Types of Gap Year Transport

How to get there and around

Once you’ve had a think about why you want to take a gap year, and in turn where you want to go, the next step is to consider how you’re going to do it and what types of transport you’ll need.

This stage can be broken down into two parts: transport to your chosen destinations, and transport around them once you’re there.

In terms of getting there, if you are travelling long haul and to two or more continents – for example, from London to Sydney to Los Angeles back to London – you’ll need to purchase a round the world flight ticket.

In terms of getting around, you have a choice between using local transport, like bus and train networks; travelling independently, like in a campervan; or travelling with a group on an organised tour. Most people end up doing a mixture of all three.

It’s also important to bear in mind that transport will take a chunk of your budget, so make sure you have at least a vague plan of what you’ll be doing and seeing, and set aside money accordingly. Of course, there is no need to plan your travel within a destination down to granular detail (one of the most exciting things about travelling is being spontaneous) but you should have a rough idea.

Round the world tickets

For any kind of multi-destination long haul trip, you’ll most likely need a round the world ticket. Also known as a multi-stop flight ticket, these single tickets cover you for anything between three and 15 flights. They are usually valid for a year from the date of your first flight and are a MUCH cheaper option than buying separate tickets for each flight.

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InterRailing in Europe

InterRailing is a cheap and fun way to travel by train through a number of countries in Europe in a single trip. There are two types of pass: the One Country Pass and the Global Pass. The One Country Pass allows you to explore a single country in depth, while the Global Pass allows you to explore multiple countries on a single trip. The Global Pass is the most popular and prices start at less than £200. If you’re aged 27 or under, you can get a big discount!

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Check out these round the world tickets

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Cookin’ Up a Storm

from £1233

From 30 days

Cook Islands, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United State...

This deal has it all. America, a Pacific Island chain, the country with officially the world's most beautiful sight and...

Volcano Surfing & Southern Skiing

from £1945

14 - 360 days

Australia, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Nicaragua...

A real flight deal for the intrepid gappers out there. Start off in Nicaragua for some volcano surfing, before heading...

The Next Adventure

from £1675

21 - 360 days

Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, South A...

Travel from the plains of South Africa to the bustle of Singapore and then on to beautiful New Zealand before...

The World Escape

from £1579

From 30 days

Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United ...

The best way to see North America and maybe even squeeze in a ski season, before heading to Australia to...

Pure Pacific

from £1295

From 30 days

Cook Islands, New Zealand, United States of Americ...

The quickest and best way to get to New Zealand just happens to be via the Cook Islands. Why not...

The Southern Explorer

from £3405

From 30 days

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Peru, ...

Visit mysterious Easter Island, idyllic Tahiti, explore South America, experience the wonderfully different world that is Japan before finishing up...

Trans-Siberian Adventure

from £1099

30 days

China, Japan, Russia

Ever fancied doing the Trans-Siberian railway? Well, this is your chance. These flights are the perfect way to do that...

Shanghai to Sydney

from £729

From 30 days

Australia, China

Take advantage of China's recently expanded 72 hour visa-free transit quota on your way and explore Shanghai before taking in...

The Ultimate Roadtripper

from £1899

21 - 360 days

Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, Unite...

Head overland from Nairobi to Jo'burg, Cairns to Sydney and Los Angeles to New York. We've basically put together all...

Essential African Overlander

from £860

14 - 120 days

Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia

There's really only one way to explore Africa - overland. The place was pretty much invented for it. So, we've...

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China Real Food Adventure

from £1715

Welcome to enigmatic China, where culture, history and cuisine all combine to create a truly mesmerising travel experience. Taste the...

Beijing to St Petersburg

from £3530

Big, bigger, biggest! Travel from the world’s greatest wall, along the world’s longest railway line, through the world’s largest nation,...

Antarctic Explorer: From Buenos Aires 11 days

from £7555

Experience an adventure tour of Antarctica and explore the unique conditions at the end of the Earth. Embark from Ushuaia,...

Iran – Discover Persia

from £1818

Follow in pilgrims' footsteps and explore the history of old Persia and the spirit of the new Iran. Discover magnificent...

Stars & Stripes

from £2280

O say, can you see? You'll see it all and more on this epic trip in the USA. After experiencing...

Classic China & Yunnan Express

If you’re looking for both the main highlights of China plus a little something out of the way, this is...

Myanmar (Burma) Sailing Adventure ex Phuket

from £1660

Departing from Phuket, discover Burma on an Intrepid sailing adventure and dive into an aquatic playground that is truly one...

Classic Cambodia

from £735

Combining the magnificence of the Khmer Empire with lively Phnom Penh, this introduction to Cambodia is the perfect way to...

Cape Town to Vic Falls

from £1870

Get set for an adventure packed with majestic wildlife, remote desert landscapes, noble tribespeople and natural wonders. From the stunning...

Southern Africa Encompassed

from £1461

When it comes to raw, in-your-face wildness, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are incredible – and from the vantage of...

Travel articles about using transport abroad

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In-location transport

Once you’ve bought your main flights, you’ll need to have a rough idea of how you’re going to move around the countries you’re visiting. Local transport will differ according to what part of the world you are in. An overnight bus journey from the south to north of Thailand, for example, is a whole different experience to taking the bullet train in Japan!

The other thing to consider is how independent you want to be, and again this will depend to some extent on the country. For example, in New Zealand, many people choose to explore by campervan, whereas in somewhere like Laos this wouldn’t really be possible. However you travel, try to use the local transport at least once in whatever country you’re in: it gives an insight into how that place runs day to day, and can be quite an adventure in itself!

Travelling by bus

Buses are the stalwarts of backpacker transport and you just cannot avoid them, even if you want to! They are the one type of vehicle that are used pretty much the world over, from Vietnam to Venezuela, and are often the best and safest option for cheap, long distance transport.

They’re rarely comfortable and rarely pretty, but they will get you from A to B, and sometimes that’s all you need. In developing countries, buses fall into two categories: local buses and tourist buses. The latter are a bit more expensive but usually much more comfortable and fast, not to mention easier to book.  You think the language barrier is stressful when ordering food in a restaurant? Try dealing with it when you’re trying to catch a local bus from Kathmandu to Tibet.

Local buses are, as the name suggests, primarily used by local people, and often their livestock, depending on the country.

In wealthier countries, like the USA and Australia companies like Greyhound and Firefly operate long distance bus journeys, which are a common way for backpackers to get around.

Travelling by train

Trains are just awesome. They are the most exciting form of transport and always will be. As with any land transport, you get to actually see the region you’re travelling through. There is plenty of space to walk around and stretch your legs. The toilets are usually tolerable, or at least useable, unlike on buses. Trains are also the best way to travel overnight, as most that run through the night have sleeper compartments, particularly in India and China. Lastly, they are a really eco-friendly way to travel.

Domestic flights

If you are on a tight schedule and need to cover lots of distance fast, domestic flights can be a great option. They can usually be picked up very cheaply – often cheaper than the land alternative – as competition between short haul airlines is fierce. Unlike round the world flight tickets, which are complicated and best organised by an expert travel agent, single flight tickets within a country are easy to purchase online yourself. Sometimes, you’ll just feel a bit fed up and jaded with overland travel, and planes offer a welcome break from this.

Taxis and tuk tuks

When you’re exploring a specific place, like a city, you’ll need to use localised transport. What this transport looks like will depend on where you are. In cities in South East Asia and India, for example, you’ll most likely find yourself buzzing through the streets in a tuk-tuk at some point. While they initially appear to be a deathtrap, they are actually really good fun, and cheap!

For a slightly more comfortable and safer ride, you’ll find taxis on pretty much any settlement on the planet. Often, drivers will refuse to use the meter, so it’s important to pre agree on a price you are both happy with before you set off. This helps you to avoid those unpleasant encounters at the end of the ride, where the driver demands an obscene amount of money, but you can’t pay it because you need to eat for the next week.

Campervans and cars

Campervans and cars are perfect for Westernised places, like Australia and the USA, which are HUGE and full of amazing locations that can’t be reached by trains or buses. Having your own transport on your gap year gives you a wonderful feeling of independence. You become your own tour guide, deciding exactly where you’re going and when, and how long you’re going to stay.

One thing to remember is to budget for fuel. Some countries will be cheaper than others, but the cost can really jump up in remote areas, like the Australian Outback. Oh, and insurance is absolutely essential.

Organised tours

Looking at all the above… that’s quite a lot to take in, right? Well, you could just forget about all of that, and book yourself onto a tour. Backpacker tours on a gap year are awesome for so many reasons. There are literally thousands of options all over the world with some truly incredible companies, covering pretty much any experience imaginable. One of the best things about being on a tour is simply not having to think about anything logistical, like transport and accommodation. You can literally sit back and enjoy the experience without a care in the world, with a bunch of likeminded people.

Boats

If you want to visit those splodges of paradise commonly known as the Thai islands, or the Whitsundays in Australia, or anywhere else inaccessible by land, you’ll need to take a boat. The cost of boat transport will depend on the country, but it’s usually pretty safe where ever you are, which is the important thing. It’s unusual to travel long distance on a boat (unless you’re on a cruise, obviously), and you can usually organise this type of transport without too much planning.

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