The most underrated and overrated ways to travel in 2019

Here are the most underrated and overrated ways to travel in 2019.

UNDERRATED

AIRPORT HOTELS

These once ugly, bare-bones facilities have been reinvented and upgraded. Many now provide not just convenience but luxuries, pools, spa facilities and good restaurants.

COLD-CLIMATE CRUISING

The cruise industry's bread-and-butter destinations the Mediterranean and Caribbean, ship itineraries that follow the sun, and Australia's enviable location in mostly balmy waters have all created the perception that cruises are all about fun in warm places. Not so. A growing interest in polar regions, coupled with interest in (and the effects of) global warming, has seen steady growth in cruises to cold climates.

PREMIUM ECONOMY 

The sweet spot between economy and business. Just ensure you choose one that's a notable upgrade from cattle class. Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines are all safe bets.

OVERNIGHT TRAINS

A sleeper train is a thing of rare beauty, a world within a world that races through the night, a mode of transport that provides an experience, a social melting pot that doubles as accommodation. You will meet people on an overnight train – people from all over the world. You will thrill to the endless click-clack of wheels. You will eat, you will drink, you will sleep, and you will arrive. There's no better way to do it. 

AIRPORT MASSAGES

Time to spare between flights? Spend it with a good massage therapist – and you'll be walking on air when everyone else is feeling lumpy and grumpy.

EURAIL PASSES

This is the old-school classic, and more people should be travelling by train around the continent. Grab a Rail Europe or Eurail pass and go. 

GALAPAGOS BY LAND

Restrictions on the number of boats allowed in the Galapagos have made land-based programs increasingly popular. They're a compelling alternative for those who need more flexibility or whose sea legs are a little shaky. There's accommodation on all four inhabited Galapagos Islands, which introduces the intriguing possibility of an island-hopping adventure.

FREE AIRPORT TRANSFERS 

There are few more welcome sights when arriving at a foreign airport at 3am, tired and jetlagged, than someone holding a sign with your name.

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CHINA AIRLINES

China Airlines is not to be confused with Air China, a carrier which often provides a memorable experience, though not for entirely the right reasons. China Airlines, meanwhile, is Taiwan's national carrier, with its hub in Taipei. The airline is comfortable and efficient, flying modern A350-900s in and out of Australia, with good in-flight entertainment and reasonable food.  

GAUTRAIN

Public transport isn't Johannesburg's strong point. The city's trains, buses and shuttle taxis are unreliable, crowded and often unsafe. But the Gautrain, inaugurated in 2012, has proved the sceptics wrong: it's a safe, punctual commuter rail network connecting OR Tambo International Airport with stations in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

TOKYO HANEDA AIRPORT

Name the best airport in Asia, or even the world: you would probably say Singapore Changi, right? Or possibly Hong Kong, or maybe even Seoul Incheon. And those hubs really are great. Still, we would respectfully like to offer a new champion: Tokyo Haneda .The Japanese capital's main and closest hub is seriously big and seriously busy and yet it manages to feel intimate and uncrowded, with world-leading facilities that are so easy to access. 

SELF-DRIVE BOATING HOLIDAYS

Consider this like a road trip on the water: taking control of your own vessel, taking friends or family on board and setting out to explore rivers or canals or the open ocean. You can do this "bareboating" in the Whitsundays. You can do it cruising the canal networks of southern France. 

LAX

Los Angeles' booming international hub is still not exactly good, particularly if you find yourself having to transit between terminals in a hurry. But the way people talk about LAX you'd expect it to be an absolute horror show – and these days, it's really not. Fly in and out of the Tom Bradley Terminal and you are in for a pleasant surprise.

MUNICH INTERNATIONAL

Munich's impressive international airport has its own beer garden and brewery, a huge children's play area complete with child-care specialists and a grown-ups' lounge, a fully equipped fitness centre, "nap cabs", similar to a capsule hotel, available for napping by the hour, an impressive VIP wing, and even a mini-golf course. And yet it's still not famous. 

OVERRATED

SELF-SERVE ELECTRIC SCOOTERS

What sounds like a good way to reduce reliance on vehicles can turn into Scootergeddon if left unregulated.

SILLY AIRLINE SAFETY VIDEOS

Comedians, movie characters and distracting world locations are a clever marketing tool, but the old-fashioned pre-flight video provided far more clarity about safety.

GYMS ON CRUISE SHIPS 

Memo: One treadmill, a stationary bike and weights that only go up to five kilometres in a spare linen cupboard, do not constitute a gym.

MOST NECK PILLOWS

Are a pain in the neck. Except for the foam memory Cabeau versions that lock you into what's more like a brace, and actually work.

QUIET AIRPORTS

The trouble with airports that no longer make announcements? They don't actually announce that – so suddenly the odds are much higher on you missing your flight.

AFTERNOON TEA ON CRUISE SHIPS

Nobody needs more sustenance between their buffet lunch and three-course dinner. Yet we gobble down boring sandwiches and sponge cakes anyway, then feel sick all afternoon.

INFLIGHT STREAMING SERVICES

You download six plug-ins and restart your computer three times only to find the Wi-Fi is so slow the movie is unwatchable. Inflight streaming would be fantastic if only it worked. 

CONTRIBUTORS: Ben Groundwater, Brian Johnston, Catherine Marshall, Rob McFarland, Kerry van der Jagt, Sue Williams  

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