7 Excellent Ways to Travel Without Flying

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Do you have a fear of flying? Or maybe you’re not ready to hop on a plane just yet? No worries. That doesn’t mean you have to forego travel; there are several alternatives to flying, each with unique benefits! If you are an adventurer and like to explore, check out these excellent ways to travel without flying.

Editor’s Note: We updated this post in August 2022 to keep the content fresh.

ways to travel without flying: girl with long red hair sits in road with her luggage reading a map

CONTENTS: In this article, you will discover 7 great (and fun!) alternatives to airplane travel, including:

1. Travel by Coach/Bus

One of the cheapest ways to travel without flying is by coach.

You can cover a long distance at a fraction of the price. Of course, the trip will take more time, and long days on the road can be exhausting.

But it still may be worth your while if you look for those that offer:

  • Comfortable seats
  • Extra leg space
  • Air conditioning
  • Free WiFi

We took a wine tour in Tuscany that was coach.

It made several stops along the way and it was a great way to see the countryside. We selected window seats furthest to the back of the bus, so we also had a good view out the rear window.

If you opt for the lowest-budget bus rides, like those that run daily between Boston and NYC, don’t forget a pillow, some downloaded films for your phone, and headphones.

Then, you are all set. 

Also, be sure to check whether they allow food on the ride or will make stops so you can plan accordingly. If you’re tour doesn’t include lodging, you’ll want to book accommodations in advance. To find the best lodging options, search Booking.com, expedia.com, and hotels.com based on your your location, budget, and desired amenities.

2. Travel by Car (Self-Drive)

Traveling by car is underrated. It gives you the freedom to go wherever and whenever you want compared to other modes of transport.

Plus, it’s not just about getting from point A to point B: Road trips are a great way to explore. You can take a break to grab something to eat, use restrooms, and discover hidden beauty along the drive.

And when you stay connected with eSIM data, you’ll be able to find your way with Google Maps, or other map apps. We recommend getting yours from aloSIM.

To fully evaluate the self-drive option, make sure you review this detailed list of benefits and drawbacks to self-driving.

Then, you’ve got a couple of options to consider when it comes to travel by car:

  • Drive your own car
  • Rent a car 

If you drive your own car, you’ll need to determine the route, prep the car, fill the tank, and do everything else that goes along with planning a road trip.

We’ve done many of these types of trips, including our 10-day visit to Nova Scotia and several weekend getaways to northern New England

If you rent the car rather than drive your own, there’s the added expense of the rental fee. But, you can avoid the wear-and-tear on your own vehicle.

You may also want to rent a specialty vehicle, like we did when we went to Nantucket.

We rented a jeep so we could drive onto the beach! On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I rented a beefy Charger so I knew I could navigate the freeway with ease.

In both instances, you can pack the car with as many of your belongings as will fit (assuming it’s a local rental).

Not sure where to go? No worries. Use this app to draw a distance radius around your location for ideas.

Related: Check out this Beginner’s Guide to Road Trips.

3. Hire A Driver

The third option when driving a car is one of my favorites: hire a driver.

Yes, it can be pricey, but it may not be as expensive as you think.

It takes the pressure off of you to drive in an unfamiliar area, and it offers the luxury of relaxing as a passenger.

When I was in Italy, I hired a driver for the route from Naples to Positano. There was simply no quick and easy way to make the trip using public transportation.

I didn’t want to miss the incredible views along the Amalfi Coast–or drive off the cliff! 

Hiring a driver was very reasonably priced.

Plus, the added bonus was that my driver, Max, shared interesting history details and highlighted points of interest along the drive.

He even stopped at scenic points to take my picture, which was great because I was traveling solo.

It was money well-spent that enhanced my travel experience.

4. Travel By RV or Van

Van life seems to be all the rage these days.

I’ve watched countless shows online about travelers converting old vans, box-trucks, school busses, campers, even their cars into homes-on-wheels.

And why not?

Imagine the freedom of living for an extended time wherever the road may take you, camping under the stars?

Perhaps the most luxurious of these options is the RV, some of which are bigger than the average house.  A luxury campervan gives you the most pleasant way to travel.

If you’re considering a travel mode that’s more of a lifestyle, you may want to plan a summer trip by RV or Van.

That way, you can “try on” the experience for a season to see if it’s the lifestyle for you!

Related: If you decide to do this, here are some RV Essentials for your Camper Getaway .

5. Travel by Train

The train is one of the classic ways to travel without flying.

It allows you to transfer easily from one city to another, or even one country to another.

Interrailing (as with a Europass) is popular amongst youth, especially those studying abroad who want to travel far and wide without taking a plane. 

My own personal experience includes traversing Italy from one end to the other on Trenitalia rail, and more recently, exploring southern Spain on Renfe.

It is an inexpensive way to travel.

It’s also an excellent way to see lesser-traveled scenes along the tracks. 

Travel by rail is also very cost-effective and one of the more comfortable ways of traveling, especially since you are free to walk between the cars during the ride. 

Many trains provide charging ports for your electronic devices and offer toilet facilities.

Others include a snack bar or dining car where you can get a frothy cappuccino and la torta (cake) for the ride.

Depending on the length of your trip, you may even be able to reserve sleeping quarters.

And if it’s just a few bucks more to upgrade to first class, it’s worth it for the extra space.

To make the best time, opt for high-speed trains whenever possible. The fastest trains go up to 160 mph (250 km/hr)!

Fast trains aren’t just for Europe: the Amtrak Acela Express makes 16 stops along the US’ Northeast Corridor. All Aboard! 

6. Travel by Motorcycle

Are you a biker who loves the thrill of traveling from place to place on your motorcycle? I’ve only been on a bike once, but it was an adrenaline rush to be cruising along country roads with the breeze! 

On a motorcycle, you can:

  • Enjoy a panoramic view of the sea or mountain routes
  • Feel the sun on your skin
  • Save so much money on gas
  • Take a detour or go off the beaten path when adventure calls

Plus, you’ll become an expert at packing light.

Related: Here are 7 scenic motorcycle road trips in the US.

7. Travel by Boat

Up until now, we’ve been talking about overlanding as an alternative to flying.

But to travel to overseas or island destinations, in most instances, you’ll need to travel by boat.

It can be luxurious to travel by boat, and you have several options.

Many ocean liners offer world-class entertainment, very comfortable accommodations (provided you pick a room to your liking), and crazy amounts of delicious food.

Don’t be surprised to find several restaurants, bars, a spa, pool, and gym facilities in this “city on the sea.”

You may have many ports of call as well as days at sea, poolside, where you can relish some incredible views along the way. 

A river cruise is similar to an ocean cruise—but on a much smaller scale.

Plus, you’ll be traveling along a beautiful river, such as the Danube or the Mississippi River, for example.

Plan on sleeping comfortably while the ship is en route to the next city stop. Then, you’ll likely have opportunities to explore the area to your liking and dine onshore.

You could also take a cargo ship, which can be pricy but such a unique experience!

Even more exclusive options for traveling by boat include:

These are some of my favorite ways to travel without flying!

And, don’t overlook opportunities nearby to travel by boat, such as on local ferries.

For instance, plan a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard from Falmouth, MA with a ride on the Island Queen.

Or, hop on “The Cat,” a high-speed ferry out of Bar Harbor, Maine and you will save drive-time to Nova Scotia. You can even bring your car if you’d like.

Finally, if you’re looking for ferries in the UK and Europe, check out these P&O Ferries voucher codes. That way, you’ll enjoy traveling in style on the UK’s favorite ferry line, and you’ll get the best price!

Related: 7 Easy Steps to Plan a Family Sailing Trip

Final Thoughts | Ways to Travel Without Flying

So, you can forget the stress of flying…No more missed flights, long waits at the airport, finding airport parking deals, customs clearance, and lost luggage.

There are plenty of alternatives.

Just because you’re not flying, doesn’t mean you can’t travel. And with these ways to travel without flying, you’ll hardly miss the boarding call.

Which of these suits your next trip?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What alternatives are there to air travel?

Popular alternatives to air travel include train, boat, car, bus, RV, motorcycle, bicycle, and other methods.

Which is cheaper, flying or train?

In most cases, it’s cheaper to travel by train than to fly. Depending on where you’re going, it might be quicker to fly, but you’ll miss the scenery along the way. And, you don’t have to drive yourself. Occasionally, it can be cheaper to fly if you book at the right time.

Can you travel the world by land?

No. Because the continents are separated by oceans and seas, you’ll have to choose another way to cross them. This could be by boat or air.

Next Steps

For more information about traveling without flying, read these articles next. They cover everything from luxury travel to roughing it.

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16 thoughts on “7 Excellent Ways to Travel Without Flying”

  1. I have not travelled in an RV and I would love to do that. Other than that, I have used all the above mentioned modes of transport. And its great to experience them all. For some situations, you cannot give flying a miss because it is the most convenient and saves time but I love road trips and cruises. Road tripping in India is my favorite thing to do.

    • I agree with you – sometimes it’s so worth hopping on a plane! Road tripping in India sounds like fun to me, too.

  2. Those are some amazing ideas on how to travel without flying. My personal preference is either by an RV or by a passenger ferry. I had never traveled by an RV yet, but it is on my list. I did travel by passenger ferry, though. It was an incredible experience as I was able to watch some whales and dolphins swimming around.

    • I love ferries, too! There’s something about being out on the ocean that is both exciting and relaxing at the same time. RVing is cool, too. I hope you get the chance to try it!

  3. I must admit that we far prefer a train to a bus. I like the ability to move around on a train. A great option for European travel. We keep saying we will hire a driver and rarely do. But the one time we did we got an amazing tour from a local. As cruisers, we travel by boat all the time. And would love a boat of any size for our travels. Hubby has wanted to do a cargo ship or mail boat trip. I guess we will see!

    • Sounds like you’ve explored quite a few alternatives to planes! I love any chance I get to travel by water. 😀

  4. When our son was little and loved trains, we thought about taking a train from Dallas to Pittsburgh. Little did we know that train ticket prices were higher than airplanes and all those sleeping cabs were fully booked months in advance. We ended up flying and now we like to drive our car/minivan and haul our teardrop trailer because our dog Snoopy travels with us. As you said, we can stop whenever or wherever we want. That’s what I like about it.

  5. Yes, in fact these alternate options to traveling by plane can be quite fulfilling. I usually hire drivers in Asia where it is very cheap and will truly enhance your trip. In other countries I prefer to self drive a car or a motorbike. Traveling by boat is one of my favourite ways of traveling as I am a sea lover. Bus is not my piece of cake. Last time I took a night bus from Bangkok to Koh Lanta, in Thailand, to save a bit, I promised myself I would not treat myself that way any more. It took me 3 days to fully recover from the 22 hours bus trip. So I do not do longer than 8 hours in a bus since that experience.

    • Water is one of my favorite ways to travel, too! But a 22 hour bus trip sounds harrowing… the most I would do is a 2-3 hour ride, honestly. 8 hours might even be too long for me!

  6. I don’t like flying at all so if I can avoid it, I will. Back in 2010, after a traumatising flight, I went to Asia by train. Boarded in Europe and spent two months exploring Central and South East Asia. I had the time of my life and I would love to do it again. Last year I went on a road trip around Europe and I loved the freedom it gave me. I visited so many places that I wouldn’t have known about if I flew from one place to another. One of the most beautiful places, in Austria, happened because of a GPS mistake. It was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in Europe.

  7. I love land travel especially if you have lots of time. Train travel is cheaper and saves the environment too as it doesn’t burn as much fossil fuel as airplanes. But yes it’s not always possible specially here where you need to cross the ocean to get to the next island.

    I’ve been planning Europe and maybe travel the continent by land so I can see the change of landscape too. Thanks for the tips, I might choose train travel or van life once I get to the other side 🙂

    • You make a great point, that overlanding allows you to see the changes of landscape (maybe even seasons) along the way! The sustainability factor is worth noting, as well. Thank you for your insightful comment!

  8. One of my biggest dreams is to have a jeep with a tent or a camper van – whichever comes first. For the moment, I am used to driving my car in the nearby countries to Romania, or to rent a car when I fly somewhere. But of course this implies flying to a certain destination because otherwise it would take me too long to get to the other side of the world.

    • Both of those dreams sound fantastic to me, Iuliana! I’ve been taking a lot of domestic road trips myself lately. 🙂

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