Getting around overseas
Some of the best adventures overseas are had on the road and these days there's plenty of ways to get around, whatever your destination. From super fast rail networks to slow, romantic ferry rides to using your own pedal power - you can often choose a way of getting around to suit the sort of travel experience you want, your available time and your budget.
If you've organised a package trip or tour, often your transport is included in the deal. But if you're being your own 'tour organiser' it's good to think about options for getting around early in your holiday planning.
Tips for getting around
Whatever way you choose to get from place to place, here's a few things to consider to help make your travel both safe and enjoyable.
- Research and plan in advance so you know your options - have a back-up plan in case of cancellations or changes to your itinerary
- Allow plenty of time for booking tickets or reserving seats. In some countries, even getting a simple bus ticket can mean hours of waiting in queues and dealing with complicated booking processes. While this can be an adventure in itself, don't put yourself under pressure by leaving your bookings to the last minute
- Make sure your travel insurance covers your chosen mode of transport - while a desert journey on camelback may sound a romantic transport option, make sure that your travel insurance covers you for any of the more offbeat ways you choose to get around
- Keep your travel documents safe. Keep all your travel documents with you, e.g. passport, visas, travel permits, travel passes and student cards and also make copies of documents to have as a back up in an emergency
- Allow some extra time in your itinerary for getting from place to place - sometimes trips will take longer than you planned so make sure you plan for contingencies
- Keep your eye out for discounts, e.g. travel passes, discounts for booking ahead, regular specials and options for travelling off peak or out-of-season. It's amazing what sort of deals the savvy traveller can find if you do your research
Options for getting around
While transport options will vary depending on where you travel, here's some general things to consider for the most common ways of getting around. For more specific information, we've included a list of links at the end of the page.
Buying or hiring a car or motorbike gives you heaps of flexibility - you choose where you want to go and when you want to travel. You must have an Australian Drivers Licence to drive overseas and in many countries you'll also need an International Driving Permit (IDP). You'll find information about which countries require an IDP and how to get one at the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) (new window). Here's a few other pointers:
- Do not get a driving permit via the internet - they are illegal
- Budget to insure for yourself, passengers, the vehicle and third party
- Renting a car usually requires a credit card
- Make sure you research and observe the road, traffic and safety laws of the region you are driving
- Remember that the care and responsibility you take while driving at home equally applies overseas and always ask yourself 'Would I do this at home?'
Trains & buses
Most overseas destinations will have a bus or train network (or both). These are often government run or are a combination of government and private companies. While you can purchase tickets on an as-needs basis to suit your travel plans, sometimes it's worth checking out what travel passes or discount tickets are available in the country you are travelling. Often buying passes in advance can bring substantial savings and passes give you the flexibility to go anywhere within the transport network.
You can find out specific transport options for your destination country in an up-to-date, reputable guidebook. Once you know more about your transport options, do a bit of online research to find out current prices, how to purchase travel passes or if it's worth buying tickets or passes before you leave Australia.
To get you started, check out the YHA Australia website's Overseas Travel pages (new window). They list travel options for a number of worldwide destinations.
Bicycle & foot
Getting around under your own steam is a greener, cleaner transport choice and a great way to see a place in intimate detail - pedal-by-pedal or step-by-step.
Cycle tourism is a growing niche market and provides a cheap, healthy and fun way to really get to know a region or country. And networks of walking and bike tracks within cities and towns make walking or cycling a safe and economical transport option.
We've listed some links below to help you find out more about walking and cycling options overseas.
Links for getting around
A load of useful information covering buses, trains, ferries, ships and other options for travelling around your destination.
Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) - International Drivers Permit
In Australia, the Australian Automobile Association is the government-appointed authority for issuing permits. The RACV's site lists countries where you need a permit and explains how to get one.
Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) - Carnet de Passage
If you want to transport your vehicle overseas or transport a vehicle into Australia you will need a carnet de passage. Find out what it is and how to organise one.
Youth Hostels Association (YHA) Australia - Transport
Use the interactive map to view current transport options and deals in specific countries. A good starting point for transport ideas and options.
Bicycling & walking links
International Bicycle Fund - International Links
International bicycle and cyclist association sites are a great place to find information for bicycle touring and tips for bicycle tourists. This page lists a number of worldwide cycling organisations.
This joint State and Federal Government website promotes the use of alternative, cleaner, greener modes of transport as a way of helping the environment and improving our health and quality of life. It's a good starting point for thinking about simpler modes of transport like cycling and walking and has links to a number of international sites and other TravelSmart programs.