The Delights of Traveling: Picking the best way to travel
Tripadvisor. Skyscanner. AirAsia. What do these words have in common? They are the most common websites travelers look through when they are trying to find cheap flights around the world. However, what if I told you that there are other ways to travel around the world? A cheaper way even.
Before I started traveling, I had no idea that there were other ways of other inexpensive ways than taking flights and as most people know, transportation is generally the most expensive thing that we have to pay for when we are backpacking. Since I have spent quite a bit of time in Southeast Asia, I have found that the best way to get around especially when you don't have a fixed timed frame of traveling is taking the bus. easybook.com and redbus.com are two websites where people can find cheap bus trips through a country and to get from one country to another. When I was traveling Malaysia, I used buses to get everywhere. For example, to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang which is one of the most northern cities in Malaysia, is on average around RM 35 ($8.50) which was crazy to me because coming from the States, I was so used to buses being pretty expensive. There are some pretty awesome sleeper buses as well around Southeast Asia where instead of a seat that reclines, it is a full-on bed which is a pretty awesome experience.
Another way to travel around Southeast Asia is by ferry. Ferries are usually the most common way to get from mainland to the islands, the issue sometimes is that they can be a bit more expensive and less time consuming than flights so people opt for the flights. But if you are like me, a person who doesn't have a set time frame to travel, you don't mind the extra time it takes to get the ferry, all you need to do is check the prices. For example, when you are traveling Malaysia and you want to head over to Langkawi, you have two options; you can either take the ferry straight from Penang, but that costs about 70 RM ($17.50) one way when a flight can be around 20 RM ($5) less or you can take a bus to Kuala Besut, which is pretty much one of the most northern cities in Malaysia and take the ferry from there to Langkawi for only RM 18. Not only are there ferries to get from mainland to islands nowadays however; there are also ferries that can get you from country to country. My ex and I decided that we were going to take the ferry from Malaysia to Indonesia because we had heard that that was possible and because we hadn't planned anything until the last minute, the flights were pretty expensive at the time and the ferry was about 140 RM ($25) so it seemed like a pretty great option to try. It is a bit difficult to google how to get the ferry though as we figured out because a lot of posts that we found were from a couple years ago but fret not! The ferries do still exist. From that moment we realized that you can actually take ferries to a lot of different countries in Southeast Asia.
Trains seem to be another way for people to travel. Depending on where you are, the trains can range in quality. There are local trains that aren't too bad to be completely honest; fully air-conditioned, nice comfortable seats, etc. There are also sleeper trains that not only have seats that are quite comfortable for the long journey, but there are also beds in certain sections so that you can fully relax on your trip.
There are two types of trains to get from Malaysia to Thailand; you can take the ETS Komuter train from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar and you can choose between Platinum, Gold, or regular or you and take the Eastern and Oriental train that does direct from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok.
However, from the googling that I have done, the Eastern and Oriental trains only start running again from September 2019.
Buses, trains, and flights still seem to be pretty conventional ways to travel. Can you guys think of any other ways to travel? I have met people that have definitely gotten very creative with how they travel. I met 4 people a couple years ago that bought a Tuk Tuk in Thailand and traveled Southeast Asia in it and when they were done, they sold it back. It was actually cheaper for them to do that because there were a few of them than having to pay for bus and flight tickets everywhere. I also met a few people that bought motorbikes in Vietnam and traveled with them as well. It is pretty common to find people in Vietnam that travel north to south with motorbikes, but I had never met anyone who actually took them out of the country.
Hitchhiking also seems to be a pretty common way of traveling nowadays. People have actually made challenges for themselves to see how far they can get to without having to take a flight or a bus anywhere. I met an English guy last year who had hitchhiked all the way from England through mainland Europe and Asia to get to Southeast Asia and actually found a way to get to Australia through hitchhiking. My ex-boyfriend has done the same thing as well, hitchhiking from Germany all the way to Malaysia and then took a flight to Korea. The only problem with hitchhiking is that you need to be very careful where and how you do it. For men it is quite a bit safer to hitchhike because it is not common for people to take advantage but as a woman, you need to be very careful who and how you do it.
Ultimately, no matter how you travel, the important thing is that you are getting out there to see the world. You may be traveling on a budget or you may have a time crunch, but figure out your best way to travel and get out there!