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Legroom, an assured seat, direct service and at least partially understanding conductors. These are the perks of travelling by tourist bus.

Travelling by local transport will more likely involve a few hikes, confused directions, probable rip-offs, cramped seating (if you’re lucky enough to get any at all), and – worst of all – a constant torrent of touts attempting to lure you back to the luxury path. You’ll save perhaps a third to a half the cost of your journey, but add perhaps a third to a half in duration. Surely not worth the hassle.

Sitting on my first group tourist bus from Chitwan to Kathmandu, I disagree with this theory. Around a third of my world trip could be spent on the road. The tourist option provides luxury, but is thoroughly dull. On tourist busses you can make acquaintances, but where are the experiences and where are the friends? Why waste such a large portion of travel time in this way?

Most of my trip has been made on public transport – by which I mean transport that a local person would generally use. I’ve travelled by bus, train, plane, taxi, tuktuk, rickshaw, bicycle, motorbike, tractor, boat, canoe, camel, elephant and horse&cart. Connecting them, I’ve wandered through unknown towns asking for directions and taken blind guesses while maintaining the appearance of utmost confidence to fend off touts.

There’s no doubt which option is harder, but travelling with locals is just so much more fun. Memories I take away so far include debating economics with a train conductor, sharing music via Bluetooth with a teenager on a crushingly busy Indian train and haggling with a horse-drawn-cart driver while attempting to conceal a smile of glee about the impending journey.

I can’t promise that I will pass up luxury every time. Sometimes easier is better. I can say, though, that harder is more fun, more rewarding, and more like the travel I set out to do.

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