Travel the World without Flying

I decided not to allow my fear of flying stop me from exploring the world

Girl on beach silouetted against sunset

“Where have you travelled to?” I almost always feel an immediate sense of shame upon answering that question – knowing the response I give will likely classify me as ‘boring’ or’uncultured’ I wish I could reply with “ Well, I just returned from Vietnam – you must see the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city or the Quoc Tu Pagoda temple near Saigon” or perhaps “ I have backpacked most of Europe and Asia and I’m currently planning out my next trip to South America to check out the Peruvian Andes and hike Machu Picchu” but those answers would be about as truthful as one of the Real HouseWives of Beverley Hills claiming she had no Botox. The sad truth is that I have never explored outside of North America. The reason being… I am utterly terrified of flying.

I know there are plenty of self-help books, hypnotists, and therapists out there to help those of us with enough common sense to understand that flying through the air in a fake aluminum bird is not natural; however, I have tried countless times to overcome my fear of flying to zero avail. That said, I boarded a plane numerous times in my late teens to mid-twenties to travel throughout North America. Short flights seemed reasonable, and a couple double Captain and Coke pre-boarding was enough to get me to board. But here’s the catch 22 – once you fly somewhere, you typically have to fly back home. As soon as the feeling of relief upon landing safely at my destination wore off, I was once again faced with the fear of getting back on the airplane to return home; more often than not this fear would completely cripple the experience of my travels. Do not even get me started on flying overseas… that has yet to happen and likely will not… which is why I have decided to write this article and hopefully inspire any of my other comrades of the Anti-Airplane Travel Association (I made that up) to pursue their dreams of travelling through other means.

So with that being said, here are some ideas for getting around the globe without flying

Cargo Ships

Cargo Ship

A unique travel option that you may have never considered.

This option for travel was just recently brought to my attention whilst I was discussing my fear of flying at a family dinner. Many cargo ships will have space for a handful of passengers – from what I understand usually not upwards of a dozen people. Travelling by cargo ship is great for the flexible traveller – someone who has no set schedule, as departure dates can change at the drop of a hat; If you are someone who prefers a strict itinerary this may not be the way to go. The cost to travel by Cargo ship is roughly in the $100 dollar per day area- this is including meals (from what I have read the food on cargo ships is actually decent), so this is reasonable – well worth the price to see the world if flying is holding you back. Of course you will not be provided with evening entertainment and there will be no cabin stewards topping up your Mai-Tai on the pool deck – in fact, there will not even be a pool deck— what you will have is time for is solitude- reading, writing and reflecting while enjoying the cool ocean breeze. Check out this article on Travelling Two about their own experience with travelling by cargo ship. They have a few other articles and a podcast on their site as well.

Travel by Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship

If you have a fear of flying Cruises can be a great option

If you are looking to experience many different cultures and countries in one trip, this may be for you. Many cruise lines offer what is called a “ World Cruise” where you explore multiple continents within the time span of 3-4 months. These cruises start from around $28000 dollars for an interior room and can go up into $80000 + once you start looking getting into suites. This is a mode of travel where you will experience luxury- entertainment, fine-dining and events, however, it is not cost- friendly. This kind of trip takes careful planning and saving.

When travelling by cruise ship you will likely be stopping at more tourist friendly destinations at each port. If you are looking for a more raw and enriching travel experience where you will be immersed within the culture of each country you visit this – is probably not the way to go. If, however, you enjoy comfort when you travel and are just looking to scratch the surface of some new ground, then a ‘World Cruise’ may be your road to travel freedom. You can explore a wide selection by selecting World Cruise under destinations on Cruise Direct. There you can compare offerings and rates from the world’s leading cruise lines.

Travel by Train

Train passing over a bridge

Trains offer a scenic and relaxing mode of travel without ever having to leave the ground

Now obviously this won’t get you overseas – however, once you have figured out how to tackle any major bodies of water via cruise ship, cargo ship or inner tube you may want to venture off and do some exploring on your own. The Eurail will take you through much of Europe and it is a fantastic way to meet other like-minded travellers. There is different travel passes and options based on your itinerary and budget; The Eurail Global pass allows travel in over 28 European countries, while the Select pass will allow you to visit 4 bordering countries. Check out Eurail for some great deals on train travel throughout Europe. If you are travelling through Asia, check out travelling southeast Asia by rail for some routes and information via train. If you are travelling through Canada or the US you can always rent a car, take a bus or train. Check out Amtrak.

Happy Travels!


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