The Consummate Traveler: The Hits and Misses of Ground Transportation

November 6, 2014 Updated: May 28, 2019

Several years ago, I decided to take a train from Milan to Monaco as part of a three-city vacation in order to save some money. Since the journey was going to be several hours long, and my friend and I had large luggage to deal with, I purchased first-class seats to ensure our comfort. Needless to say, when we boarded the train, we received a very rude awakening. Not only was the train old and nowhere near a first-class accommodation, there was not even air-conditioning on board. How I wished I had flown or taken a private car.

Contrast my experience with a recent one that a colleague of mine had here in Brazil. He made plans to take an overnight bus (Reunidas Paulista private bus company) from the city of Sao Paulo to a resort town 5.5 hours away near Rio de Janeiro called Paraty for just $50 round trip. I was a bit worried for him. However, when he returned, he summed up his trip in one word: “awesome.” Not only was the bus clean and safe, it also had plush comfortable seats that reclined and allowed him to sleep much of the journey. Coming from someone who is over 6 feet 4 inches, that is a remarkable endorsement.

In fact, another colleague on my business trip mentioned that she also took an overnight bus trip from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro a few years ago and raved that the buses were great. Her trip even included sleeping bed compartments with privacy curtains for added comfort. Who knew that bus transportation services in Brazil were so remarkable?

As you can see from the examples shared, ground transportation quality and service can differ greatly country by country. When planning any trip, it is extremely important to do appropriate research such as reading blogs, checking out travel website reviews, or consulting a travel agent to gather enough information so you can decide what is right for you. In some instances, trains and buses may be a wonderful option that will allow you to save a tremendous amount of money, while in others investing in a flight or private car service will be well worth it.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!