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1.6. Key advice about surface transportation

The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace

from The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World

and The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace

by Edward Hasbrouck


  • Don't plan on any means of surface travel -- or even assume it's poassible -- until you've carefully checked out conditions on the route, current services, and the rules for any border crossings or restricted areas. Lots of lines you could draw on maps don't correspond to feasible surface travel routes.
  • Don't try to convert distances into times without knowing something about local conditions and conveyances. Surface transportation in most of the world is slower, more difficult, and above all less reliable than in the First World.
  • For safety's sake, travel by train rather than by road when you have a choice. The biggest difference between rail and road travel is the greater safety of rail travel.
  • Never drive at night or take a night bus outside the First World if there is any alternative. Night road travel is overwhelmingly the most dangerous thing that ordinary travellers regularly do.
  • Treat the journey as part of the experience and the adventure, not as an interruption in your trip. Thinking of a trip by rail, road, or boat as just a way to get from point A point B is an excellent recipe for impatience and frustration.
  • Be prepared for surprises. Be prepared for delays. Be prepared to change your plans. Do your homework to get an idea of what to expect, but don't take schedules, prices, or other information in guidebooks are on the Internet as gospel. If you want things to be predictable, take a guided tour.
  • Don't punish yourself or take unnecessary risks just to earn a merit badge for hard traveling. Overland travel isn't usually an expedition, but it isn't usually a picnic either. There's no shame in going first class if you can afford it; most local people would think you crazy not to. Bad trips may make for good stories, but that doesn't mean they're fun while they're happening, or worth the discomfort or danger.

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