The Amish are one of the most well-known subcultures in the United States, primarily for their refusal to engage in many of the world’s most common conveniences.
One of these conveniences is modern travel, which includes driving cars, captaining boats, piloting planes, and more.
But this leads to an important question: If the Amish don’t embrace modern travel, how do they move long distances?
After all, a horse and buggy is fine for going from a home to a local supply store. But it’s another issue if you’re going from Lancaster, PA to New York.
In this blog, we’ll answer this question, plus a few others that are related to it.
First, let’s answer the question itself.
How Do the Amish Travel Long Distances?
In short, the Amish travel long distances by getting rides.
This can include having a non-Amish friend drive them somewhere, paying a non-Amish person to drive them somewhere, taking public transit, or flying commercially.
However, there are still some strong differences among all of these transportation methods. So let’s take a look at each one, including how common each one is.
Transportation Method 1. Getting a Ride from a Non-Amish Friend
In many areas with an Amish population, there are commonly similar subcultures present around them. This can include Quakers, Mennonites, and other denominations that believe similar ideas to the Amish, but still engage in the conveniences of everyday life.
As a result, it’s fairly easy for an Amish person to get a ride somewhere from an Amish friend.
For example, despite the fact that Amish and Mennonites are distinct from one another, they tend to overlap in terms of their family names and religious observations.
So for areas with a solid Amish population, there are often also Mennonites around who are in contact with them and are willing to help them.
One of these methods of helping them is to drive them where they need to go, such as to doctor’s appointments, community events, job sites, and more.
However, this method of travel doesn’t always help the Amish at the times when they need it. After all, it’s easy to get a friend to drive you somewhere once, but it’s not so easy to ask them to do it every morning for six days out of the week.
So what if a friend can’t give an Amish person a ride?
Transportation Method 2. Paying a Non-Amish Person to Drive Them
This method of travel is much more common for Amish carpenters and other forms of journeyman employment.
Amish woodworking and carpentry is renowned in areas for its quality and craftsmanship. This is visible in areas like Lancaster, PA where the Amish live.
However, their work speaks for itself, and in wealthy areas like West Chester, PA, the Amish can be in high demand for their physical labor.
This results in an occupational demand in areas like Lancaster, PA to regularly drive Amish people to job sites.
Commonly, this is called “hauling Amish,” and it’s often done by people who are in-between jobs, well-connected to the Amish community, retired, or driving as a hobby (or some combination of these factors).
Hauling Amish can be fairly lucrative, especially if someone is perspicacious enough to work out a profit margin above the gas that would be required to drive, the time they’d invest in transportation, and more.
Hauling Amish is especially common when a group of Amish workers have to cross state lines to get to a job site, such as traveling into Maryland or New York.
Because the demand for their work is so high, it’s completely possible that the Amish would need to travel several hundred miles in a day just to complete a job.
If they’re not traveling long distances and they’re out of luck with a free ride, the Amish will often turn to another method of getting around.
Transportation Method 3. Public Transit
Public transit is often hard to find in Amish areas, as the Amish are commonly found in rural and less-populated areas of the country.
In other words, they’re not going to be able to hop on a subway or take a cab to where they want to go all the time.
When friendly rides and paying for a haul fail, the Amish often choose public transit to get around long distances.
This is especially popular in places like Lancaster, PA, which has a county-wide public transit system of buses.
However, it’s not so common in areas like Central Pennsylvania, where rural areas make it challenging for a profitable (or even break-even) transit company to do business.
As a result, you won’t find the Amish commissioning public transit in places where it’s simply too hard (or too expensive) to go.
However, you will find it in places like Lancaster, PA.
But even so, how do the Amish travel further than the next town over? How can they, say, get across the country?
Transportation Method 4. Flying Commercial
While the Amish are unable to pilot their own planes, they’re fully capable of spending on flying commercial.
In the event they can secure boarding passes for a flight, they have full range within their religious doctrine to hop on a plane and fly across the country or world.
In this case, buying a boarding pass is typically the major obstacle to this. Increasingly, flights are booked well in advance and an Amish person can’t just “show up” at an airport and expect a flight to their desired destination.
So in the event an Amish person does need to travel great distances (which typically doesn’t happen that often anyway), they’ll likely get a ride.
If they can coordinate a flight, however, they’re fully capable of taking the plane.
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