Counterintuitive Travel Tip #5: Be inefficient

by Zora O'Neill on November 5, 2012

On to more practical matters. Though this still relates to trip-planning.

Take the train, especially if it’s slow.

I can’t tell you how many guidebooks I’ve read recently where they’ve said, basically, “Enh, there’s a train, but you’re better off on the bus/airplane.”

C’mon—how will you ever be better off squished in a bus barreling down a highway? On a bus or a plane, you’re just waiting till you get there—that’s 100 percent wasted time.

On a train, though, the adventure starts when you get on. Fine, maybe it gets a little boring in the last hour, but it’s still at least 70 percent quality time.

OK, so maybe don't take *this* train...

Moreover, the train makes the decision for you. Overwhelmed by all the wonders a country has to offer? It’s easy to narrow down your itinerary if you just go where the train goes. After three trips to Morocco traveling almost entirely by their excellent train system, I think I’m finally ready to rent a car or hop a bus to the farther-flung parts of the country. Peter and I still haven’t run out of entertainment on the Thai train line.

Yes, you’ll be missing some things—but that would happen no matter what. Why not enjoy what you can see by train, rather than showing up cranky and poorly rested to a bunch of other places?

...but definitely this one. (Photo by Peter.)

I could expand this tip to cover all kinds of odd transport: bikes, funiculars, pickup trucks with bench seats in the back. The weirder and more novel, the better. That way, the transit time becomes an adventure too.

In fact, maybe this tip should just be: Go the least efficient way. The slower you go, the more you see.

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