Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 44

In this week’s chapter we’re given two more means of transportation so Rosie’s question is all about this abundance of magical movement.

We’ve been introduced to so many types of wizarding transport now throughout the series, and now we have both apparition and portkeys being introduced. The portkeys obviously play a massive role in the end of this book but my question this week is why do wizards need so many different types of transport? Why don’t they all apparate or take the floo network as they seem so proficient in getting magical people from place to place so quickly? Why the preference for uncomfortable brooms?

Let us know your thoughts below and they just might be read out on the next episode of Alohomora!

  • Daniel Sharp

    Why do Muggles walk anywhere when we have cars, planes, bicycles, skateboards… you get the picture. Apparation is dangerous, Floo powder is costly and creating your own portkey is against the law. Using a broomstick is not only free (once you have paid for the broom) but flying appears to be the only method of transportation that is not able to be tracked by the Ministry.

    • DolphinPatronus

      I don’t think making a portkey is illegal but I think it requires a permit from the ministry

      • Daniel Sharp

        Good point although it does make them impractical if you have to apply for a permit every time you want to go somewhere.

        • DolphinPatronus

          i think they were mean’t more for mass travel not so much for everyday use

          • Mike Rohrssen

            I think you can make a portkey without a permit but it’s advised against as Dumbledore clearly can do it very easily.

          • DolphinPatronus

            I didn’t mean that it isn’t possible I meant it isn’t legal

  • mudbloodandproud1996

    it is almost like each form of transportation is there for a different reason. apparation can be used if you are travelling alone or with one other person for side along apparation; brooms would be used for a short/medium length journey for one or a few wizards, as it has been mentioned that brooms are somewhat uncomfortable; floo powder would be used for transport to a specific location through a fireplace for an unlimited number of people, and a portkey would be used for a small or medium group of people when, like they did in the book, needed to get somewhere at a certain time. to me it seems there are so many types of transport to accommodate for wizards needs. i think apparation and floo powder would be used the majority of the time, but the other types of transport would be for those who need different modes of travel to get where they need to go.

  • Aneke

    And there are even more possibilities that weren’t mentioned yet like the Knight Bus or thestrals. I agree that every type of transport probably serves a special need and I imagine that as soon as the wizard community finds a travel situation that isn’t covered yet, they would probably invent something new. And I wonder whether brooms are really used for transport by so many wizards, as you said, they are uncomfortable, unsafe, it takes much longer than apparation and you are exposed to the weather. Their only advantage really seems to be that the ministry can’t track them and I imagine that’s why the order used them in book 7 but apart from that I think we never see brooms used for transportation!?

  • MrMagic24

    I have two opinions:
    One is that not every form of transportation is for all people. Some muggles get sick in cars or planes, some have difficulty walking, Perhaps wizards are the same, some get sick using portkeys, floo powder, flying, etc. Remember that not everyone can apparate, it’s supposedly difficult and some prefer brooms because they are “slower but safer”. Thus variety is important.
    Another reason is that wizards need to travel in ways that avoid detection. Instantaneous travel seems to be a theme, as it’s a great means of doing so. Brooms and cars are perhaps the sole exceptions to methods of travel that avoid detection, but these two attempt to fit into muggle society instead. So the need for secrecy presents another reason for various methods of travel.

  • LovegoodHufflepuff

    Wizards have different ways of transportation, the same as muggles. I personally prefer traveling by train rather than by bus. Why walk when you can get there faster with a bike or skateboard? Why fly when the train is so much better for the environment and sometimes cheaper too? Preference, convenience, and cost all matters when you make a choice for your travels.
    Also, not all wizard transportation can be used for every travel. In Deathly Hallows in the Godric’s Hollow chapter, Voldemort is abroad and rushes to get within the limit of apparition when Nagini calls for him. Maybe you can’t apparate over a certain distance. I’m sure the more powerful the wizard, the longer he or she can apparate.
    Hagrid says that Dumbledore prefers flying with Thestral when on business in London with the ministry. Even though he seems perfectly comfortable on broomstick. Preference, ability, and convenience.

    • DolphinPatronus

      I agree bottom line witches & wizards are still people just like muggles & everyone has their preference when it come to travel

  • HallowsMaster97

    Well each type of transportation has it’s pro’s and con’s.
    Floo Powder- is costly and some people may not have huge fireplaces to begin with. We see this problem in CoS where the Dursley’s have an electrical fireplace so it is not accessible with Floo powder.

    Broomsticks- here the price can vary and the speed depends on the model you have. Also, as we discussed, they do not seem to be very comfortable.

    Apparation- requires a lot of skill to master. Also can be very dangerous with splinching.

    There is also the obvious factor of the wizard’s comfort level. Some wizards may be afraid of the dangers involved with apparation, others may be afraid to fly, etc. So it all really comes down to what’s available to you and which form of apparation you’re comfortable with.

    P.S it was really cool to hear what I wrote in a british accent. Love the show guys x

  • The_Veil_of_Death

    Modes of transport in the wizarding society differ in terms of cost, speed, accessibility, safety and comfort. All have their advantages and drawbacks.

    Floo Powder is cheap (according to JK, it’s two Sickles a scoop) and easy to use, but only destinations equipped with a fireplace connected to the Floo Network are accessible.

    Apparition is fast and efficient, but it’s difficult and can be dangerous and unpredictable (and is only possible within a certain distance of the destination).

    Travel by Portkey is fast and safe but causes nausea in some people. Also, the creation of unauthorized Portkeys is punishable by law, so it seems that personal use is prohibited.

    Winged horses, thestrals, dragons and other creatures can be used to get around, but they are rare and some of them are dangerous.

    Enchanted Muggle vehicles are practical and comfortable but illegal.

    Given all this, it’s understandable that many wizards prefer a broom (a seat can be mounted on it to make it less uncomfortable).

  • Mukul Kandara

    If we are to compare apparition to cars then the way Arthur deals with splinching is like getting in a fender bender and swapping insurance details, losing points off you license and other paperwork that goes with that. However, as apparition is difficult (remember the three d’s; determination, destination and deliberation) splinching can also result in a fatality like a fatal car accident. That’s possibly a reason why some wizards would be adverse to apparition as they may have known someone or heard horror stories of splinching (and probably the Ministry would give out pamphlets of the horror stories to those who are close to getting their license; like pamphlets against speeding). As a result the other modes of transportation would seem safer to some people and it would work in the favour of the Ministry as they can keep track of some of it (like the floo network and portkeys) better than people who apparate. I think the Ministry can help those who have splinched but I don’t think they can track those who have successfully apparated (even if it’s illegal) unless they have some way to trace each and every apparition.

    Another reason why portkeys would be preferred over apparition is travelling long distances as apparition gets more difficult over longer distances (as does driving a car).

  • Bre Tapp

    Wizards have different modes of transportation, just like muggles do. They have apparition, floo network, portkeys and broomsticks they are the main modes of transport. We have cars, trains, buses, bikes and planes just to name a few. I think muggles have far more modes of transportation than wizards. The wizarding modes of transportation, parallel muggle modes of transportation. Apparition is like driving a car, like Rosie said in England you get your driving licence at 17 like apparition licence. In other countries it is around 17. Apparition like car driving, I imagine not everyone passes the test or wants to drive or apparate. Some people find driving, like apparating hard. The floo network is like bus and train stations. It costs a small amount and both don’t take alot of effort. Using the floo network does not take effort, apparition and riding a broomstick do. Like riding the train or a bus does not takes effort, driving a car and riding a bike does. Broomsticks are like bikes once they are bought it is free. It takes some skill, in the wizarding world there are toy broomsticks for young kids, like there is tricycles and bikes with training wheels.

  • DolphinPatronus

    my theory about the goblet being a portkey & the timing issue is that once it was put in place in the maze it was made into a portkey but instead of a very precise minute it was set with a large window of time. i’m sure the maze makers had a rough idea of how long it should take to get to the center & since “mad-eye” is the one that put it there he’d have an idea of when to set it for.

  • Ilovegingers

    I just found a nice quote in Quidditch Through the Ages (chapter 9) that says that before brooms were good enough to cross the Atlantic ocean wizards actually crossed it via ship. That shows that magical transport evolves just like muggle transport. And it also made me wonder whether there is another kind of transportation (except brooms), that could take you to another continent, floo powder seems to be limited to Britain and as we discussed, apparating such a distance would be too dangerous…

  • suprememugwump

    I agree with all the discussion below about why there are so many different kinds of transport: different types suit different needs and tastes.

    But what I really want to address is the part about why brooms. I just realized that all the other forms of wizarding transport we know about are exceedingly uncomfortable or, in the case of Apparition, unreliable over long distances (according to the Lexicon). You’re spinning at high speed in sooty fireplaces, being jerked by your navel, squeezing through a tight tube, sliding around in a purple bus or flying on an invisible animal (Thestrals are invisible to most witches and wizards, and are really rare so I don’t know if they would count as “common” transport). So, I’d argue that brooms are actually the most comfortable. Filming on them might have been uncomfortable, but real wizards have brooms with a built-in Cushioning Charm (see Quidditch Through the Ages). There are probably spells you can use to combat the wind, and there’s always Impervius for precipitation. Plus, brooms are just traditional. They’ve been around for centuries, and every magical family seems to have a few, so there’s a metaphorical comfort level there too.

    • Ilovegingers

      I think with brooms it could be like with bikes in our world, some people like traveling by bike even in winter or when it’s raining and some people rather take the bus, i think the main argument in favour of brooms is the tradition, as you said.

  • sgreybe

    I agree with what most everyone else is saying about preference, and the choices being for the different needs wizards have. I have one aside though: how does the floo network coordinate thousands of witches and wizards all floo-ing to potentially the same place at the same time (for example, Gringotts, or Diagon Alley?).

    • l.g.

      Perhaps, though the traveler doesn’t realize it, the magic moniters the fireplaces and makes a sort of que that releases wizards safely one at a time. Also, there is probably more than one fireplace to be connected to one spot (such as Diagon Alley), as is shown at least in the movie of OotP.

  • l.g.

    These forms of travel parallel forms of transport in the Muggle world. I imagine Portkeys are the wizard’s “bus” (no, not the Knight Bus), where a group of people all going to the same location convene at one place at the same time to reach their destination. Rosie points out apparition’s connection to driving, which requires a license and an increased level of experience to be accompanied, along with a high risk factor. Broomsticks are the “bicycles” of the magical world. Though travel takes longer, and may be a bit less comfortable, these are much more affordable and safer to use than the faster mode of Apparition. The Knight Bus is similar to airplanes, which allows people to travel great differences in a time of need. Though it may be faster than our aerial counterpart, I think the principles remain the same. Finally, the Floo network (as a form of transport, not communication) is very much the magical subway system. With multiple channels and a convienent way to get to busy places such as Diagon Alley and the Ministry of Magic, it is easy to see the parallels Jo has drawn between all of these various means of getting from one place to another.

  • Gus

    Portkeys, Floo Powder, Apparition, Side-along Apparition, House Elf Apparition, Knight Bus, Train, Magic underwatery ship, magic cars, flying magic cars, gigantic flying carriage, flying on thestrals, flying on hippogriffs, flying on dragons, flying with pheonixes, flying motorbikes, flying broomsticks, flying carpets, even flying itself!!

    Wow wizards sure love flying. Maybe that’s why they prefer brooms, because flying is fun!

  • Leah McCurdy

    I also think the emphasis on transport/travel and its abundance in the series comes from the great literary element of adventure … In a lot of ways, JKR wrote adventure stories, or her plots focus around adventure events. Naturally, adventure stories will include lots of details on transportation. With such variety in transportation, the adventure seems all the more unique and spectacular. Not to mention the fact that each different kind of transportation seems to involve a different kind of magic. Like Laura mentioned, many of us are fascinated by the way that people move about the environment or manage to move from place to place so it seems fitting that a world about wizards would reflect a wonderment with transportation!

  • Book7.co.uk

    Agree with everyone who says it adds to our sense of a well-imagined world with different cultures, traditions, fashions etc to have so many alternatives available (rather like the Muggle equivalents)… also, interesting that it is such a huge shock to see Voldemort flying unaided ‘like smoke on the wind’ at the start of DH – by the seventh book, we’ve become quite blasé about the various forms of wizarding transport and what you can or cannot do, so this is a great way to highlight the extent of Voldemort’s powers…

  • FreeElf101

    I see the portkey and broomstick methods as fairly old methods of transport. To me, appararion and the floo network seem like a reasonably new way of getting around. No matter how easy and effective these methods seem, I feel like the wizarding world is just trying to keep up tradition. For example; The only logical reason the Hogwarts express is still in service is tradition, otherwise they could all do side to side apparition into Hogsmeade or somewhere near and it would act like a chain reaction on a large scale for the whole school.

  • Also realistic that there are different levels of difficulty involved. We are told that Hermione ‘lacked confidence on a broomstick’ – so did Fleur and Neville. Ron struggles with Apparition and Charlie has to take the test twice. Even Floo Powder involves certain risks as Harry demonstrates the first time he uses it. According to Pottermore, the Knight Bus was designed for witches and wizards ‘who are Floo-sick, whose Apparition is unreliable, who hate heights or who feel frightened or queasy taking Portkeys’ – particularly, ‘the underage or the infirm’.

  • Usman Asaf

    I agree with all the comments before me about why there are so many forms of transportation, muggle transport evolved as our needs evolved. we started with riding horses, with invention of the wheel we shifted to carriages and then came the horse-less carriage (i.e. cars)… even in this day and age, our transport system evolution hasn’t stopped (the Meglev trains and recently the hyperloop). even with the continued evolution of transportation, we haven’t given up on the old way as people still ride horses. I admit for most ppl its a hobby in developed countries, but its still used as a means of transport in most undeveloped nations.

    In the wizarding world, most wouldn’t apparate as it does require training like driving and like driving, itll become harder (i would imagine) with increased distances. with the flo network, you would limited to the number of “stations” you have in the network itself like the subway. can we be sure that every single wizarding home is connected? i think its an option, like hogwarts, where you had a one time connection deal going on in HBP after christmas break. thats why brooms can be preferred over other modes of transport, ure guaranteed to reach the right destination without the risk of leaving body parts behind, and it doesnt need to be connected with anything. also i think its the only mode of wizard transport which provides an adrenaline rush like a sports car. for that reason alone i would prefer a broom as, like harry, id be having so much fun zooming around at high speed