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Alternatives to Public Transportation While Traveling

by Susan Finch

Nov 16, 2019

Boris Bikes, London, England © Anizza | Dreamstime

Tips / Travel

Traveling is an opportunity to expand your horizons and try things you’ve never experienced before. But when it comes to public transportation, you might want to give it a hard pass. I’m all for public buses and subways, but it’s not always practical, depending on your destination of choice. Public transportation can also take up more time and resources than is realistic for a short excursion. But there are plenty of other ways to explore on vacation without relying on public infrastructure. From biking to ferries, here’s where to look first.


Bike Rental
Whether you’re traveling domestically or abroad, most cities and even larger towns or suburbs offer bike rentals. Use Blue Bikes Boston, City Bikes and Cycle Europe to hop on a bike and start exploring. But depending on where you’re traveling or if you’re in a remote area, it might be cheaper to purchase a used bike and then gift it to a worthy local on your way out of town. You can also keep an eye out for free or ridiculously inexpensive bikes in places like Stockholm and Copenhagen.


The rise of electric scooters exploded over the last few years, with a market size valued at $17.43 billion in 2018 alone. Rental companies like Bird, Lime, Skip and Spin offer affordable rentals by the minute, so you’re never spending more than you want to get across town. Just remember to check any rules in advance; some cities prohibit electric scooters after dark or during specific hours.


Water Taxis and Ferries
Tropical islands aren’t the only destinations that offer water taxi and ferry service. New York City’s Staten Island Ferry is free and offers glorious views of Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, not to mention quick access to see a Staten Island Yankees minor league game. You can also take ferries from various points throughout the boroughs, as well as water taxis. It’s often faster, more fun and provides better views than relying on the subway.


Hop-On, Hop-Off Tours
I discovered the hidden benefits of a hop-on, hop-off tour while visiting Paris during a subway strike. The only way to get around town seamlessly was with the tour buses. Although more expensive than public transportation, it was a quick and easy way to get around and get an overview of local attractions. Hop-on, hop-off tours are also ideal for short layovers when you want an informational overview of your destination, followed by a leisurely walk in the park or pub lunch.



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