Public or Private Transport? Traveling in a Foreign Country: Pros & Cons

In Suggested Transportation, Travel Tips & Advice, Traveling Smarter by Anya4 Comments

Traveling in a foreign country can be tough…take it from my own dad, who passed the hardest driving test of all…driving in a complete white-out snow sheet in icy Iceland on a steep hill!!  Nevertheless, with a few tips you can pick which mode of transportation is better for which time…all here!  Read on to know more about the pros and cons of public  versus private transportation, and all other modes of transport!

Private Transportation (Rental Cars!)

There are many perks of having a rental car…but…there are also some down sides.  The cost of having a rental car is significantly higher than having some sort of a pass for public transport.  On the flip side, you can get from place to place much faster with your own car than a bus.


Let’s talk about the good things of private transportation first:

1. you can drive wherever you want, whenever you want

2. it is quicker (in some cases, much, much faster)

3. a little bit safer

4. easier, especially with small children and a lot of “stuff”

5. (generally) more comfortable


Now let’s get to the not-so-good things of private transport:

1. costs much, much more (pay to park, gasoline, rental, etc.)

2. sometimes more of an inconvenience (have to find parking)

3. flat tire issues (has happened to us in Italy!)

4. more hassle (finding parking, picking up, dropping of, etc.)

5. not always the best car!

Renting your own car is not always the worst option…but it all depends on where you are going, and what your family situation is.  If you are going to a place like Iceland, where there is pretty much no public transportation, you obviously need your own rental car!  But in a place like London, where public transportation is second nature, renting a car is going to feel a lot more like a hassle and a waste of money than a travel-saver.

Public Transportation

Public Transportation is never a bad option at all…especially if you’re in an area where you see public buses and trams everywhere you look!  Here I’ll list some of the pros and cons of taking a public mode of transportation…


Let’s get to the pros first:

1. costs much less

2. (sometimes) more convenient 

3. no parking hassle

4. a good experience

5. sometimes a fun little adventure (getting lost too!!)

6. BONUS!  Saves the Earth little bit by little bit!!



Now let’s get to some of the cons:

1. very time-consuming

2. doesn’t always work

3. sometimes have to call a cab 

4. long journeys take even longer

5. have to know how it works (part of the fun though!)



Here I’ll list some specific destinations and the mode of transportation I recommend based on our experiences.  Obviously I will not be able to list everywhere, but on the posts from now on, I will try to have a little section stating whether to take public or private transport and why!

Iceland:  Iceland has pretty much no public transportation, so I highly recommend renting a car.  BUT…if you are only planning on taking tours to visit Iceland, and do nothing else, then renting a car would be quite useless!  When we went to Iceland, we did everything on our own and went everywhere on our own…so we definitely needed our own rental car!  (I currently do not have Iceland on WIYB right now, but look out for it because it is coming soon!)

London:  London lives and breathes public transportation. You can buy a week-long Oyster pass (online HERE or at any station in London) to use on any mode of public transportation for a very low cost.  Even if you do need a car a couple of time during your visit, you can always call a cab for those very few times. 

The oyster pass I highly recommend to use -- this is the cover that comes with it

Scotland:  Based on our itinerary for our trip to Scotland, we definitely needed a car!  There is public transportation in Scotland, but not as much as London for sure!  We stayed farther away from Edinburgh, where we spent most of our time, so we definitely needed a car!  Here is a link to one of my Scotland posts:  Scotland 2-Day Itinerary:  How to See the Best of Scotland in 2 Days.

Those are just a few select places that we have been to where we noticed a huge different in public versus private transportation, and hopefully you can see our reasoning behind our decision!  You can use the following guidelines when deciding what mode of transportation you want to use:

1. Family (kids, strollers, etc.)

2. Location (where you are staying and sites you will visit)

3. Type of city (public-transport-heavy — London, no public transport — Iceland

4. Your comfort!

5. Duration of stay (longer trip means higher car rental cost, vice-versa)

If you have any other questions or need help figuring out what to do, just let me know in the comments so others can benefit!  Quick tip:  remember to research the city you are traveling to and the types of transport that they have there before deciding on anything. You can use the information on this website or others to figure that out!


Hi, I’m Anya, a traveller with a backpack full of delightful memories from around the world. My website will inspire you to travel the world and see all the places you want to see. Not only that, on this website I help people understand that traveling is educational and fun. My mission is to promote travel around the world, and keep students and adults alike interested in educational, but fun travel. Have Fun Traveling!

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