The Strangest Methods of Travel Around the World

When most people thing about "strange transportation" these days, they think about futuristic innovations—and namely, Elon Musk's Hyperloop. The items on this list, to be sure, are not as paradigm-shifting as the Hyperloop, even if a couple of them probably seemed quite modern in their day. They're nonetheless some of the strangest ways to travel around the world. And the best part is that you can ride them today—no waiting required!

  • 01 of 07

    The High Seas: Travel by Cargo Ship

    Nautical Vessel On Sea Against Sky
      Richard Steinberger / EyeEm/Getty Images 

    Most of the examples of strange transport around the world on this list are local or regional. If you want to use an odd form of transportation to make an international journey, look no further. 

    Traveling by cargo ship isn't glamorous, and it isn't particularly fast or efficient. It requires a level of flexibility that makes it unrealistic for anyone who has a full-time job, at least one that requires them to be in a set destination most of the year, or to have consistent internet access. 

    On the other hand, it's probably one of the remaining few truly avant garde ways to travel around the world. And it's yet to be romanticized like other slow trudges, including the Trans-Siberian Railway and United's "Island Hopper" flights in the Pacific, which bloggers and other prominent travelers have made seem glamorous, in spite of the fact that they're inconvenient.

  • 02 of 07

    Central America: Chicken Bus

    Chicken bus antigua in Guatemala
      andyjkramer/Getty Images 

    The good news? There aren't chickens aboard so-called "chicken" buses in Central America, and they therefore incur passengers no risk of contracting Avian influenza or any other bird-borne virus.

    The bad news? You'll be packed as tight as a slaughterhouse-bound chicken as you sit inside a camioneta de pollo, the Spanish name for the colorful de-commissioned school buses that run long- and short-haul routes within Central America, mostly in countries such as Honduras and Guatemala.

  • 03 of 07

    Wuppertal, Germany: Suspended Railway

    Wuppertal Suspension Railway Plus People View During Annual Flea Market In North Rhine Westphalia Germany Western.Europe
    LIVINUS/Getty Images

    If you've ever watched the Amazon series "Man in the High Castle," you've seen futuristic technology from Germany's alternate past, among it a Berlin monorail. While you'll have to travel a bit beyond Germany's capital to see the country's only current example of single-rail mass transit, you'll gain an unexpected reward for your travails.

    That's because the railway system of Wuppertal, in western Germany's North Rhine-Westaphalia state, is suspended, and appears more like a rollercoaster at first glance than a people mover. It's one of the strangest ways to travel not only in Germany or Europe, but indeed in the entire world.

  • 04 of 07

    The Philippines: Jeepney

    Passengers sit atop a very full jeepney near Iligan on the Filipino island of Mindanao.
      aaronnystrom/Getty Images

    Think Manila's oft-maligned Metro system is the most packed way to travel through the Philippines? Think again.

    To be sure, you needn't be in the heart of an Asian megacity to experience the chaos of traveling by Jeepney, which as its name suggests is a modified Jeep vehicle. Open to the elements and hollowed out to accommodate as many passengers as possible (Filipinos are constantly testing the limits of this), Jeepney have achieved infamy but are also rather practical, from the mountainous rice terraces of Ifugao province in the north, to tropical beach islands like Boracay and Palawan.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Venice, Italy: The Vaporetto

    Vaporetto in Venice Italy
    Richard Baker via Getty Images

    If you've never been to Venice, it would be tempting to assume that the only way to travel through the city by boat is to book a scenic (and expensive) gondola ride. In fact, marine transport in Venice can be an extremely practical and affordable way to get around.

    The best way to experience a vaporetto water taxi? Ride one to outlying islands in the Venetian archipelago. Whether you choose Murano, which is famous for its glass-blowing, or colorful Burano and its rainbow-spectrum row houses, it's surprisingly easy to try out this surprisingly strange way of exploring Venice.

  • 06 of 07

    Shanghai, China: Maglev to Nowhere

    Shanghai Maglev
    James Leyense via Getty Images

    If you've got your ear to the ground, it's no secret that China is at the forefront of high speed rail development. While this fact is not without controversial caveats (namely, that China has pirated much of its HSR technology from nearby Japan and its half-century old Shinkansen), the rapid transformation of China is remarkable nonetheless.

    The journey hasn't been without its speed bumps, however, with some of them more conspicuous than others. Case in point, the Shanghai Maglev. While built with the intent of wowing visitors to China's most Western and economically prosperous metropolis, the world's fastest train is actually a huge letdown. Rather than taking you to Shanghai's city center, the Shanghai Maglev drops you at Longyang Road, about 20 minutes from the Lujiazui financial district by subway.

    Given the Line 2 of the Shanghai Metro was extended all the way to Pudong Airport in 2010, it might make more sense to simply ride the slow train the entire way (the journey time isn't very different), or to drop the approximately 200 yuan required for a taxi to the city "Above the Sea" (the direct translation of the Chinese word Shang Hai into English).

  • 07 of 07

    Washington, DC: US Capitol Subway System

    US Capitol Subway System
    Mark Wilson via Getty Images

    The U.S. Capitol Subway System transports members of the House and Senate to and from the chambers with its antiquated vehicles moving at a slower speed than the cars on the streets of Washington DC.

    One big advantage of the U.S. Capitol Subway System, however, is security. Security staff ensure that representatives and senators can safely enter and exit their places of work. Members of the public are only allowed inside while accompanied by official staff.