7 Excellent Ways to Travel Without Flying

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.

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

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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 if you look for those that offer comfortable seats, extra leg space, air conditioning, and wifi it still might be worth your while.  

We took a wine tour in Tuscany that was coach, which 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 and 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.

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. You can take a break to grab something to eat, use restrooms, and discover hidden beauty along the way. 

To fully evaluate this 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 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.) 

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.

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 easy way to make the trip using public transportation, and 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 and 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. 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 a house. 

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!

5. Travel by Train

The train is one of the classic ways to travel without flying, transferring 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. It is an inexpensive way to travel and an excellent way to see lesser-traveled scenes along the tracks. 

It’s 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, and save so much money on gas! And you can feel free to take a detour or go off the beaten path when adventure calls.

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

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 Sailboat Tours, a WindJammer Cruise, or Crewed Yacht Charter. (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.

Final Thoughts | Ways to Travel Without Flying

So, you can forget the stress of flying…No more missed flights, long waits at the airport, 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?

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This article is a sponsored post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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