Plane, car, bus, train. During my two years in Australia I have used them all as a way of traveling and getting around. I want to share my personal opinion with you guys and show the advantages and disadvantages of all of them. Of course, it strongly depends on your plans, which way of transportation is the best for you. It also depends on where you are and where you want to go to. And clearly, as always, on your budget. Now, I can only speak of Australia, but this should apply to the most countries you’re traveling in. Of course, there are some exceptions, in India for example, the most popular way of getting around is by scooter. I hope my experience can give you an overview of the possibilities of transportation during your travels. Maybe it can even help you with your decision. So let’s get started!
I haven’t been flying a lot during my Work & Travel. Obviously, I took a plane to fly from Germany to Australia, I mean, it would have been difficult to drive over there… I bought tickets for domestic flights three times. From Cairns to Brisbane, from Cairns to Adelaide and from the Gold Coast to Sydney. Two times it was because of work, I had to get from A to B quickly. The flight to Sydney, I took a couple of days before coming back home. So, in all three cases I didn’t have a lot of time. I avoided flights most of the time, because I wanted to see as much as possible and it’s way more fun to do road trips. But if you need to get somewhere quickly and don’t mind missing what’s on the way, planes are a great way of getting around. Especially, because domestic flights are not that expensive. JetStar or TigerAir are good low-budget airlines in Australia, also having promotions from time to time. Always check your options, prices vary daily. Also, don’t forget to check the luggage policy as you might have to book extra luggage.
During two years, I took a long distance train ride only one time. It was from Moree, around six hours west of Brisbane, to Melbourne. A distance of around 1.200km, which would have taken me around 5 hours with plane (with 1 stop). Because Moree is a really small town in the Outback, the flights from there are really expensive, so I was looking for alternatives. I found a train ticket for around 120$. I always like to try out new things and make new experiences, so before I knew it, I was sitting in the train on my way to Melbourne. Let me tell you, it wasn’t bad at all. You don’t have to book extra luggage, the seats are quite comfortable and you see the landscape you are driving through. I saw some really nice forest landscapes and passed some cool bridges. You don’t have to arrive two hours prior departure and have to go through security checks. You can bring your own food and even have some breaks along the way, to have a smoke for example. It took around 23 hours to arrive, which in the end is not as bad as it sounds. But if I had to say something negative about this train journey, you could say it’s the longer travel time. As you can see, the train has a lot a advantages in contrary to plane travel. To me, this was the best way to get from A to B, considering where I was, where I wanted to go and when I wanted to be at my destination. Taking the train instead of the plane saved me hundreds of dollars. And it was really not bad. I wouldn’t hesitate to it again at all. Taking the train is an alternative worth considering.
I would say the bus was my second most often way of getting around. The two biggest companies offering long-distance bus rides are Greyhound and Premier. The difference being the features and the price. The Greyhound has better seats, free Wi-Fi and USB-charging. The overall appearance is new and modern, which also results in a higher price. The first time I saw a Premier bus, it reminded me of one of these old tuk tuk buses from India. The models are quite old and you don’t have any of the features I mentioned before. It has a toilet, seats and it drives. It can get quite warm on hot days, whereas the Greyhound has a strong aircon, so be sure to bring a hoodie. Also, it sometimes smells funny inside a Premier. In the end, it can save you some dollars. You have to decide, what is more important to you, saving money or a having a comfortable ride. Personally, I have always tried to get into a Greyhound, but I did compare both options all the time. If the Greyhound was only little bit more expensive, I allowed myself the fancy bus ride. If the ride only took a short amount of time and the difference in price was bigger, I went with Premier. You don’t have to book extra luggage, except you have some special parts, like a bicycle. You can bring your own food, but please don’t bring anything smelly (cheese, fish). I had that one time and it was horrible! (It wasn’t me, in case you’re wondering) If the bus isn’t too crowded, use two seats to have a good sleep. There are some stops along the way for a smoke, to walk around or to buy some food. You can talk to people or you can just listen to some music and be on your own, whatever you prefer. There is also the option to buy hop-on hop-off passes, which allow you to get out and get in at any location along the way. It gives you more freedom, for example, if you like a place and want to check it out for a couple of days, you can stay there and get on the next bus, whenever you want to continue your journey. Normally, those passes are valid for up to 3 months. The bus is always a good opportunity to look into, not only offering rides from A to B, but also offering various other options giving you more freedom.
My favorite way of traveling! The car. It gives you the ultimate freedom. You can go where you want, when you want, with whom you want. You can stay at places you like along the way longer. You are able to change plans and go in a different direction. You can make a lot of stops or you can directly drive to your destination. Although it gives you so much freedom, you also need to have quite some money. First of all, you need to get a roadworthy certificate for your car. You need to get your car inspected from a licensed vehicle tester, which costs around $70. Then you need to buy insurance and registration for a period of a quarter year, half a year or one year. The price for a year for both is around the $700 mark. These are the fixed costs you need cover for your car to be allowed on the streets. The prices strongly depend on your type of vehicle, though. It also varies from state to state. You can get online quotes on the official websites of each state. Then, there is the petrol you have to pay and if something needs to get fixed, you have to go to a garage and maybe pay parts and definitely pay the mechanic, which btw. is bloody expensive. If you bought a 4WD, parts are up to twice as expensive. A reliable car in good condition ranges from $2000 to $4000. A 4WD shouldn’t cost less than $4000 and vans start around $3500. Again, these prices strongly depend on the condition and type of car, the age and mileage. Also on the situation of the seller, for example if the person selling has to leave the country the next day, he will try to sell at all costs. Be careful when buying a car, because scams are not a rarity, so always get the vehicle checked by a good mechanic. Especially if you want to explore the outback and maybe go off road, you don’t want your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. You don’t necessarily need to buy car to travel with one. You can rent cars and vans or look for travel mates with spare seats on Gumtree or Facebook. If you travel together with some people, the costs will be less for each person. I have done both, I bought a car and found travel mates with cars online. I have made good experiences with both, although I had some trouble woth my car and it completely broke down in the end, it was totally worth buying it. It wasn’t expensive and worked for thousands of kilometers. If you have the chance of traveling by car, take it!