Travels with my Art

Paintings and Photographs inspired by Travels Around the World

Anchor Chains, Plane Motors and Train Whistles

Do you know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.

These are not my words, but those of one of my favourite film characters of all time, George Bailey (James Stewart) from the classic 1946 movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘.

When I embark on pretty much any journey by boat, plane or train, and I am all packed, checked in, on board, ready and waiting to go, these words always come to mind. Then, there is a rush of adrenaline coupled with a childish feeling of excitement as we actually set off.

But which mode of transport is the best?



Trains are probably my favourite way of travelling. They are an environmentally friendly option and give you the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the scenery of whatever country you are travelling around. Also there is a great feeling of freedom as there are no seat-belts and no restrictions, and you can pretty much come and go as you please.

On the negative side, they can sometimes be overcrowded and often the toilets are dirty or dysfunctional. Whenever I enter a train toilet, I always have a very vivid flashback to a toilet I was once forced to visit on a second class sleeper train in India nearing the the end of its 36 hours journey – let’s just say it made Bobby Sands’ cell look like a surgeon’s operating table.


And Boats


Far away from the hustle and bustle of life on firm land, boat travel gives you a truly relaxing and unique travel experience. Time seems to slow down so much that it is almost as if it disappears altogether.  Economically and environmentally they are a good option and the fresh air can lift anyone’s emotions.

The negative side of travelling by boat has to be the overwhelming feeling of nausea which always creeps up on you at some point on any journey by sea. Travelling regularly from Sweden to England across the North Sea I experienced some rather choppy  ferry rides, which resulted in lots of vomiting, usually done by my children. And so for me travel by sea will always be synonymous with a putrid whiff of sick. Another factor about travel by boat which can sometimes bring on a feeling of nausea is the on-board entertainment.

 And Planes

​Whether you like flying or not, you can not deny the fact that it is the most time-efficient mode of transport. Statistically, it is the safest way to travel and because your luggage is taken off your hands, you don’t need to worry about it every five minutes. If you are travelling with kids, especially on long-haul flights, the movies and nibbles can be a godsend. But there’s no way around the fact that flights are bad news for the environment.

If I am honest, I am not a huge fan of flying. It’s not only the environmental aspect which makes me not a fan, I just find it, well, really boring. My problem with flying lies with the fact that the experience of flying is devoid of wanderlust. When you fly you have a homogeneous experience – wherever you are in the world it always seems to be the same as everywhere else, the same food, the same uniforms, even the airports are the same colour and have the same architecture. For me, it feels like being trapped in a lift for a few hours, with access to a stash of complimentary nuts.


And now for the rest, well, some of them

For me, one of the highlights of travelling is taking a ride on the many different types of transport in whatever country or city I am in.

Bicycles, piki-pikis, bijajis, tuk-tuks,  autorickshaw, motorbikes, boda-bodas, watertaxis, hovercrafts, barco de totoras, dalar-dalars, falukas, faniculars, gondolas, trams, buses, cars, catamarans, camels, elephants, mules…

Here are just some of the ways I have travelled around the world: by piki-piki in Kigali, tuk tuk in Bangkok, tram in Lisbon, mule in Morocco, barco de totora on Lake Titicaca, matatu in Nairobi, hydrofoil in around the Greek Islands, motorbike in the Cook Islands, Trolley Bus in Saint Petersburg, cyclo in Hanoi, rickshaw in Kolkata, yellow cab in New York, bicycle in Amsterdam, TGV in France, the underground or red double-decker bus in London.

Five in a Bijaji in Kigamboni, Tanzania

And in case the trains and boats and planes sounds familiar, here it is the classic Bacharach and David song performed by Billy J Kramer. Incidentally, I incidentally nearly always have this earworm going through my mind, along with the George Bailey quote, whenever I travel by trains and boats and planes.


Now it’s over to you – which is your favourite mode of transport when you are travelling?  Vote then comment below with your favourite mode of transport and let me know why?
[polldaddy poll=9860729]

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  1. thewonderer86 October 23, 2017

    That is quite a graphic description of the that Indian train toilet – love it! Travelling by train has to be my personal favourite – especially in India, where you can sit next to an open door and feel the scenery whizzing past, or where musicians climb out through the windows and sit on the roof, or the chai wallah comes along….

  2. thewonderer86 October 23, 2017

    I love trains especially in India, where practically anything goes. Indeed the only downside is the toilet facilities!

  3. Naziya Shaik October 23, 2017

    Amazing I like traveling especially in Train.

  4. HelsinkiBudapest October 24, 2017

    Trains, boats, planes. We’d go on random train rides when I was little, so that was always fun. For me it’s along the lines of: best group stories when traveling – always on a train, closely followed by boats. Best story when traveling alone or with 1-2 other people – plane.
    Actually the very best stories happened on boats, but I seem to have more train stories.

    • Ali Dunnell October 27, 2017

      Good point – I think travelling solo on a plane can be interesting – although I actually enjoy travelling solo on all transport 🙂

      • HelsinkiBudapest October 27, 2017

        Same here, about the solo travel. I’ve been on the move – on average six weeks, though in my adult life sometimes weekly – since I was about three months old, so I must have done it all. Its funny though which types of memory stick out.

  5. Sarah October 25, 2017

    We almost always travel by boat, and the smell of saltwater can’t be beat!! But the nostalgia of a train whistle is amazing!

  6. Momma To Go October 25, 2017

    Okay, I will admit, Ive never seen Its a Wonderful Life! But I do love a good train ride.Boats can be rocky for me LOL. I like flying too, dont mind it. Fun to think about all the modes of transport around the world!

    • Ali Dunnell October 27, 2017

      Oh you have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life – it really is THE best feel good movie ever (and James Stewart is amazing in it) Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  7. Linda de Beer October 25, 2017

    I prefer trains and am lucky to live in Austria where we have stunning scenery pass us by. Cable cars to get people up mountains are another popular mode of transport here. I agree, when in another country, it is a must to try out unique ways to get from point A to B.

  8. ellepollicott October 25, 2017

    This was a really interesting article! My favourite way to travel has to be by plane, just so I can get there quicker. However, I liked the train from Bergen to Oslo, and the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki!

    • Ali Dunnell October 27, 2017

      Oh – I’d love to travel around Norway by train. But I agree, planes are a necessity. When you travel by plane, everything is just easier. I now travel with my three children and flying is a godsend 🙂

  9. suzystories October 25, 2017

    I love this post! I also adore train travel, such an efficient way to see as much scenery as possible! The more unusual modes of transport always get me excited. I once took a ride in a hot-air balloon, while it’s not a long term approach it certain provided incredible views in a very novel way!

  10. Anuradha Goyal October 26, 2017

    I so agree with you. Trains are romantic, boats are meditative and planes are a necessity.

  11. Toni October 26, 2017

    I love train travel best. I love looking out the window and seeing the landscapes change. I am not a fan of flying as it is boring. Plus I hate feeling like the plane will fall out of the sky. I don’t understand planes at all haha.

  12. Amrita Sen October 26, 2017

    This is a lovely post. Even I am fond of train whistling.. though cannot say the same thing about the sound of planes.

    • Ali Dunnell October 27, 2017

      I actually like the sound when the plane is about to take off – and always feel that rush of excitement – but I do prefer boats and trains 🙂

  13. Flying Fluskey October 26, 2017

    Oh I couldn’t agree more. I love, love, love train travel. I love that you can see the scenery, it can be your hotel, you can wander around and a train picnic is always fun,
    Travelling by boat always reminds me of island hopping in Thailand and it was a great time.

  14. ansh997x October 27, 2017

    The best of visiting these countries is the tuktuk rides. So much fun 😀

  15. Theresa Ladner October 27, 2017

    I totally understand the pros and cons you have listed for each mode of travel. Trains are great (except for the sanitary concerns), boats are great on calm water, and planes will get you there faster but you feel like a sardine. All good!

  16. Alexander Popkov October 27, 2017

    You have some really cool photographs. My preferences are trains and bicycles somehow. They look more “organic” to me… I guess. I can sit in a train and look out of the window for hours.

    • Ali Dunnell October 28, 2017

      Thanks for the positive feedback on my photos 🙂 I also like the word ‘organic’ for describing train and bicycle travel.

  17. mapcameratravel1 October 27, 2017

    Travelling by train in india apt these days .. however I personally enjoy boats n cruises a lot.. there’s something unique about travelling in the middle of the sea 🙂 🙂

  18. mapcameratravel1 October 27, 2017

    I personally enjoy boats n cruises a lot.. there’s something unique about travelling in the middle of the sea 🙂 🙂

    • Ali Dunnell October 28, 2017

      I have never been on a cruise but have done lots of travel by boat, longest has only been an overnight ride. Maybe next time 🙂

  19. Monica October 28, 2017

    I prefer trains for being safer, but I like planes for getting me from point a to b quite fast. I’ve traveled with boats, but I can’t say these are in my top 5. If possible, I’d rather avoid them :))

  20. moimehr October 28, 2017

    There is nothing more scenic and beautiful than a train ride. For comfort and time we opt for planes but nothing beats the charm of having a cuppa by the side of a window seat in train. Lovely article.

  21. Ajay Arora October 28, 2017

    Great insights and article on the modes of transport ! If it’s not long distance, I prefer hitting the road else its train or a flight !

  22. arv! October 28, 2017

    what a lovely post. By the way, I have heard that trains in Tanzania were built by Chinese Govt assistance. Is that true?

  23. Karolina | But, First, Tea! October 29, 2017

    Planes, trains, boats, cars, horses – Love’m all! 🙂 I like how you chose those pictures:)

  24. Joanna October 31, 2017

    I prefer traveling by trains of by cars. I don’t like flying at all and even if I do take many flights, I never feel comfortable on them.

  25. MeaghanC October 31, 2017

    Love the joy of traveling that you’ve captured in this post. While unexpected delays are frustrating, traveling is a privilege and not one everyone gets to enjoy. No matter if it is a boat, train or plane (although my vertigo and trains don’t mix well!) I always try to approach traveling with a joyful appreciation. Thanks for this wonderful post!

  26. Boarding Call October 31, 2017

    although I love relaxing boat rides, I’ve gotta say trains are my favorite. love the way they seem to rock you to sleep and they are perfect for catching up on reading!

    • Ali Dunnell November 2, 2017

      Reading and travelling are two of my favourite things 🙂 They are THE perfect place for a good book, I’ve had many a great journey accompanied with a good book.

  27. Ragini Puri November 2, 2017

    I find the idea of crossing seas on ships pretty adventurous, have never really undertaken such a journey so can only romanticise about long boat rides! For now, train journeys are my favourite!

  28. Andrew Petcher December 6, 2017

    Love that George Baily quote – also one of my favourites!

  29. Sarah - Borders & Bucket Lists May 5, 2018

    Huh I’d never thought of airplanes as a “homogenous experience,” but it’s so true! You could be on a plane, and you would really have no way of knowing where you were headed if you didn’t have your ticket. Such an interesting thought.

    • alidunnell May 6, 2018 — Post Author

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comment 🙂

  30. SecretMoona May 5, 2018

    I love this post! Specially your train pictures reminds me of my family trip to Mali. I used to go there every year. I loved and hated the train journey, it was hot, packed with people, merchandise etc….

    • alidunnell May 6, 2018 — Post Author

      Train travel here in East Africa can be a bit like that… but ultimately, I love the experience of train travel 🙂

  31. Kemi May 6, 2018

    What have boats ever done to you??? LMAO 🤣🤣 I love trains&boats and I prefer my air travel boring and uneventful because I’m a very nervous flyer. *Shudder*.

    • alidunnell May 6, 2018 — Post Author

      Some VERY choppy crossing on the English channel, Baltic Sea and North Sea, where there were more sick bags than passengers… I swear I can still smell the whiff of sick now!

      • Kemi May 6, 2018

        Oh wow! That bad? I’ve never been sea-sick, then again, never been on very choppy waters. The North Sea must’ve been crazy. I used to watch Deadliest Catch on crab catching in the Bering Sea and those waves were gigantic!!!

        • alidunnell May 6, 2018 — Post Author

          Not so much me, but my three children… nothing like wiping sick off a child, getting them all changed, for them to throw up, followed by both brother and sister. Although I was sick on the English Channel crossing from on a school trip to France once, but then so was everyone else 🙂

  32. Nicola May 7, 2018

    Love all your idea’s and fantastic pictures here. I also love travelling by train. Tuktuks and elephants are far more adventurous though!

    • alidunnell May 9, 2018 — Post Author

      I’m going to be honest, I’ve never travelled by elephant or camel in fact I have never even ridden on either of these, actually I’ve only ridden a horse a couple of times… but you must try a ride in a tuktuks – they are great, like a cross between a motorbike and a car!

  33. Alex Trembath May 7, 2018

    Cool article! I never thought I’d say this but overnight buses have become my favourite form of travel transport. Especially around South America where the buses are often really spacious and comfy. Love waking up with a new place to explore 🙂

    • alidunnell May 9, 2018 — Post Author

      I know what you mean – I did so much overnight bus travel in the past, all over the globe. But now with my children, it gets a bit more tricky… maybe when they are a bit older I will introduce them to it. I remember my secret to a convey sleep on a bus was to turn my hoodie into a blanket and pillow, by putting it on backwards and rolling up a sleeve!

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