Taxis from the airport? Are you crazy? Take the bus/train/walk!

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Taxis from the airport? Are you crazy? Take the bus/train/walk!

Arriving bleary eyed at Bangkok airport or in the midst of mayhem in Rome can plunge travellers into a quick fire panic and send you seeking out the nearest exit from the revolving luggage. Often the taxi turns up like a shining knight in yellow armour. Before you can even haggle a price they have thrown your backpack into the boot and you are whizzing along to your hostel. There isn’t much wrong with this picture so far until it comes time to handing over the fare. Catching a taxi from the airport means that you have paid top dollar for your journey, a small piece of convenience has cost you three meals, a fabulous souvenir or the emergency money you have been stashing in your underpants and honestly you will regret it.

Traveling is all about experience and embracing the local way of life and there is no better way to jump in with both feet then to tackle the public transport system of your brand new country.

Of course I can hear the cries of protest right now;  but I haven’t slept for 27 hours, I don’t understand the language, my bags are too big and the taxi driver actually kidnapped me and threw me and my luggage into his boot, drive me to the hostel and demanded payment! Sure taxi drivers want your business, but you need to be firm, shake your head and keep walking to the nearest information desk you can find. At many major destinations you can always find at least a semi English speaker sitting behind the airport tourist information desk, and they will thrust a map in your face and start circling random areas. This is your key to getting where you want to be without paying the price.

Buses, trains, bicycles, hitch-hiking or your own two feet –these are modes of transport that can deliver a taste of adventure and help you to discover new skills of navigation you never thought you had which will help you on your merry way for the rest of your life.

 

The bus

The bus is perhaps one of the longest and arduous but also one of the best ways of getting where you need to be. Every airport will have a bus and depending on what continent you are in – you could be riding on the rooftop with chickens or you could be relaxing in a nice seat with a view of the city. Kind of like a cheaper version of those open top city bus tours. Riding the bus from the airport does require a little local knowledge or at least the ability to strap your map to the driver’s forehead and try to play charades until he understands where you need to go.

 

The train

If you are lucky enough to stumble into a country with good infrastructure then you definitely want to check out the trains or the local metro system. Metro is always a winner as they are aimed to help tourists along even if the underground map is sprawled with a million different lines heading in every direction. With trains and undergrounds you can be sure that you won’t get stuck in traffic, although lugging your cases down into the belly of the underground can be a bit of a challenge. Trains can be a little pricier then the hot and sticky underground system or the cultural explosion of the bus but they can also have the added bonuses of speed, flushing toilets and a sweet seat that provides an excellent backdrop to your latest Facebook selfie.

 

Hitch-hiking

Another possibility for the adventurous travellers out there who arrive during the gleam of daylight hours is to try hitch-hiking. I’m sure your mother has already filled you in on the horrors of hitch—hiking and how dangerous it is and how everyone wants to kill you, especially that nice man with a carful of puppies who just happens to be going your way…so I won’t bore you with the gory details. Yet hitching in the day time, a short distance from the airport and especially with a friend can get you where you need to be for absolutely free. The beauty of hitchhiking is that you always get where you are going in the end, it can just take a long time.

 

So in the future avoid the taxi and start thinking outside the credit card box and attempting to truly travel.

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