Planes, Trains and Automobiles…Bikes, Buses and Boats. The terrain and method we use for transportation in a dream is a helpful clue as to what area of our life the dream is referring.

We can never say that a bicycle always means X and a plane Y. Even though dreams of travel and transportation devices are common themes, each dream is unique and deserves thorough observation of the vehicle, terrain and any paradoxes that illustrate deeper meaning, for instance a bus that flies in the sky.

Using the example of a bicycle we may note that it can only easily be operated by one person, assuming it is a bicycle built for one. It is therefore the perfect metaphor for how the dreamer navigates his or her personal life. This bike-riding dream might also be directing our attention to the choices we are making, or need to make, relative to our life path.

If we dream we are on a bicycle built for one and someone else is sitting on the seat steering, we might wonder if we are as in control of our life as we think we are. Who is controlling this part of our life? We may find that answer by reflecting on who is controlling the dream bike. It could be any number of people or things ranging from the familiar to the abstract.

Each possible scenario leads the dream meaning in a different direction. Having one’s mother operating one’s bike is entirely different than having one’s childhood teddy bear at the helm. While there is most certainly a general and universal understanding of “mother” and “teddy bear”, the mother and teddy bear also have a unique layer of meaning to the dreamer, as well as to any people who are contemplating the meaning of the dream.

The type of road upon which we ride is also significant. If we are on a narrow dirt path it may be speaking to the earthy, intimate journeys we make. If, on the other hand, the road is a freeway filled with cars, buses and loud, noisy dirty trucks, we may feel as though we are trying to navigate our little life against the backdrop of a cacophonous, chaotic world. This might refer to our work, family, community, country, political party, or anything that moves us in our daily life.

Trains, automobiles, bikes and buses in waking life travel on the ground. Trains move on tracks and so a dream of a train might signify that we are “on-track,” unless of course it is derailed! Then perhaps we are headed off course or in need of taking a new route. We cannot know for certain what this dream activity means unless we specifically work in relation to the dreamer, however, it is easy to make projections based on this little bit of knowledge.

The word automobile means self-mobile, so whenever this dream image appears it is likely the dreamer is engaged in movement of some sort related to the personal level, either individually or with immediate family and close friends. Again, what an automobile means in a dream is dependent on the dream activity. Is the dreamer in the passenger seat of his or her car while a mysterious force drives, or is the dreamer driving an enormous Humvee through a cobblestone street in an ancient city?

Buses are similar to cars in that they travel on roads, but they carry many more people and so this image might convey a message about traveling in a group or somehow being moved in a public situation.

Planes, on the other hand, travel primarily in the sky unless they are taking off, landing or parked. The sky has often been thought of as the place where God or Spirit resides. It is easy, therefore, to see a plane as a vehicle for navigating the realm spirit. If a person dreams of traveling via plane, it is possible the dream is speaking to the dreamer’s spiritual life, or a way in which she has reached new heights. Perhaps, even, she has lofty ideals.

If a plane, on the other hand, only moves forward down a runway or ventures onto the freeway, it is easy to assume that the dreamer is moving forward quickly, but not necessarily on a new level of awareness.

A common dream theme regarding planes is the difficulty the dreamer has in getting to the airport or in dealing with his or her luggage. Perhaps what we learn here is that the dreamer is having a hard time “taking off” in a new venture or idea, or perhaps his or her metaphoric baggage, those things that weigh us down emotionally and intellectually, are getting in the way of the dreamers need or desire to move forward in life.

Another characteristic of a plane is that in waking life it travels faster than most other, if not all, vehicles. A plane, then, might represent the dreamer’s quick transition from one station in life to another, or a rapid spurt of growth.

Boats and other craft, like jet skis, maneuver water which is often equated with the realm of emotion or the unconscious, that which is unknown to us or simply “not-yet-speech-ripe.”

Like the dreams of bikes, cars or buses, boats come in many shapes and sizes. Is the dreamer alone in a kayak or aboard a 400 passenger ship? At sea or on a small creek? Is there a big boat in a small lake, or a small boat on a big ocean? If water is emotion, then boats are an indication of how we are experiencing the emotional realm.

In my experience dreams are more often symbolic and metaphoric than literal, but a boat could just be a boat, a plane a plane and a bicycle a bicycle. It’s always worth asking if the dream is a warning of a literal and potential future. A car crash in a dream can be a metaphor, or it can be a warning, or it can be both. Pay attention to the dream scenario, record your dream and remember it. If you encounter a situation in waking life that is similar to your dream crash, take heed and proceed with caution.