International transportation plays a key and fundamental function in an increasingly associated world. Experts estimate that distribution logistics has expanded by 170 percent in the last two decades and that the developing world has now exceeded the developed world in terms of the volume of commodities handled.

In this article, we’ll look at three different ways to carry freight throughout the world: ground transportation, ocean freight, and air freight. There are parallels and distinctions across the three, as well as varying costs and benefits. And, of course, a lot depends on the type of cargo you’re transporting. Let’s have a look at all of them at the same time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. And, as with anything else, it’s up to you to weigh your options. We all know that, in the sphere of transportation, cargo, and logistics, sea freight and air freight services have been vying to outdo each other as the preferred forwarding option for nearly a century.


Land Transport

Surface transportation is without a doubt the oldest, most immediate, most flexible, and most widely used mode of short-distance travel, particularly in the twentieth century due to the speed and comfort of asphalt and the introduction of freeways.

Land, or “ground” shipment, might take the form of a train or a truck. Because it is not always possible to locate a production facility near ports due to countries’ restricted coastlines, ground transportation is required to convey cargo from its origin to the airport or seaport and subsequently to its destination in air and sea shipments.

Land transportation is often less expensive than air, but more expensive than ocean transportation, especially in poor countries with inefficient inland infrastructure. A door-to-door shipment, also known as multimodal transport, is the transportation of cargo by vehicles straight from the shipper’s location to the destination.
Deliveries are made by trucks and railways to seaports and airports, where bulk goods are handled. As previously said, this mode of transportation is suitable for short and medium distances, and it provides a “door to door” service when compared to other modes of transportation.

However, if the recipient of the products lives in a remote location that is difficult to access, land transportation can be the most exhausting and expensive mode of transport. It is generally recommended for short or very short excursions; it is not recommended for transporting a product thousands of kilometers distant. Another disadvantage of ground transportation is pollution: the necessity to adhere to ever-stricter limits for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions is reducing the usage of road transportation.


Sea Transport

Ocean freight (also known as sea freight) is the most frequent mode of transport for importers and exporters, accounting for 90% of all commodities shipped worldwide.

Sea transport is used to move non perishable commodities over long distances; it is, in fact, the most cost effective mode of transportation, but it is also the slowest. Depending on the distance and services available, the weather can last anywhere from a few days to months. In comparison to competitors by land and air, which have far more limited capabilities, this mode of transportation has the advantage of being able to transfer vast quantities of materials.

Finding a suitable connecting network with the hinterland after the products have arrived in the port is becoming increasingly difficult. Sea transport, on the other hand, remains the optimum mode of transport for long distances and large international loads, provided that the company’s turnover covers the price of the service.


Air Transport

When it comes to air transportation, the main benefit is speed: a product can reach the other side of the world in a matter of days, usually no more than 10 days, depending on the technical time required for the organization. The cost, which is more than sea and land transportation, is one of the disadvantages.
Then there’s the environmental impact: according to some estimates, a thousand kilos of cargo emits 500 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer flown on a contemporary airplane. When a merchant ship is employed, however, the emissions are decreased to 15 grams per kilometer. As a result, air travel pollutes the environment far more.



A commercial ship is strongly recommended for transporting non-perishable items, such as feed and cereals, as well as equipment and machinery of various types of raw materials, such as coal, minerals, iron, steel, sand, and so on.

Airfreight, on the other hand, is recommended for transferring perishable or high economic value products, such as gems or works of art, as long as they are not huge materials, due to the lower hold dimensions. Overland transportation is required to complete the other two modes of transportation, allowing for a wide dispersion across the territory.

The ‘best’ means of transportation are determined by your needs. As you may have seen, there is no particular way of cargo shipping that is superior to the others. Cost and risk should be calculated based on the type of goods and the urgency of the delivery, as well as present disruptions.

Get protection against the loss or damage of ships, cargo, terminals, and any other mode of transport used to transfer, acquire, or hold property between points of origin and final destination.

Get protection against the loss or damage of ships, cargo, terminals, and any other mode of transport used to transfer, acquire, or hold property between points of origin and final destination. Learn more about Marine Insurance and Aviation Insurance.