Air travel connects major hubs, but it’s overland travel that connects travelers with the world. The people and places that exist between one airport and another.
Get to know the world and its people better by adding a few overland segments to your trip. You’ll see and understand more of every country you visit, make deeper connections with each destination and probably save some money in the process.
1. From Auckland to Christchurch (Driving)
It’s about an 8-hour drive (not counting the ferry) Between these two cities lies much of the true natural beauty of New Zealand. If you’ve never RVed before this is a great place to do it!
2. From Sydney to Melbourne or Sydney to Brisbane (Via Car)
Don’t try to tackle too much overland in Australia unless you have a ton of time—the distances can be huge and time-consuming. The distance between Sydney and Perth is over 2000 miles, or roughly the distance between New York and Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a long, empty drive. You might also want to continue on to Cairns, just be aware it’s another 850 miles past Brisbane. Want more detailed options for roadtrips in Oz? Check out this article from BootsnAll.
3. From Singapore to Bangkok (In Train)
There’s a wealth of comfortable and cheap train travel options between the various cities and towns along the Malay Peninsula and fares are inexpensive.
4. From Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi (Via Sleeper Car)
Take the Reunification Express between the two cities and you can exit at any of the 10 train stops along the way.
5. From Hong Kong to Shanghai or Shanghai to Beijing (In High-Speed Train)
The Chinese have their own version of the bullet train which means you can cover distances almost as quickly as you would in a plane. Don’t forget your visa!
6. From cities in India: Calcutta, Varanasi, Delhi (In Train)
The Indian rail system employs over a million people, but train travel in India is chaotic, even on a good day so be sure to give yourself time (and patience) to get around the subcontinent.
7. From Nairobi to Johannesburg or Cape Town (Via Bus and Train)
Not surprisingly, this route can be time-consuming and frustrating to even the savviest traveler, but in the end, it’s a highly rewarding journey. Bus it from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam after that trains connect the major cities along the southeast African coast.
8. In the Middle East (Via Bus or Chauffeured Car)
It’s possible to travel overland between Cairo and northern destinations (Tel Aviv, Amman). But you’ll have to be very careful about Israeli passport stamp stigma as passing through overland borders will get you stamped by Israeli border control and certain countries will not allow entry if you have an Israeli stamp.
9. Europe (Via rail)
One of the best reasons for hopping trains around Europe is that most rail stations in Europe are smack in the city-center saving you that costly taxi or train out to the airport, plus the time saved waiting at security checkpoints and on the tarmac can be spent actually enjoying the cities you’re visiting. The only downside is that it can be expensive and the fares add up quickly. Buy a railpass and save.
10. From Rio to Sao Paulo (In Bus)
Bus service is frequent and efficient and will have you in a new Brazilian city in 3 hours.
11. From Buenos Aires to Montevideo (Via Ferry)
Take the 3-hour ferry that sails across Rio de la Plata.
12. From Santiago to Mendoza (In Rental Car)
Rent a car. The 3-hour drive through the mountains is an experience you’ll never forget.
13. From Los Angeles to San Francisco (Driving)
Drive up the 101. It’s one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines.
14. From New York to Philly or Washington D.C. (In Train)
Hop a train in Grand Central Station to another famous east coast city.
Wherever you go and however long you plan to stay, work some overland travel into your RTW schedule–it’s by far the best way to delve deeper on your travels. It’ll give you a broader and deeper understanding of people and place than you’d ever get flying from one major hub to the next. Most of the world lives in the places between.