Transport will take quite a bit of your budget, although once you’ve set down the initial flight travelling within an area doesn’t have to be too expensive (if you’re heading to the likes of South East Asia that is). You don’t need to plan all your travel before you leave but it pays to be informed on what’s available for when the time comes. The one thing you definitely will need though is your flight there...
If you’re planning on going away for an extended length of time you should book a round-the-world ticket as it’s your cheapest and most flexible option. Point to point tickets where you just fly, for example, from London to Bangkok and then book onto India and Sydney and home will end up costing a lot more. Pick a few destinations that you definitely want to go to and phone a member of Gap Year Travel to find out how you can weave them all together. Some tickets have mileage limitations, but the tickets generally aren’t much more expensive than return flights to Australia, and you’ll get a fair few stop offs.
Just to give you an idea here’s what a popular gap year route looks like – they start from around £1000-£1500...
- London > LA > Auckland (make your own way to) Christchurch > Hong Kong > London
- London > LA > Auckland > Tahiti > Tokyo > London
- London > Singapore > Sydney (make your own way to) Brisbane > Nadi > LA (make your own way to) New York > London
Getting around by train
Interrailing and popular train routes
Once you’ve got your flights booked to cover the huge distances you can start zooming in and focusing on booking your train travel to cover the short ones. If you’re travelling around Europe Interrail passes make a lot of sense, you won’t have to worry about getting around when you’re out there and it’s a really cost effective way of getting around. You’ll get unlimited travel around mainland Europe, and to give you an idea 30 days costs around £329. Perfect if you want to pack in as many countries as possible.
If you’re planning some train travel in the USA Amtrak is the main provider. You can get a 15-day pass for $429 (£270).
Other popular train routes you may want to plan into your trip include the Trans-Siberian Express – from London to Cologne to Moscow and into Beijing – which will cost around £700 plus visas. The Ghan in Australia is also hugely popular with trains leaving Adelaide and travelling the 3000km+ to get to Darwin and vice versa. For $647 (£378) you can take residence in a Red Service Daynighter seat and even stop off at Alice Springs to check it out too.
Plan your trip around train travel and you’ll get to take in lots of beautiful scenery from the comfort of your seat, quickly.
Getting around by boat
Cruising, ferries and rowboats
Boats are an awesome way to see the world. They’re mostly an eco-friendly way of exploring, and thanks to water, they’re everywhere! I’ll start with the beasts of cruise ships right down to the pedalo, I know which one I prefer...
Obviously there are some very different boats out there. You may think huge cruise ships carrying thousands from island to island are more your mum and dad than you, but gap years are all about finding new and exciting ways to experience life, so give it a go. They’ll seem crazy expensive in the Western world, but head East and you may be able to afford a few nights on a big cruise ship, we don’t want to pry into your finances.
Next up in the massive boats spectrum are all those boats in between – ferries mainly. They can be really useful when you’re travelling on a budget with a little time to spare. One gapper needed to get from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam – the ferry was the answer. Another wanted to get from Italy to Croatia, quickly, a ferry from Ancona to Zadar sorted her right out. If water separates you from your destination and you can’t walk on it – ask around to find the best way across. Boats can be easily forgotten.
Some of the most popular gapper boat trips out there include:
- Halong Bay Cruise, Vietnam – takes you to beautiful limestone cliffs and the Cave of Wonders.
- Milford Sound, New Zealand – a popular fjord on the South Island that takes you around incredible mountains and awesome valleys.
- Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – great opportunity to swim with sea lions, see penguins and stand next to a blue-footed booby.
You can also find great trips down the Nile, the Amazon, Kerala and Antarctica – although you’ll need to stretch your backpacker budget for that one.
If you’re thinking of travelling by boat on a smaller scale, you can always find a great, eye-opening trip down at the local river. Depending on where you are the prices may be different. But we know for a fact that in Vietnam for example you can just pop down to the Mekong Delta and pick up a boat trip for very cheap. Try to use local vendors where possible as otherwise your money will line the pocket of some fat cat who doesn’t need it. Row boats are a great way to get around – and totally eco friendly.
Lastly pedalos and kayaks: burn off a few calories and make your way down the local river at your own pace. Thanks to the size of your boat you can easily quickly change direction and zip the other way if you see something you like. Travelling by pedalo or kayak on your gap year is a great way to see wildlife and experience the destination at a more relaxed pace, depending on how good your rowing skills are.
Getting around by bus
International, national and overlanding
Buses are another great and more eco friendly option than flying. They obviously take longer than trains and planes but they’re the perfect solution for shorter distances and many offer a hop on-hop off service. One of the best of these is found in South Africa linking up Cape Town and Johannesburg via a few stops along the coast. On the Baz bus you can pay a fixed fee (around £200) and then hop on and off the bus as you fancy over no fixed period – they’ll even drop you straight to your hostel door.
Buses in the USA can be great value too, provided you book well in advance. The Megabus service runs in most cities and you can get certain routes for just $1 (60p). If you're travelling around Europe leisurely buses can be a much cheaper alternative to trains, and you'll actually get to see some of the countryside rather than whizzing by on the rails. Check out the National Express and Eurolines early for some top deals.
Some destinations, like Tanzania or India, are also perfect for overlanding. It's a great way to access difficult to reach destinations and navigate crazy roads and terrain. Check out our overlanding guide for more information.
Getting around by car
Rental cars, buying cars, campervanning
It depends on where you are as to whether hiring a car is a good idea or not. Ask around at your hostel to see what your fellow backpackers say, and listen out for any horror stories. These could include any or all of the following:
- Being accused of damaging the car when it was returned, when you haven’t.
- Companies asking for an unnecessary downpayment, never to be returned.
- Your car is ‘stolen’ – somehow you don’t believe this.
- You can’t get used to the crazy drivers on the roads in a different country.
- Companies give you a car unfit for the roads.
This is rare, but is it worth it? You can avoid rogue car rental companies all together by joining backpacker tours and using public transport. It also means you can concentrate on the scenery and chilling out rather than the roads.
Of course there are some destinations where the whole point is to hire a car or campervan and cruise your way around – the USA and Australia for starters. Just make sure you’re using a reputable company with excellent recommendations and always do a reccy of the car before you agree to hire that particular one. Take photos and point any pre-existing damage out before you leave. Check the oil and petrol levels too. It makes sense to cover all bases so you can just relax and enjoy the trip.
If you're in a country long term - doing your Working Holiday Visa in Oz for example - you may want to buy a car instead. Just make sure you do all the usual background checks that you would at home and before you drive it anywhere get it checked at a garage for safety.
Hitchhiking comes under many names. Thumbing, tramping, hitching, or thumbing up a ride. It's a very different way to get from A to B and it's a very different way to have an adventure.
If you're looking to get around then we've got a fantastic guide on hitchhiking, titled The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Enjoy!
Idea of the Month
Idea of the Week
Darren is our country expert for Germany. He likes the country so much he lives there, and he's not even German...
Darren has travelled around the world and after a short stint back in Scotland he decided to move to Germany. Like a true backpacker he took to the country with zeal and has explored all that it has to offer, which helped him in writing this guide to Germany - give it a read. You won't be disappointed...