Becoming a better problem solver when travelling: Transport

Welcome back to another post in my attempts to persuade you into travelling solo at least once! This week I want to talk about how many different forms of affordable (sorry helicopters) there are for us to get from A to B when we are visiting a country. But sometimes it is good to know more than just the methods you will use, knowing just the exact train times is handy, but things happen and it isn’t always possible to go with the original plan. That is what makes travelling so interesting! So, this is the first post in the series that touches upon the topic of how solo travel (but also just travel to be fair) will make you a better problem solver. But also help you realise that when things don’t go to your rigid or even rough plan, that you can work your way out of them, and that you will know it will be okay.

Trains and buses

These SHOULD run like clockwork, but if you are in the UK you will quickly know that this is not the case and delays are inevitable. You are going to be sprinting to the airport or a destination with your gear due to a bus or train being a million years late, it will happen and it is better now to accept that it will and we can prepare for it now.

When in Italy I was due to get a bus from a small town to another small town, but it was a Sunday and that meant that I only had 3 opportunities the entire DAY to get this bus, if I do not get this bus I will not be able to get my connecting train later on. So, I had to have everything packed and ready the night before, to the point where the only thing not in my backpack was some shower gel and my toothpaste and brush. I was almost tempted to sleep in the clothes in order to get up and out as quickly as possible. Time was not on my side as it was an early start. In the end, the bus left earlier than scheduled and I was cursing everyone and everything. But, I was prepared for this scenario as the night before after everything was packed I tried to work out a few things and one of those was, ‘what if I miss the bus?’ So the research began! I then found out there was another bus leaving the town and going to a different town than my connection. But crucially it had a train station with a stop that I could get on and connect to the train I wanted to, just a little further down the route. It would be a little tight, but as long as it left roughly on time I should make it.

The importance of a backup plan is very high, even if the original plan was made on the fly the day before I left. Have options as something in the transport or in general will go wrong and by thinking of a couple of scenarios I was able to get my train. I just got on it at a different train station than I originally intended!

You will learn that taxis are not the correct option financially

Taxis are known for being expensive, there is no way around that fact and this fact probably increases if the taxi driver realises you are not from the area (or even country) and they try to take advantage and drive you the long way to your destination. This then adds up and your funds can be wiped out pretty quickly if you take too many. Now I know not all taxi drivers do this, but I have experienced first-hand that some do. My tip is to know your route a little bit. Even if it is just on a quick map check before you get the taxi. Learn a little about the route you go so if you do notice the driver taking a slightly different way, you can query it and sometimes they will miraculously reroute themselves. When I was in Dublin (yes I know I live on the same island but I am not local) I noticed the driver going a different way from what I expected and when I called him out on it he asked me if I knew Dublin and when I said yes (totally lying) my total fare was reduced…

My other option of solving the problem that is taxies is to simply not to get one. Grab a tram, subway, or bus if you are in a big city. Unless you are truly stuck in a scenario, map out what you are doing that day and plan ahead for extra travel, be that walking or whatever. When I was in Milan, myself and my group from the Hostel practically lived in the subways, it got us about so easily and cheaply. See what public service options you have and consider them.

By doing a bit of thinking and a teeny tiny bit of research you should be able to find out which mode of transport is best within the city or town you are in.

Car

Funnily enough on my trips, I have not driven about and I do not think I will be driving about when I am in New York and Toronto next year either. I wish I was more a fan of driving, but here we are. Victoria is though… Haha. Anyway! I did hang out with people who were going to drive around and one big thing that really must be sorted before you go is to do some research into the companies if you haven’t pre-booked the vehicle before you leave. The lads I chatted to, did not have a clue and had none of the information required, so they wasted precious holiday time trying to work out how to get a car for their week around Iceland. If you are planning to spend a long time in the country, then sure take your time, but when you are limited to a week or even less, then you really have to have your ducks in order! I will update this section a bit more one day when I have a bit of driving experience on a holiday, but sadly I wouldn’t want to provide false information to you!

Hitchhiking (should be a last resort not a first and to just stay in budget!)

Not the most ideal of travelling options, but for sure one of the cheapest and most interesting! I hitchhiked a fair bit when I was in Iceland and honestly, I felt quite safe the entire time. I had heard stories from other travellers about local people taking them to little areas just so they can take photographs. I had this once or twice, but for the most part, I just encountered friendly people (I literally think everyone in Iceland is friendly after my month there) who would chat to you and provide local tips on where to go and what to do. Once or twice I got told to say that I knew the driver and I got some discount when getting food or some accommodation. If you are in a pickle hitchhiking can be an option… But…

It does have to be said that the reason I hitchhiked in the first place was that I had checked how safe it was in Iceland and because I was trying to be a bit cheap by not hiring out a car or camper van. If I had the budget I most likely would have gone for the camper van option. So while hitchhiking CAN be an option for you if you are somehow stuck and need to get out of a hole (there may be no buses for a certain amount of time etc), then give it a go. Otherwise, I would not suggest that you do it. You never really know who will pick you up and if you learn one thing from a trip is that you learn how to look after yourself and sense the dangers when they start to arrive. Ideally, you will go a whole trip with encountering zero risks and in some countries (if not all) hitchhiking is going to be a risk.

I knew Iceland would be relatively safe, I did not try to hitchhike in Italy because I had not heard the same. Plus with the wealth of transport options in Italy, I knew I had options such as the bus one I stated above! So, if there are options to you that do not involve hitching a ride, take them. Take them with both hands! Stay safe when travelling out there!

I think that will do us for today’s post. If you have any questions or tips for fellow travellers to leave them below. Until next time!

We are now at post number 5 and I am really pleased with how it has gone so far and I hope you are enjoying it too. To catch up on the other posts in the series, please see below!

If you want to chat more about any of my posts, please follow me on TwitterInstagramand Facebook to also receive updates. Until next time, thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon!

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