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A Long and Winding Road

A few years ago, I traveled over the Andes in a chain of back-to-back connections that went like this: bus-ferry-bus-ferry-bus-ferry-bus. I’ve yet to top that transportation chain. But last month I gave it a run for its money with this combination: van-plane-train-subway-train-feet. (Yes, I’m counting “walking” as one of the connections.) It took about 12 hours door-to-door, and I was fully expecting to be tired and cranky by the end of it. But it turned out to be quite easy and I arrived at my destination with plenty of energy and good cheer to spare.

It’s not just the remote parts of the world that require tricky connections; my recent trip was from Rome to the north of France. Sometimes there’s just not a very direct way to get where you want to go. If you find yourself with a juggernaut of transportation connections ahead of you, there are a few simple things you can do to make it less taxing:

1. Plan ahead. When you’re juggling planes, trains and buses, you need to make sure their schedules align. This is not something you should figure out on the fly. You can find departure times and travel times for almost everything online. Work out your schedule before you walk out your door. Whenever you can, book tickets in advance, too.

2. Give yourself wiggle room. Book your connections with a generous amount of time between them. Rushing from a plane to a train – or worrying about having to rush – is a recipe for travel anxiety. Missing a connection because you didn’t give yourself enough time is both a hassle and a major bummer, dude.

3. Try to enjoy yourself. The journey is the destination! Okay, not literally. We’ve got somewhere to go. But still, the journey doesn’t have to be a drag. Consider an upgrade to a first-class train ticket or a taxi instead of another bus ride. Try to simplify things when you can. (In Rome, I could’ve taken a train to the airport, which would have made my journey: taxi-train-plane-train-subway-train-feet. I decided it was worth it to replace two steps with one, simpler, shared van.) And don’t forget to treat yourself along the way: with more time in a train station, for example, you can actually sit at a restaurant and have a proper cup of coffee.

Since teleportation and apparition seem unlikely in our lifetimes (alas), we’ll just have to deal with an occasional long and winding journey – but if you do it right, you’ll feel like a total travel boss when you arrive at your destination.

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