Renting a car vs using public transportation..and your feet!

Travel Forums General Talk Renting a car vs using public transportation..and your feet!

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1. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

An interesting thing happened on my last trip, and got me thinking about how people like to travel.

I don't drive, so I travel by train, bus and on foot whenever I can. I love walking around a new city, and waiting for the train or a bus to take me to the next one. Since I don't drive at home, this doesn't feel like a wate of time or like I'm wasting time just waiting around.

The friend I just travelled with loves to drive. She is a fantastic driver, and she drives everywhere - so travelling by car lets her feel safe and in control.

Whereas I felt cooped up and nauseous and missing out on being with people while being stuck inside a car, she, I'm sure, felt tired, not in control, and at the mercy of bus/train schedules. Then again, a car enabled us to see places not otherwise accessible, and certainly saved us hassle and time.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a preferred way to travel, or have you encountered instances where your way of doing things was in complete contrast with your travel companion's?

2. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3549 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Interesting topic Tina - we are heading to Beijing and lm nervous about it (for some STRANGE reason) and part of the reason lm nervous is the obvious language barrier and the fact that public transport may not be as accessible - in Beijing it seems even though there are subways they are not really anywhere near major sites and a further bus needs to be taken. Its not feasible to hire a car in Beijing (well not really but apparently doing it is mental as you can only drive within the Beijing confines). Apparently some unscruplious taxi drivers will scam western tourists if they can get away with it. Yet again walking about you get apparently get approached by students wishing to practise their English and then they try to scam you too! I know lve just painted a very bleak picture but l think l have read to much that has made nervous!!

We do tend to stick with public transport, and walking - getting lost and finding our way about - you tend to find gems that you never would have otherwise! This tends to be Paul leading the way and me following up from the back!

I know how your friend feels about driving though - lm really nervous when lm in the front passenger seat with someone (anyone from Paul to my Dad!) only when lm behind the wheel do l feel safe (and l would be the first to agree that lm not the worlds best driver!) but its a total control thing definately!

Around strangers too l tend to be stand offish until l get to know them (although l have improved with age and l will push myself out of my comfort zone). So being in a car/bus away from people aint a huge issue for me!

However in New Zealand we are hiring a car in the South Island so we can tour ourselves. But then again they drive on the same side of the road of as we do at home which should make things a lot easier.

In some countries public transport is better catered for than others - l know in NI the transport & trains etc arent the greatest and dont cover the island therefore driving is a much better option for people.

Anyway that was a bit of a ramble! Hope you can make sense of it all!

3. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Quoting tway

Since I don't drive at home, this doesn't feel like a wate of time or like I'm wasting time just waiting around.

Well - that was rather redundant!

What I meant was: doesn't feel an inconvenience or like I'm wasting time...

4. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I'm defenitely more relaxed on a train or bus than when I'm driving. In South America, I used to fall asleep on every single bus, for a while at least, no matter how uncomfortable or bumby it was! That's total relaxation, I tell you...

I'm quite a good driver but still I'm always a bit nervous while driving, due to the other cars! And I feel bad about the green house effect and climate issues too.

And I would never want to drive in a South American country! My good, they drive like crazy, and ordinary traffic rules don't seem to apply there... As for NZ, UK etc. I can't handle left hand traffic. I did drive a little in Canada though, and that was OK.


5. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Quoting snatterand

As for NZ, UK etc. I can't handle left hand traffic. I did drive a little in Canada though, and that was OK.


I didn't mean that I thought they drive on the left side in Canada... My god, that would have been funny! "I did drive a little on the left side in Canada though, and that was OK." No, I meant that that is the only foreign country I've been driving in that didn't feel totally scary!


6. Posted by Namaste (Budding Member 46 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I drive and use public transportation depending on the trip or company...
I travel a lot with my mum, and then we sometimes hire a car. I'm the driver (she can't drive) and I love it. It's easy, you can take all your belongings with you without dragging your bags, you can leave whenever you like, and go where you want. And if the place we want to visit is inaccesible by car, then we simply walk or take publ. transp. for that part. And the great thing is that you can stop at any place you cross (which you can't when you're stuck on a train), just when you want to enjoy the view or when something catches your attention, and sometimes it makes you change your itinerary. We ran into some nice spots like this. The advantage is of course the secure feeling. At the otherhand, travelling (long distances or many hours a day) by car is tiring for the driver and is not be to underestimated! But that doesn't keep me away from the wheel, I like driving too much. (but I would stress driving on the left side!!)

I also like travelling by publ.transp., because you get to see a whole different way of living, but to me, it often feels less comfortable. I mean, you waste precious time by searching and waiting, and you need to pay attention to lots of things and making sure you get where you want and not the complete opposite side I'm less confident and it ís less secure. Certainly because I'm often alone. But, it gives somehow more satisfaction once you've made it.....


Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by kkwijibo (Full Member 56 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I think it depends where you're visiting, if I were going to Florida or California, I'd hire a car. If it was London or Tokyo I'll not bother.

On my hols though I'm always going to be walking around the city centre of wherever I visit, so will be catching public transport for this.

Although I drive to work daily and like to drive :) I'm ok with catching public transport on holiday, just that I'm more relaxed and not in a rush to get anywhere

9. Posted by summer910 (Respected Member 1342 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I don't drive, so I definitely have to use public transport when I travel. It's somewhat of a triumph to master the local transport system, at least that was how I felt when I went Holland! But I do like to get around by walking, I can get a better feel of the place I'm visiting this way.

When I am in a vehicle for long periods, I tend to feel nauseous or headachey, so I have to sleep on long journeys. I suppose that puts paid to driving.

10. Posted by PLUSCREW (Budding Member 28 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I didn't drive for the five years I lived in london, which made it all the more strange to get back behind the wheel, especially as now I drive a right-hand drive car in Italy on the right side when I come originally from a country that drives on the left. Needs must now as where I live there is one bus a day into town.
All my initial travelling days were predominantly by train. In London you were always 3 minutes walk from a tube station or bus stop, and then to look at the expense of driving took all the fun out of it. Finding a carpark was cardiac arrest material.
I worked for a garage as a receptionist and saw the massive repair bills, on top of the exorbitant road tax, extortionate parking fees, insurance and then the road charges that people had to pay, sometimes a total of quite a few thousand pounds a year, as opposed to my £20 a week to get around by tube and bus.
I loved walking through the parks some days and had no worry about walking up to an hour to get home some nights. All major cities have some kind of tourist friendly system to get to grips with the public transport, its in their interest, with either self service ticket machines with several languages or written guides. once you have worked out how to use one underground system the rest are pretty much the same.
a good pair of walking shoes, a tube map and a daily travel pass are all you really need for inner city travel. hire cars are for riding into the country or off to the beach.