explore more fully and the places I’m fine with just getting a picture as we drive by. When Rasa and I went to London in the fall of 2014, we bought a CityPass and made sure to get our full money’s worth out of it, often starting early in the morning and then passing out from sheer exhaustion late at night. But it works for us. I don’t think I’m as bad as the “blue rinse ladies shooting cameras from the hip” in Chris DeBurgh’s song “Tourist Attraction,” but I certainly like to make the most of my travels.
And that brings us back to boats and buses. With both of these forms of transport, you can have the added bonus of making a whole vacation out of it. I’ve done bus tours with Monika to both Poland and Latvia, which were a blast (and, if you speak Lithuanian, she’s a kick-ass tour guide!) but again, the downsides of bus travel creep up in there.
With boats, though, there’s a whole different mindset. A few years back, when the folks were here, we went to Stockholm for a day, via overnight ferry. So the boat was merely a mode of transportation (a nice one, but still) however, the main method of boat travel these days is via cruising, which is definitely NOT for everyone**, but I enjoy it – for what it is.
For me, cruising offers the best of all possible travel worlds – nice accommodations so you can unpack once and get settled and mostly great food served at your convenience. But then those accommodations move around, taking you to various locations where you can spend the day seeing the sights. Of course, you also have the option of just relaxing at the pool or by a window and watching the world go by.
And I haven’t even gotten into the differences between traveling alone, with a friend, with a romantic partner, and with kids, all of which have their own positives and negatives.
So, ultimately, I guess, for me, the thing is that I love travel, in all its many forms and variations. I love exploring the world and meeting new people and having new experiences. Bring it on.
Where are we going next?
*When you factor in airport waiting times and the like, it can actually be possible to drop someone at the airport in Vegas and pick them up in LA.