Long stretches of highway linger on into the middle distance, the horizon line calling like an old friend. Expanses of black asphalt wind through fields and mountains, the human mark- we’ve been here, and we’ll be back again. Travel by car can be vast, and simple, not too rough on your back with all your possessions stuffed into the trunk or the back seat.
How do we explore without a car? It’s become such a common sight, the van renovations, the road trip documentaries. What about the non-drivers, hitchhikers, train hoppers? That old rambling life, with no engine sounds, no hot motorways and concrete bridges, no gas stations in the middle of nowhere, no satellite navigation.
Everywhere I’ve ever been, my reliable feet, and the unreliable public transport system, have taken me there. Maybe it was the awful holidays where my family took wrong turn after wrong turn, leaving us on the sides of cliffs, or down rough track roads, which left me with something of a fear of cars. Maybe it was the unsettling motion sickness, those familiar and horrible waves of nausea which I only ever felt in a car. Maybe, after all of it, not having the money to learn how to drive at 17 meant that I never saw it as an option in my future. Whatever it was, growing up, I never believed that only a car could take you to exciting new places.
From the time I turned 13, I took the train to the city whenever I could. Those vast stations and small carriages were like a wild new love story to me. I dragged friends with me, and by my late teens I was travelling across the sea to Dublin- eight hours of rail and ferry travel, through fields and across sparkling seas, was more diverse and fascinating to me than hours of grey motorway.
Journeys on public transport bring the vibrant world to your window seat, they fill your travel with vast landscapes and offer the joy of a wandering mind. No focus on the accelerator, only the orange sun on the distant horizon line, and the clouds fading into the blue dusk.
Where will you go, without a car?
Featured image: Onur K via Unsplash.