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Casual Interstellar Travel

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Shepard: You traveled all the way home to walk your sister to school.
Ashley: It was only a dozen light years. Like a day's cruise. It's not like I was going to Earth or something.

In real life, so far as we can tell, interstellar travel is an epic undertaking. The distances involved are vast, and so for a timely journey, your speed must be equally colossal. To accelerate a ship to near light-speed and then to decelerate it again would necessarily require a huge quantity of energy. Not to mention the fact that, at those speeds, the tiniest dust particle becomes a deadly hazard. And if anything goes wrong, you're stuck hurtling through the depths of space with no chance of being rescued and no hope of escape. Although the popular idea of the speed of light imposing a kind of universal speed limit upon your travels is a misconception, you can forget maintaining any connection to your home planet; if you did ever decide to return after zipping around the galaxy, you would find that centuries had passed with everybody you knew long dead and gone. Not a prospect for the faint of heart.

In some Speculative Fiction settings, interstellar travel is depicted as expensive and at least moderately time-consuming, being mostly limited to governments and major commercial operations. But that's not here.

With this trope, interstellar travel is no more complex than booking a flight is today. In some cases, it's the equivalent of driving a car down a paved road.

Some stories use a teleportation network, while others simply decide that ships capable of traveling thousands or millions of times the speed of light are available to every Tom, Richard, and Harry via Hyperspace Lanes.

This is usually part and parcel of stories that treat planets like towns; interstellar voyages are thus little more than like intercontinental flights or at worst, like crossing an ocean in a steamship. If the Sci Fi Writers Have Any Sense Of Scale, then the scale of civilization surpasses our one planet easily. And probably mocks the Mundane Manifesto while it's at it.

This is usually done deliberately; works that use it err on the softer side of science fiction.

Related to Conveniently Close Planet. Sister Trope to Casual Interplanetary Travel. Beings capable of Shipless Faster-Than-Light Travel are not uncommon in such settings.


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  • Happy Heroes: Planet Xing has a train system that travels through space to other planets, but makes it to destinations as fast as a normal train ride would, with how far planets are from each other not being considered.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Variation in Lyrical Nanoha, which has Casual Interdimensional Travel. It looks and acts just like your typical Casual Interstellar Travel, complete with Cool Starships traveling through what looks like hyperspace, only they don't have to worry about Real Life distances between planets and tend to teleport people down to the surface rather than leave hyperspace and land. It's mostly done through magic. The "casual" part is subverted, since only Sufficiently Advanced Alien individuals with magical powers can casually travel interdimensionally, regular Earthlings don't even know of the existence of magic and other worlds. Even these individuals need to get permission from the Dimensional Administration Bureau.
  • In the hentai OVA Bondage Queen Kate, traveling to the far reaches of the galaxy is portrayed as being no more taxing than visiting another country is for humans today. The desert planet of Dune is known as a popular tourist destination.
  • If Macross Frontier is any indication, the colony fleets of Macross are a rather unconventional example. FTL travel via Space Folding is possible, but has large energy requirements and is unpredictable. Travel between stars however, is casual, and quite comfortable actually, since Frontier takes place on what is essentially a fleet of island-sized domeships containing huge sprawling metropolises, small oceans, green fields forests and farmland In SPACE! It's actually likely that the Frontier's citizens have a higher standard of living than the people of Earth, since the planet itself is recovering from a space war.
  • In one episode of Dirty Pair, Kei and Yuri decide to stop off on a planet, on their way to a dinner date on another planet, because they have a nice shopping mall there. Another depicts commercial interstellar space travel as more or less resembling modern airlines.
  • Averted in Dragon Ball, despite the series being very light on scientific accuracy. It takes Vegeta and Nappa a year to get to Earth, Bulma estimates that (even with the best man-made ship) it would take thousands of years to get to Namek, and, even with an advanced alien's ship, that particular journey takes at least two months. This is later done away with when Goku learns how to teleport (as long as he can "sense" some life energy at his destination, distance is irrelevant), and whatever method it is that Whis and his kin use to travel through space, which can cross entire universes in less than an hour.
  • While My Hero Academia does not actually feature this trope, Midoriya mentions that a famous person once said that if not for the emergence of Quirks (i.e. superpowers), which resulted in society being disrupted and many scientists studying them instead of other pursuits, society would be advanced enough that people would be able to vacation on other planets.
  • Subverted in Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Though large fleets move through space with seeming ease, it does take quite a bit of time. Reinhard's flight from Urvashi to Fezzan is stated to take three weeks.
    • It is also stated that the logistical cost of building and maintaining such fleets is enormous: The Empire has several gigantic fleets and artificial worlds/fortresses that would make Emperor Palpatine nod approvingly, but at the price of leaving many of its planet underdeveloped; the Free Planet Alliance does not fare much better: the constant state of war is taking the best engineers and the most apt workers away from civilian life, not counting the huge amount of resources spent on maintaining the Alliance's fleets: Fezzan is the most prosperous planet in The 'Verse precisely because it does not have to spend so much of its resources to build and maintain huge starfleets.
  • AKB0048: Thanks to the dualium, or in 0048's case, the Kirara Drive, traveling from star system to star system is about as difficult as a plane ride from one part of a country to another.
  • Gintama: Thanks to the Terminal is this an ordinary thing. Traveling to space is Gintama's version of traveling to Hawaii. Taken to the extremes in the apparent final arc where Gintoki and crew travel to space and back very often, so often that it's confusing.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Essential Silver Surfer, a villain wants to prove to Shalla Bal that Norrin Radd (the Surfer) is dead in order he can move in on her, so they pop across to Earth in his ship.
  • Fantastic Four: A dire situation that required Ben and Johnny to get from Earth to Reed and Sue on Mars was mentioned to take too long before Reed explains he developed "space folding" technology that drastically cuts transit time. They use it in a later arc to travel to a different galaxy within hours.
  • The Smurfs: Attempted and failed in the story "The Astro Smurf". In both the comics and the cartoon episode, Astro Smurf/Dreamy attempts to travel to the stars by using a Smurf-made rocket ship where pedal power operates a propeller at the bottom of the rocket. Unfortunately, try as he did, the main character of the story was unable to get the rocket off the ground. The rest of the Smurfs decide to make Astro Smurf/Dreamy believe that the rocket was fixed and now works by taking him on a Fauxtastic Voyage to another planet which turns out to be the inside of an extinct volcano and disguising themselves as Schlips (Swoofs in the cartoon show). It was repeated in the cartoon show story sequel "Dreamy's Pen Pals", except that the Smurfs simply transformed the village into the Swoof Village by using stage props, but Brainy had cut corners on completing the complex formula for transforming the Smurfs into Swoofs, so they ended up changing back into Smurfs a bit too soon.
  • Judge Dredd: Zigzagged Trope. The Mega Cities have explored and colonized much of space beyond the solar system and have regular contact with alien civilizations. It seems to depend largely on the type and quality of spaceship you're using that determines how long the actual journey is, since there are also Generation Ships.
  • Green Lantern:
    • Anyone with a Green Lantern Ring can pretty much sling themselves across the entire universe with no thought to time, food, water or even bathroom requirements.
    • This gets invoked in a cross over with Star Trek: Multiple lanterns (Green and otherwise) end up in that universe after fleeing Nekron. Eventually they figure out that Oa exists even here, but the Enterprise isn't actually capable of crossing the distance required. With their rings being too low on power to make the trip, they had to engineer a creative solution to get there in a different manner.
  • Although Galactus can teleport, he usually utilizes starships to cross the universe comfortably and quickly.
  • Superman:
  • In Star Raiders, faster-than-light space travel is fully developed and easily available.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Paula von Gunther ends up creating a teleportation device, and Diana uses it to travel to Venus and beyond at a snap.
  • Zig-Zagged with Paperinik New Adventures: most of the time is averted... One even explains to Paperinik that even traveling to somewhere relatively close as Venus would take a long time with Earth tecnology. Even aliens far more advanced as the Xerbians and the Coronians have to use cryo-cells to travel between galaxies, as it takes decades ( and Lyla confirms that human spaceships still have the same limitations in the XXIII century). There are only two exceptions: unfortunately, one of them are the Evronians, who freely travel the universe to devour other races' emotions and then turn them into obedient zombies; fortunately, the other is Xadhoom, who mercylessy hunt them down in revenge for what they did to her people.

    Fan Works 
  • The existence of technologies enabling this is actually a plot point in Origins, a Massive Multiplayer Crossover between Star Wars/Mass Effect/Borderlands/Halo. Specifically, the stardrives which allow it are actually opening windows into a very bad place, permitting Flood from an Alternate Universe in which the Flood won against other life and mingled with Reapers to enter where the heroes call home...
  • In Defenders of the Universe, crossing galactic distances isn't much of a chore. The Lions can fly to the edge of the solar system in seconds, while Gems like Lapis can do so in days. The Castle of Lions's teladuv systems can transport the Paladins to anywhere in the universe almost instantaneously.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, one of the first acts of random destruction of Satan Girl is to blow a pleasure cruiser up. Interstellar travel is very common in the 31st century, and some alien races like Daxamites and Rokynians don't even need ships.
  • In Star Wars fanfiction Shattered Empire, hyperspace allows the main characters to travel across lightyears in mere seconds.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, interstellar and interdimensional travel is easy thanks to the existence of warp spaceports.Hal Jordan doesn't need them thanks to his power ring, but he still takes a full day to cover the huge distance between Rokyn to Earth, even using space warps.
  • No stars in sight: Being a former galactic empire, the Cabal naturally have starships capable of advanced Faster-Than-Light Travel. It only takes a single day for the Rancis Olytus, a typical Imperial Cabal frigate, to warp from a Rogue Planet described as being not far from our solar system to the Kepler-186 system hundreds of light years away.
  • In A Prize for Three Empires, every team of super-heroes owns at least one starship with faster-than-light engines.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jimmy offhandedly states that the Yokian homeworld appears to be about 3 million light years away right before casually presenting the itinerary for the trip. And of course, the space fleet that they build out of the amusement park rides manages to make the trip in what is seemingly about a day. Strangely, in the made-for-TV movie "Win, Lose, and Kaboom," Jimmy asks his alien love interest if she thinks that they'll ever be able to see each other again, and she says "our planets are separated by parsecs of space" as if that actually means something.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Fifth Element, star-hopping is apparently a common past-time of the rich and powerful, who think no more of vacationing on another planet (or, as in the film, on a cruise ship orbiting a planet) as their counterparts today would of seeing the Caribbean.
  • Star Wars is so completely based on this trope that it's really hard to come up with concrete examples. They're everywhere. Even the Death Star—large enough to be mistaken for a moon—goes traipsing around the galaxy freely. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe and Legends, people have worked out the speeds of hyperdrive travel based on evidence in the movies and the EU, and a good course in a fast ship will get you across the galaxy in a week. In the films, cross-galactic travel is accomplished in mere hours (unless you think Obi-Wan and Luke spent days and weeks on the Millenium Falcon on the trip from Tatooine (Outer Rim) to Alderaan (Core World)). There's also Padmé's trip from Coruscant (Core World) to Mustafar (Outer Rim). Spaceships can be purchased at Honest John's Dealerships, as in Galaxy of Fear. Planets with economies based on offworld tourism exist, famous for shopping, or beautiful scenery, gambling opportunities, super-friendly locals...
    • The fastest portrayal of this in the films is likely Revenge of the Sith. Palpatine notes that "I sense Lord Vader is in danger", gets in a ship, and travels from Coruscant (located in the center of the galaxy) to Mustafar (located in the Outer Rim). Given he was referring to Obi-Wan's duel with Anakin, and assuming, as his dialogue implies, it was happening at that moment, that suggests Palpatine got halfway across the galaxy in the space of a single swordfight, arriving right when it ended.
    • The Knights of the Old Republic games make for an interesting study. Once you have your own ship, you can fly back and forth between the various planets as much as you like. Time isn't a factor, and you usually visit just a single location on each planet (or two, at most). Once you get access to the Yavin space station, you'll go there after every mission, just to shop, because they have good deals. That's right. You'll cross the galaxy at mind-bending speeds for a discount on a blaster. A small fee, probably intended to cover the fuel expenses, is paid for every trip (the longer the trip, the larger the amount of money you'll have to pay), but it's still quite negligible, to the point that people will travel back and forth, even for minor reasons, without minding it (or noticing it) at all.
    • Completely averted in The Black Fleet Crisis, and to a lesser extent the book Showdown at Centerpoint, which put the reader's perspective into civilian craft without the support of massive interstellar corporations, governments, militaries, or criminal syndicates. These ships are slow, have about as many creature comforts as a minivan, and are regulated enough that any trip would require planning. Other sources mention that many citizens of the galaxy never see the other side of their own planets, let alone anything beyond the stars. Many characters have noted that visiting hundreds of worlds really means setting down in a spaceport, exchanging cargo, grabbing a bite, and then heading out. In short, interstellar travel may be abundant, but it is not casual let alone comfortable to anyone below the elite, which happens to include all the protagonists. It's even established that civilian ships must normally abide by flight control that prevents them going very fast, and must enter a planet slowly for safety. Luke chafes initially at this, having grown used to miltiary exemptions which allow faster speeds.
    • Yoda: Dark Rendezvous has some Jedi trying to sneak off Coruscant on a budget passenger liner belonging to "Kut-Rate Kruises." They're all horrified to various degrees by the crowding, delays, security, and so on that they usually get to bypass. After maintaining their cover on public transporation proves to be impossible, they give up and buy a cheap freighter from an Honest John's Dealership. Similarly, By the Emperor's Hand, a Mara Jade comic, features Mara getting transport on an even cheaper ship with passenger areas that are basically like cattle cars, with all the passengers sleeping on the floor and no security. The benefit of that ship is that they don't really check for ID, so refugees and petty criminals can reach different places.
    • Also, in the X-Wing Series, interstellar travel certainly is easy for the protagonists, who are part of the New Republic military and have military ships, including single-pilot snubfighters, which can go into hyperspace. Wedge's Gamble features the Rogues infiltrating Coruscant as civilians on various different qualities of bulk transport. In Wraith Squadron the Wraiths go undercover as various tourists, specifically as tourist stereotypes which customs officials see all the time. An aged and exiled but still liquid senator and his bodyguards buying transportation in the same small private shuttle as a failed test pilot with a long-suffering wife and three absolute hicks is seen as completely unremarkable. Those same hicks fit into the mold of yokels who have blown their entire savings on a single trip to a more civilized world.
    • The vibe seems to be that interstellar travel is like air travel about 50 years ago. If you want to, you can make a living doing it, but it's rather difficult.
    • One limitation seems to be the dependency on specific hyperspace routes. With a good route, you're quite capable of getting from one end to the galaxy to the other in no time. Without one, you're stuck with slower, more roundabout methods. It's probably best to assume when there are inconsistencies, they were using different routes. It's also established that an entire third or so of the galaxy is essentially off-limits because no hyperspace routes have yet to get discovered for it.
  • The 80s comedy Morons From Outer Space involves a rented interstellar spaceship crashing on the Earth, with Earth officials positive the aliens are of high intelligence in order to pilot such a ship. If only they'd seen the movie's title...
  • This is very evident in The Chronicles of Riddick franchise, to the point that not only are criminals routinely shipped to penal planets in other star systems, it's possible to make a living as a bounty hunter even with having to schlep the prisoner to the prison planet yourself. It helps that their 'verse has developed a form of easy intravenous stasis technology—punch in your ship's course, stick the needle in your arm and you make the trip without consuming resources.
  • Averted on the 1958 film It! The Terror from Beyond Space. It is mentioned repeatedly that the flight from Mars to Earth and vice versa takes about four months each way.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) depicts travel between various points in the Andromeda Galaxy as taking mere hours, and even Space Pirates are capable of traveling all the way to Earth (though the trip is still implied to be rather inconvenient). The sequel establishes that the two limiting factors are that such travel is dependent on a Portal Network rather than being able to go anywhere, and that going into hyperspace is physically taxing on living organisms, so there's an upper limit to how many jumps you can take in one go before you have to spend some time in normal space recuperating.
    • The Nine Realms of Thor and its sequels are each located in a separate galaxy, but are linked to each other by fixed portals connected to the cosmic nimbus Yggdrasil. However, if a realm's portal goes down, then the only quick way to reach another realm is through a highly dangerous method involving dark energy. The one exception is during the Convergence, a cosmic event occurring every 5,000 years where the dimensional boundaries between the realms becomes paper-thin.
    • Captain Marvel (2019) establishes that while jump points allow for instantaneous travel across interstellar distances, actually getting to a jump point can take a long time and that all you can really do is sit and wait until your ship gets there. In fact, the film's plot revolves around the invention of an engine that allows ships to travel between stars without relying on jump points. This would allow the Skrulls to flee to a planet far away from any known jump points and live in peace without fearing Kree persecution.
  • In Solaris (1972), nothing is seen of the travel between Earth and Solaris. This is partly for budget reasons, partly because Tarkovsky intended for the film to be more of a psychological drama than a classical science fiction movie.
  • Battlefield Earth: Thanks to the Psychlos' network of teleporters Terl would casually teleport from Earth back to the planet Psychlo of an evening just to go to a bar.

  • Almost Night. While Stella's trip from colony Gamma to colony Tau is expensive, there is an entire running spaceport taking people to various destinations. And the trip takes a couple weeks.
  • Interstellar travel in the plot-relevant areas of the Perry Rhodan setting has almost always been described in this fashion, generally using whichever "mainstream" FTL drive was currently en vogue. While the comparison to automobiles may be stretching it a bit (people who actually have their own ship to, say, fly to Vega over the holidays would still be a distinct and fairly small minority), small groups and even individuals routinely do personally own commercial or private starships (in sometimes-varying states of repair and readiness) as a matter of course.
  • The Humanx Commonwealth of Alan Dean Foster plays Space Is an Ocean fairly freely—while interstellar travel isn't necessarily cheap canonically, within the story most characters consider it to be no more inconvenient than a long plane trip would be to us. In perhaps the most over-the-top example, Mid-Flinx features a character who travels to a barely-documented planet, only to be followed by three other ships which are looking for him. This would seem far less improbable if he hadn't gotten there by pointing in a random direction and instructing his ship to take him "that way". Then again, Flinx is the Chosen One of his particular universe, so it's quite likely his venture there was not entirely random.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's various works catalog a wide range of interstellar travel options, depending on the continuity.
    • His "Future History" series discusses the evolution of space travel from the first manned spaceflight, to the first FTL capable vessel, to the point where it's as easy as hopping into a rental ship and flitting between star systems. This trope isn't fully expressed, however, until The Number of the Beast, whose protagonists invent a dimension-hopping device that lets them travel to any time, place, or universe as easily as flipping a switch.
    • In Have Space Suit Will Travel, the starships of the Three Galaxies organization can jump between stars and galaxies in almost no time at all. Most of the travel time between planets is entering and leaving the planets' atmospheres.
  • Louis Wu, from Larry Niven's Known Space novels, had spent most of his centuries of life hopping from planet to planet, merely out of restlessness. Indeed, when he gets fed up with human company in general, he takes off in a private spacecraft and starts traveling in a random direction, with no concern for the expense or the difficulty which returning to the inhabited parts of Known Space might pose.
    • Louis is, however, quite wealthy, and it's explicitly mentioned that this penchant for "sabbaticals" is very definitely considered eccentric. Overall interstellar travel seems to be portrayed as roughly the equivalent of early 20th century steamship travel—expensive, but possible and relatively "routine".
  • Partially used in Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos books—during the first half (Hyperion), travel to any given point is quick, through a system of teleporter gates called Farcasters. The entire galaxy has melted together into one gigantic metropolis, since any given city is never further away than the nearest Farcaster. Particularly rich people have their houses divided over several planets, with Farcasters instead of ordinary doors. However, in Endymion, a major plot-twist at the end of Hyperion has destroyed this system, and interstellar travel is now only available to particularly powerful organizations and the enormously wealthy... In Endymion the only remaining mode of instantaneous travel kills you when it is used. And then it turns out that Aenea can teach people a way to teleport themselves to any planet in the universe that has life on it. Instant teleportation without needing a spaceship defines this trope.
  • Glasshouse by Charles Stross has interstellar teleportation, though as the characters are practically Sufficiently Advanced Humans this may be unsurprising.
  • "The Road Not Taken", a short story by Harry Turtledove, is the uber-example of this trope. It posits that anti-gravity and hyper-drive are easy to discover, but lead societies away from further advances. So the galaxy is populated by a bunch of species who all have interstellar Global Airships—and black-powder muskets at best. One such species tries to invade Earth with disastrous (for them) results.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, it is explained that it's cheaper to ship bulk cargo from one system to another than to ship something from two locations on the same planet. The catch is that you must be ultra-rich to afford even the tiniest spaceship, and interstellar travel is not exactly safe or fast.
    • Especially if you can't use a Junction transit, which can shave months off of a trip.
  • In the Dune Chronicles, the only mode of interstellar travel is through the Spacing Guild, which has a monopoly on interstellar travel. This is justified in-story by a religion-based ban on computers (justified in-universe), which means that only the Guild's Navigators (who live in tanks of concentrated spice and have been physically and mentally mutated by it to the point of being Starfish Aliens) are capable of piloting a ship through hyperspace without it being destroyed. As such, more than a few characters complain about that monopoly and the high cost of that travel. However, by Heretics of Dune, Ix has truly broken the monopoly by skirting around the Butlerian Jihad's conventions and producing machines that could substitute for the Guild's prescience.
    • In the Legends of Dune prequel trilogy, the pre-Guild interstellar travel is more in line with this trope. The League of Nobles spaceports are always bustling with activity. The mechanism is not made explicit, but it is clear that the ships available at the time used some form of FTL propulsion. It is clearly stated several times that it would take a month to travel between Selusa Secundus, the League capital world, and Corrin, the central Synchronized World. The difference with the later invention of foldspace engines and their need for prescient navigators or forbidden computers is that folding space gets you to your destination pretty much instantaneously—which is why nobody's fast enough to keep up with it unless they've already seen the safe path.
  • In Jerry Oltion's The Getaway Special and its sequel Anywhere But Here, a Mad Scientist invents a faster than light teleportation drive that runs on car batteries and can be built with parts from Radio Shack for about $200. The only limitation on the drive is that it cannot jump "into" another mass - even atmosphere. Launch from anywhere, deorbit with parachutes. Result: extrasolar colonization in RVs! And Homeland Security breaking up extrasolar trailer parks with Colony Drops...
  • Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton starts off with this but then inverts it. Humanity develops wormhole technology that allows them to treat interstellar travel like an airport or a train station so they never really develop spaceship technology too much. When they finally do need to develop spaceships they do so by jury rigging the wormhole technology but it is very much an inconvenient form of interstellar travel.
    • The Void Trilogy, set 1500 years after Pandora's Star, has a lot more spaceships. There are commercial spaceships, the Commonwealth Navy, and private spaceships. Think of them as like ships nowadays: the biggest and most efficient are company or government owned, but there is a significant number of leisure yachts.
    • From the same author: In what is likely the most extreme example of this trope, the Kiint from the Night's Dawn Trilogy have the capability to teleport instantly across multiple galaxies at a moment's notice. In the same trilogy, regular space travel is available and people own private starships, but it's still difficult enough that it couldn't be used to effectively reduce the population pressure on Earth.
    • Hamilton runs the gamut of this trope in his various novels. It's completely averted in Fallen Dragon, where space travel takes months and is so costly that it has been nearly abandoned, and the only companies still doing it are just invading planets they own the rights to and stealing all their stuff to try to make a profit.
  • Parodied in all The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy media. Hyperspace is treated in a manner similar to the highway system is on Earth (which is why the Earth is destroyed in the first place). The infamous Infinite Improbability Drive used by the protagonists allows for travel over ridiculously vast distances with some rather trippy side effects if you don't happen to be in the cabin. In a later book, interstellar travel that is even faster than the IID is facilitated via an Italian restaurant. As well as being ridiculously fast, it has the enormous benefit of not randomly turning planets into banana fruitcake as it passes.
  • Andre Norton's science fiction books feature Free Traders who travel from star to star carrying trade items. Their ships use a FTL drive that allows interstellar travel in a few days.
    • Similarly, in The Zero Stone, Jern and his master can wander the space ways in the jewel business.
  • CoDominium. Starships had the Alderson Drive, which allowed instantaneous jumps from star to star. The setting had merchant starships, such as those owned by Horace Hussein Bury. The only limitation is that the relative positions and natures of stars determine where the jump-points lie, and one must still use ordinary reaction drives to move about in-system and between jump points.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series, after the Bergenholm inertialess drive was created. Some ships could go up to 90 parsecs (294.4 light years) per hour. Later books add the hyperspatial tube, which doesn't cut the travel time much (if at all) but does let you traverse the distance unseen (except at the point of emergence).
  • The History of the Galaxy novels, while mainly focused on the military, make no secret that it's ridiculously easy for any private citizen to obtain a FTL-capable ship. Travel time can be anything from a few minutes to hours and days (no longer than that, usually), depending on how deep into Hypersphere a ship is capable and the pilot is willing to go (the deeper the faster). It gets to the ridiculous extent that a previously-unknown race of Human Aliens is able to purchase a battlefleet online along with enough Humongous Mecha to wage a war on humanity.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium trilogy, being very loosely based on Master of Orion, this trope is played perfectly straight. Hyperspace Or Subspace travel is cheap, relatively, and accessible to almost anyone (it's treated as someone buying a plane ticket today). It takes only days to get anywhere, weeks at most. Additionally, the relatively cheap and mass-produced Grasshopper-class ships are mainly designed for in-system travel, but they do possess hyperdrives with enough fuel for a single jump. It's mentioned that many companies use them as the equivalent of a company car, provided you're willing to spend hours in a cramped vehicle without Artificial Gravity, eating the kind of space food that hasn't changed since mid-20th century.
  • In Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series, this trope is played straight for some alien races, but not humans. In the first novel, humanity doesn't even have FTL drives. In subsequent books, only the military has FTL-capable starships. However, the rapid expansion of humanity makes it clear that humans will play this trope straight eventually. Contour drives require little energy and can transport a ship anywhere in the galaxy nearly instantly, although no one has ever tried such a long jump, as even small jumps require extremely precise calculations. Jumps are usually done in series.
    • Averted in Akhmanov and Christopher Gilmore's Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise, where interstellar travel is achieved via a relativistic drive that feels like a fraction of a second for anyone in the ship but takes decades in real time. While humanity has settled dozens of worlds, colonization is a costly venture that only governments on rich planets can afford, usually when overpopulation becomes an issue. The only people for whom space travel is routine are space traders, including the titular protagonist. Due to this, space traders are greeted on almost every populated world and treated as royalty. Without them, there would be no interaction between planets. Even interstellar communication is a rarity, as it requires large orbital transmitters and receivers to be set up and maintained, and any message would still take years to arrive. Even with this, a ship still has to travel for months under normal power in order to get away from deep gravity wells, as they mess up calculations. It is also risky, as a jump can deposit the ship near a star or inside a planet. There are, probably, no more than several hundred space traders in this 'verse and a few thousand settled worlds 20,000 years since interstellar travel became feasible.
  • James Blish does this with cities and indeed entire planets in the Cities in Flight series, where a new law of physics shows that the larger an object is, the easier it is to move at hugely FTL speeds. At one point it is stated that a spacecraft is crossing the solar system at FTL speeds powered by a few ordinary batteries.
  • The short stories "Assumption" (scroll down) and "The Black Sheep of Vaerlosi" by Desmond Warzel.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's two-part novel The Stars Are Cold Toys is premised on humans discovering FTL Travel in the early 21st century, resulting in most countries having their own space programs and American space shuttles and Russian Buran spacecraft lifting off into space using the usual means and then activating the jumper device, which instantly sends a ship slightly over 12 light years in a given direction. The distance is always constant. By sheer coincidence, the first interstellar jump results in humanity encountering the Conclave, a conglomerate of alien races ruling this part of the galaxy. Unfortunately, there is a strict hierarchy between the Strong and Weak races, and humanity is classified as the latter. The alien method of FTL travel are considerably slower, often taking months, although they still fit this trope. Then you have the Geometers, who have managed to combine both technologies into a highly-efficient method of interstellar travel to the point where moving entire star systems isn't that big a deal.
    • The human jumper has the added bonus of only allowing humans to survive the jump with their sanity intact, which is good for humans, as the Conclave has a habit of destroying races that serve no useful purpose to it (even if they don't pose a threat). The greatest fear is aliens learning to survive the jump, and all pilots have standing orders to destroy the ship in the event this happens (they may even choose the means to do so: self-destruct, fry the jumper which earns you a slow death, or enter into an uncontrollable series of Blind Jumps until you run out of power). Oh, and humans feel the greatest high possible when jumping.
  • Played mostly straight in Lacuna, where the jump drive allows the crew to travel to anywhere in the galaxy where there's no significant gravitational pull. Unfortunately, doing so has a slight chance of creating a horrific, ever expanding Negative Space Wedgie which very very slowly destroys the universe. The Toralii know about this and attack anyone who possess jump drive.
  • Partially justified in Roger Zelazny's Science Fantasy, Creatures of Light and Darkness, where many of the characters are actual Gods, and not subject to the rules of nature. However, the Steel General seems to ignore light-speed when mounted on his Mechanical Horse, Bronze, whose every stride covers twice the distance of the previous one. Even for ordinary humans, interstellar flight seems fairly routine, and humanity has spread far across the universe.
  • In Animorphs, the Andalites are like this thanks to their knowledge of z-space, the negative space that let them pop in at one point and out at another—although Z-space is notoriously unpredictable and always shifting. The Yeerks stole the tech and have equivalent capabilities.
  • Superlight travel is accomplished via subspace in Riesel Tales: Two Hunters. Through this method, the average starship can cross a light-year in about 45 seconds. However, a straight-line, cross-galaxy trip would still take nearly two months.
  • Played straight and averted in the Eldraeverse. While the stargates do flip you instantly from star system to star system via wormhole, in-system travel (including between stargates on long trips) has to take place at low accelerations, which is where most of the journey time is used up, and to get the stargates in place in the first place requires long sublight voyages.
  • Partly played straight in Master of Formalities. While private citizens aren't shown to be able to afford spaceships of their own, passenger interstellar travel is fairly common and treated as commercial air travel is these days, except much more uncomfortable (passenger liners don't even have bathrooms; instead, people are given pills that temporarily suppress a number of their bodily functions, although it's not uncommon for the effects to wear off before the arrival). Similar to air travel, getting to your destination often requires multiple hops, although individual flights are usually about as long as mid-range air flight. Planetary rulers do have their own ships, both luxurious private yachts and warships for their militaries.
  • In Chakona Space, we have a situation much like what we see with Star Trek seen below. Governments, big corporations, and the seriously wealthy (as well as the occasional space pirate) can all potentially own ships capable of sailing between distant worlds many lightyears apart in a matter of days or weeks.
  • In Death or Glory, this is played straight for the five dominant alien races of The Alliance, who zip around the galaxy with ease and have even visited the globular clusters "above" and "below" the galactic disk. Meanwhile, humans, despite having FTL, crawl from one star to another, and the human sphere of influence only extends to a few hundred light years from Earth. This changes by the second book, taking place a century and a half later. With the influx of alien tech, humans become one of the most ubiquitous races in the galaxy, and a private ship owner can cross the galaxy in about a week of constant jumping.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "I'm in Marsport Without Hilda": Characters make reference to the Capellan system being outside the jurisdiction of their Federation. Space travel is common enough that there's an anti-space sickness medicine that people use on a regular basis.
    • "The Last Question": The second scene involves FTL through hyperspace, an invention by the Planetary AC computers which allow humans to colonize new worlds. This, along with immortality, begins to cause new issues as the population of the galaxy is increasing rapidly. The fourth scene has Energy Beings of mankind which can traverse intergalactic distances with only the effort of their minds.
    • "Mirror Image": The Spacers are on a short (a few weeks) trip between Spacer solar systems, and stop by Earth because it isn't out of the way and Detective Baley might be able to resolve a problem the captain has been given.
    • "Mother Earth": Earth has colonized roughly fifty worlds within one hundred parsecs of itself. Roughly, because Hesperus (the furthest of the new planets) is the first world colonized by humans from the Outer Worlds rather than humans from Earth. Metals, food, technology, and more is traded amoung the fifty-one worlds on a regular basis.
  • Land in the Stars: All space travel is conducted using Solar Sails and possesses an almost ''Star Trek foundation of how speed is measured.
  • In The Goblin Reservation, the galaxy is covered by a transporting network, whereby objects are instantly transmitted between any two nodes as infinitely-fast "wave patterns". The network itself, though, is expanded by slower-than-light spaceships.
  • Averted in Junction Point. It takes an absurd amount of energy, and the most advanced technology Earth has to offer, just to get to a 'nearby' star, and it still takes around 14 years. (5, for the crew).
  • In Nocte Yin, gates exist between planets.
  • In Lucifer's Star by C.T. Phipps, the Spiral (Orion's Arm) is a place that depends on Casual Interstellar Travel. Almost every planet is interdependent on other planets with only a few being self-sufficiently. Trillions of tons of cargo are shipped from one world to the next every day in the same way as a standard planet due to the existence of jumpspace as well as a wholly integrated spacer culture. An Apocalypse How happened centuries ago when interstellar space travel was briefly rendered impossible.
  • "A !Tangled Web (1981)": Interstellar travel is casual enough that Starlodge is willing to spend a large amount of money building a resort on an alien world.
  • The original Planet of the Apes novel has a Framing Device in a time where "Travel between planets was common; between stars, unexceptional." The actual action happens at a much earlier time with the world's first experiment at interstellar travel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first six Power Rangers seasons involved travel between galaxies in a time span ranging from seconds at the quickest (via teleportation) to a day or two via Transforming Mecha spaceship thanks to alien technology. Season seven did it at a more... reasonable in-galaxy-only pace (except for a notable incident involving a wormhole) due to using a human-built ship, and later seasons involving aliens avoid mention of distances whenever possible. When they do, its always something like "several galaxies away".
  • Everything in the Stargate-verse, but especially the titular Stargate network.
    • Played With in that without the eponymous Portal Network, interstellar travel is a major pain in the ass, but not impossible if you happen to have a massive capital ship with a good hyperdrive handy. Of course such ships tend to be mostly owned by organized militaries, empires, and crime syndicates.
      • Not necessarily, as we see a number of bounty hunters owning Tel'taks, small Goa'uld cargo ships that can be modified in many ways. At least one is known to have weapons installed. Granted, they probably stole those, but still.
      • In particular, the Asgard and the Replicators have hyperdrives so fast that intergalactic travel is no big deal, and the Ancients had similar capacity. Eventually Earth gets the same technology.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) sports at least one use of this almost every episode. While not every ship has FTL capabilities, most modern ones are outfitted; civilian and military. The FTL drives are used to skip across space for reasons such as: running away from Cylons, scouting out areas of space, or just quicker travel. Granted, the ships that didn't have FTL were quickly destroyed in the genocide.
  • As mentioned in the trope description, Star Trek is not the best example of this trope... but it does have its moments. Apart from the Federation, assorted alien empires, and major shipping lines, you will occasionally come across an individual trader flying a small but warp-capable vessel to ferry Tribbles or what-have-you around the galaxy. Deep Space Nine's Quark had an interstellar shuttle briefly, but it was a gift (and assassination attempt) from his much richer cousin. Swindler and smuggler Harry Mudd also had his own ship in The Original Series (which he paid for with counterfeit money), and private owners of small warp ships made appearances in a few Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. So, an interstellar ship is the kind of thing the occasional well-off (or clever/lucky/dishonest) entrepreneur can afford, but not just anybody could get one. In metaphors, travelling between stars isn't as easy as getting a car, or even as easy as getting your own used single-engine Cessna, but it probably is as easy as getting your own small private jet.
    • Played a little more straight in Star Trek: Enterprise, where one of the regular cast members came from a family living aboard an interstellar cargo ship. An episode features another similar cargo ship. However, since all they can afford are Warp 2 engines (which could really only go as fast as 1.5), they take months, or even years, to travel between stars (for reference, using the pre-TNG scale, Warp 1.5 is equal to 3.375 times the speed of light, meaning a trip from Earth to Alpha Centauri would take about 1.3 years). Meanwhile, the Enterprise can zip around the galaxy (or at least their corner of it) with ease. In effect, these cargo ships become Generation Ships (minus the degradation normally associated with this trope). At the end of the episode, the captain of the cargo ship mentions that he'll need at least a Warp 3 engine to keep up with newer cargo ships, so he'll have to fork over some cash.
  • Farscape is a good example. All three subtropes of Faster-Than-Light Travel are present; "Hetch Drive" is dirt cheap and available to everyone, "Starburst" (which is faster but somewhat random) is available to Leviathans, but wormholes - which act as a metadimensional Portal Network - can only be utilized with the assistance of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, which they don't give lightly for really good reasons.
  • In Andromeda, people could travel between galaxies in small fighters and courier ships.
    • Also, because of how Slipstream FTL works, which has something to do with probability, and sentience, and, um... "Quantum", the more a route is traveled, the faster and easier to navigate it becomes. This would make Casual Travel even cheaper the more people do it.
    • It's clearly stated the luck is the biggest factor in slipstream travel. A lucky pilot can cross galaxies in minutes, while an unlucky one can take months to get to the nearby system. Since machines (even AIs) can't guess, they can't use slipstream at all, unless they... get creative. That's what they need to do to get anywhere specific in a hurry. If there isn't any living brain to help, they can just do a random walk and hope they get lucky at some point. More than one ship managed to pull it off. The Andromeda Ascendant was stuck in slipstream for years trying to get back to her home galaxy after the crew was killed off.
  • In the Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Wizard For A Day", some non-magical Human Aliens cross interstellar space in a matter of days to get a milkshake.
  • In Babylon 5 no private interstellar ships are shown, but commercial ships are available for common people (at least middle class) in a way similar to modern commercial flights.
    • Privately owned spacecraft make use of Jump Gates (a Portal Network) whereas larger commercial and military ships may or may not possess on board Jump Drives.
  • Lexx: Ships just "speed up" or "slow down." The specific technology is never mentioned, but Mantrid's drone arms were capable of devouring the entire universe.
  • In The Orville, ships equipped with Quantum Drives can travel between solar systems fairly quickly with no problem, with some trips taking mere minutes if the ship is traveling at maximum speed.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fireball XL5 is an egregious offender: the ship itself and its launch procedure are pretty scientifically accurate, but as soon as it gets into orbit it can suddenly go to countless planets of the week without explanation.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Alternity's Star*Drive setting has relatively casual travel, thanks to the titular stardrive. A stardrive jump always lasts five days, though the distance covered depends on the power of the engine.
  • Varies slightly with BattleTech and the nature of the universe. There are a good number of JumpShips capable of interstellar travel, but said travel is generally prohibitively expensive and largely reserved for the wealthy, the politicians, and the military—which, when considering the Lyran Alliance/Commonwealth, may be the same person.
    • It also takes a considerable amount of time. The 30 light-year jump is pretty much instantaneous, but to get to a jump point can take days if not longer from a planet, and once you get there the JumpShip needs to recharge which, depending on the facilities at a jump point and the star it's now orbiting, can take anywhere between days and weeks. Interstellar travel in BattleTech is anything but fast for civilians, and not much better for the Military.
      • It's actually possible to quick-charge the drive, but it doesn't occur often because FTL drives in the BattleTech universe are fragile, and quick charging will easily either damage or destroy it outright depending on how fast you're charging it.
  • Fading Suns has very casual travel thanks to the Jumpgates left by the dead ascended mysteriously absent Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Society may be feudal thanks to the Church (Catholics IN SPACE), but getting to the next system over is as simple as puttering out to the jumpgate in your thousand-year-old ship and popping through. Also, we are told that if you ever GO BEYOND the gate (i.e. go into interstellar space), you will be assaulted by demonic creatures, plagues or demonic plague creatures. That's right, go too far beyond the light of a star and you are attacked by demons. It fits snugly beside the Church's declaration that 'technology is evil'—except starships, computers, blaster guns (heaven forbid), personal energy shields, medical scanners, healing serum, planes, phones, lights, satellites, space stations, jumpgates, hovercars, SAM launchers, grenades, gravity emitters....
  • Traveller. Starships can travel up to 6 parsecs (19.6 light years) per week regardless of how powerful the ship is, and people routinely take interstellar trips the way we take ocean cruises today.
    • That's only partially true. Only the very fastest ships can do six parsecs. Jump engines take up space (to be more accurate, fuel for jumps—a ship requires 10% of its tonnage in fuel for each parsec of jump. So a ship capable of jump-6 must be 60% fuel tankage just for the jump (plus more fuel for other uses and plus the jump engines themselves)) and a privately owned vessel usually can't afford more then 3 parsecs. Most Free Traders can only do Jump-1 with a few doing Jump-2. Large merchants as well usually are Jump-1 to make room for cargo.
  • 2300 AD is a harder version of interstellar travel than the same company's Traveller. Starships are expensive enough to be mostly owned by large companies and nations rather than individuals, and it's a little more expensive and a little less routine to travel than booking an airplane would be today. Nevertheless millions of humans have left Earth for other worlds and thousands of ships ply the spacelanes.
  • Warhammer 40,000 both plays straight and subverts this trope. While there is enough cargo traffic to keep entire hive worlds fed, watered, and supplied, interstellar travel, especially civilian interstellar travel on ships that rely on charts instead of Navigators, tends to be (relatively) slow, and very dangerous. The Tau method is much less dangerous, but even slower. Neither Chaos nor Orks likely care about the wait or dangers as long as they have someone to kill at the destination (or along the way), and the trope is played straight by Eldar and Necrons, who either get there through a portal network, use inertial drives, or are already there. A lot of the earlier material often states that a ship CAN jump from one end of the galaxy to the other in the space of a few weeks... from the point of view of the ship. To an outsider, that ship will be gone for months, if not years. Some sources also state it can take up to a week to get from a world to a 'safe' spot where you can enter the Warp, thus extending transit time quite considerably. While Tyranids do not have any real FTL capability, they are a Horde of Alien Locusts who go around eating every single planet they can find, so it doesn't really matter how long it takes for them to get anywhere.
  • In the Rifts Three Galaxies Sourcebooks, interstellar travel is not only a breeze, but intergalactic travel as well. This is partially justified in that the eponymous galaxies are unusually close to each other. In the main setting, there is no interstellar travel at all. And unless you live on one of the pre-Rifts orbital stations, even interplanetary travel is out of the question.

    Video Games 
  • For the Capsuleers (players) of EVE Online, a regular shopping trip can take one through a dozen star systems. Muggles are mostly planetbound, though.
    • Inversely, outfitting a spaceworthy ship costs a few hundred million to a few billion ISK (Inter-Stellar Kredits, the de facto currency of the galaxy). It has been said that one single ISK is worth enough to allow you to live in comfort planetside for the rest of your life.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Space travel is casual enough for characters based on Earth or on distant alien planets to be good friends who sometimes have coordinated adventures. At the start of Attack of Darkforce, Sharkungo's concern isn't that the distance between the Earth and the Shakun Star is massive, it's that he couldn't fly to the Earth faster than the Dark Force fleet can. Thankfully, the resident Space Master helps cut his trip down to hours. Days or weeks into the story, Forcestar joins him on Earth, having just flown on his own power.
  • Freelancer runneth over with this kind of travel, enabled by the Trade Lanes and the inter-system Jump Gates, plus the Pirate-infested, naturally occuring Jumpholes.
  • In both Independence War games, Linear Displacement System (LDS) drives are practically standard equipment for spacecraft, which allow for quick inter-system travel and escape from threats (if one doesn't get hit with an LDS inhibitor missile to prevent that). Capsule drives, on the other hand, are most certainly NOT standard equipment, as shown in Independence War 2: Cal and friends don't even get a capsule drive until about the time the game transitions from Act I to Act II, where they trade a blue, alien ring hidden in Lucrecia's hoard to Haven Station for the capsule drive. You're going to need it, as you'll see next mission...
  • Mass Effect plays it straight and downplays it.
    • Played straight with Mass Relays, which are capable of transporting a starship thousands of light years instantaneously. Because all ships have element zero drive cores, you could take off from Earth, travel to a colony world thousands of light years distant to visit a friend, and make it back to Earth in a single day.
    • Downplayed when it comes to non-relay FTL travel. Without the mass relays, the civilian ships make about 12 LY per day (military ships might be faster, but it's never specified). This is enough to travel between systems within a sector pretty easily,note  but going to somewhere on the other side of the galaxy would take years - hence the need for the relay. You also need an Element Zero drive core. Plus, you have to discharge the drive regularly, which must be done on the surface of a planet or in a strong magnetic field. Otherwise, the core releases the gigawatt equivalent of a rub-your-shoes-on-the-carpet-and-touch-the-doorknob static discharge. This is invariably lethal.
    • FTL-capable ships are also extremely cheap in-universe and obtainable by middle class citizens. In Initiation, one character purchases an obsolescent navy destroyer on the savings of a military officer, and in one conversation in Mass Effect 2 Shepard says that a "a decent sized ship, even used, costs hundreds of thousands of credits" (a credit is roughly to them what a USD is to us).
    • And at the end of Mass Effect 2, Shepard destroys the Reapers' backup plan. Their response is to just fly back into the galaxy from darkspace. That's right, the Reapers have Casual Intergalactic Travel, which further emphasizes just how much more advanced the millions-of-years-old Reapers are compared to even the most advanced galactic races. The Arrival DLC shows that the Reapers can get from far outside the galaxy to the edges of the Milky Way in a very short time. They were smart enough not to put all their eggs in one basket. The third game's codex says that while the best non-relay FTL the Citadel races has is between 12 and 14 LY per day, the Reapers can go 30 LY in a day... and their unknown power source doesn't have that lethal static discharge due to whatever unknown fuel source they have.
    • Also averted during Mass Effect: Andromeda. One mission reveals the kett have to use sleeper ships to get from their area of Andromeda to the Heleus Cluster, and it's implied that even when the kett do get around to calling for reinforcements, it will take some time for them to get there. Again, they can get around within the Heleus Cluster pretty easily, but traveling dozens of thousands rather than dozens of light years is a different matter.
  • In Halo, this depends on the specific faction:
    • FTL travel starts off being relatively slow for humans (about 2 LY/day), but also pretty cheap. And since the UNSC has mastered terraforming, most of the UNSC's colonies are within about a week's travel. The UNSC doesn't cover much space (a colony a dozen light years from Earth is considered far-flung), but has colonized a decent portion of that space, with about 800 colonies including planets, moons, dwarf planets, asteroids, and space stations. In the years after the end of the Covenant war, humanity's FTL capabilities have improved substantially, at least for its most advanced ships.
    • Covenant FTL technology is much more refined, despite being merely inferior copies of Forerunner technology. In Halo: First Strike, Cortana compares human Shaw-Fujikawa FTL drives and the Covenant ones to a blunt instrument and a scalpel, respectively. Human ships almost literally punch a large hole in space/time into slipspace. The power requirements are enormous. Covenant drives cut a tiny slit in space, which massively reduces their power costs, vastly decreases their travel times, and allows them to exit slipspace with pinpoint accuracy. It's also heavily implied that humans could easily improve on the Covenant tech if they got their hands on it. Every Covenant ship captured in the novels gets conveniently destroyed before it can be brought back for study... until around the Halo 4 era, anyways.
      • Covenant FTL actually averts this for a different reason: navigation. Knowing an area's location in real space doesn't actually help you find it in slipspace, and you need slipspace coordinates to go anywhere. As a result it's extremely difficult for them to both find new planets and maintain links with their old ones. This is why it took them nearly thirty years to find Earth, despite starting only less than twenty light years away at Harvest.
    • The Forerunners are in a class all their own. The fact that it took longer than an hour to cross the galaxy was actually a sign that something was wrong. The Forerunner's own precursors were even more advanced.
    • The Halo universe's physics actually has a phenomenon called "reconciliation" which inherently prevents FTL travel from becoming too casual. Here's an overly simplified explanation; traveling through slipspace causes chronological and causal paradoxes, forcing reality to automatically "reconcile" itself after each jump. If too much slipspace travel happens at one time, the strain on reality will automatically cause FTL traffic to slow down or even halt until the universe can reset itself.
  • Ratchet & Clank, FTL there is ludicrously fast, but this trope is particularly obvious in the PS2 games where the ships are shown just flying through space and not using any form of FTL until the PS3 titles. The fact that series' events unfold not in one, but three Galaxies Far Far Away should make speeds' monstrosity fairly obvious. But then again, it's all for fun, not any kind of realism.
  • The Star Ocean games involve travel through something that looks like outer space, but is much much easier to get around in. Justified in that the games takes place within a 4-dimensional MMORPG, and it's only natural that the programmers would design their universe-powering game engine's physics to include FTL if they wanted a science fiction game. Yes, it's quite metafictional.
  • Ten thousand credits will net your civilian clunker a jump drive, with a mere 50 creds per landing to refuel, in Wing Commander: Privateer. Privateer 2 doesn't even bother with the cost of a jump drive, it's built in to all ships.
  • Descent 2 starts the game telling you that you have been kept on retainer for 'up to 72 hours'. In that time you manage to travel to several different planets (in several different systems) and destroy lots of robots.
  • Played straight in Sins of a Solar Empire. Until the arrival of the Vasari, the Trade Order was a loose group of worlds, where most of the interstellar trading was done by civilians. With the start of the Vasari conquest, the Trade Order reformed into the Trade Emergency Coalition. However, you can still build trade stations in space that automatically spawn trade ships (that you can't control), which prowl the phase lanes between planets and stars.
  • With the addition of trading to Sword of the Stars, it's clear that this is the case with the trade ships. Instead of assigning them to a specific system, they are instead assigned to a sector that includes one or more systems. They then travel from system to system, increasing the empire's revenue. It's not entirely clear how the Hivers trade with systems not joined with their Portal Network, but the game just Hand Waves this.
  • Elite and its sequels treat the hyperdrive like this; however, there is nowhere near enough space traffic as in-universe sources would suggest.
    • Elite Dangerous replaces the Hyperdrive with the Frame-Shift Drive, which is practically the same thing. (The game also addresses the Fridge Logic of the first few games by adding more ships that can be seen in various star systems.)
  • Particularly in the later games in the X-Universe series, space is pretty damn crowded with (damn annoying) civilian ships.
  • Likewise Escape Velocity. A basic cargo shuttle costs maybe ten to twenty grand.
  • Seemingly averted in Sluggish Morss, though possibly played straight in the sequel.
  • In Asura's Wrath, the grand finale has Asura in his Destructor form casually flying past entire solar systems in mere seconds to beat the crap out of the Final Boss.
  • Dawn of War: Soulstorm: The game takes place over a star system made of four planets. Where Dark Crusade allowed you to jump from province to province once you had the starport, Soulstorm had a Warp Storm preventing planetary jumps and forcing you to use the Portal Network instead (and had a region bonus that lets you move faster through your own terrain).
  • No Man's Sky: Almost every single ship in the game is capable of Faster-Than-Light Travel, though it requires money-intensive Hyperdrive fuel.
  • A gate network is required to get to any other system in The Mandate. If a gate malfunctions and you end up somewhere without a gate to use for a return trip, you are essentially screwed.
  • A staple in Starbound. Besides being able to fly from one planet to another in the same system using only your basic propulsion in a matter of seconds, you can shoot off to another solar system in only a little more time - greater distance just means greater fuel cost, and fuel is easy to obtain. Interestingly, Gameplay and Story Integration is in play; the universe is very widely populated due to ease of travel, with almost every planet having a few settlements, peaceful or friendly, for you to find.

  • Interstellar travel was already pretty casual in Schlock Mercenary before the Teraport was re-invented, when everything depended on the Portal Network—there are even interstellar taxis for transporting individuals between stars—though it is mentioned that only the wealthiest 10% have access. Then again, this is a sci-fi so far up the Kardashev Scale that antimatter is yesterday's technology.
  • Starslip subverts it with the 'Starslip Drive', which abuses Alternate Universe. As the original title (Starslip Crisis) suggests, it isn't without consequences.
  • Averted in Freefall: They do have a form of FTL—known as the Dangerous And Very Expensive drive. All but the very richnote  are stuck with Generation Ships.
  • In the Sluggy Freelance Story Arc "GOFOTRON: Champion of the Cosmos" space travel within the Punyverse seems to be quite easy. Justified since, unlike our universe, the hundred or so solar systems in the Punyverse are all bundled up right next to each other.
  • Far Out There takes this as a given. It's been stated that the cast could have a ship of their own if Ichabod wasn't too lazy to buy one.
  • Played with in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!—there is not FTL, but relativistic speed travel is common; the Nemesite homeworld is relatively near Earth's sun; and the Nemesites live for millenia. While going home would normally be no big deal to Voluptua, one reason she's lingering here is that her new human friends are as mayflies, and would age and die in the time she would likely be gone.
  • It's apparently in the process of being invented in Galaxion. The "teething troubles" stage, to be exact. As of yet, it managed to work for a glorious one time without exploding.

    Web Original 
  • Interstellar travel is moderately casual in Orion's Arm. While regular travel by spaceship is slower-than-light, the spaceships are generally relativistic and experience time dilation, and most people (or things, or things who are people) are immortal anyway and can go into suspended animation or turn themselves off if they get bored. Also, the wormhole network does allow for more or less casual fast interstellar travel within the terragen bubble for those who can withstand the limitations.
  • Painfully averted in Junction Point. It takes Odysseus, humanity's most advanced ship, 14 years to reach the 'nearby' system of Kapteyn's Star. Due to time dilation, however, only five years passed for the crew.
  • This is a Downplayed Trope in Starsnatcher. While most spaceships are capable of interstellar travel thanks to the local Portal Network of wormholes, it takes several months at minimum, as wormholes are usually placed far away from any nearby gravity well (e.g. a star or a planet).
  • Whateley Universe: the underlying premise of "Tennyo's Easter" since Tennyo only has one week of Easter break and she's traveling all over the Milky Way galaxy. Having found and rescued an ultra-fast sentient starship built by the Isokist—possibly the same ones which created the Star Stalker in the first place—helps a lot.
  • Humans are the only creatures in the world of The Quintessential Mary-Sue who don't have the ability to do this. The Philosphites have a warp-drive that lets them travel the whole length and breadth of the universe, the Amazinines are Flying Bricks that rival the Silver-Age Superman in power and can just fly anywhere in the universe at billions of times lightspeed, and the People of the Gem can exceed even those by teleporting with a magic spell.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Felix the Cat (Joe Oriolo) cartoons, space travel is very casual. The Professor's spaceship and Poindexter's flying saucer allow them to travel to other planets with all the effort and time of going on a Sunday drive.
  • Invader Zim is a weird example: in the first episode, it takes Zim six months to travel from Conventia to Earth, but later episodes show him traveling to Irken or other planets in what one presumes is a relatively short time (Dib mentions Zim had been gone "three days" when he went to Foodcourtia). Perhaps the Tallest put him on a cheap flight?
  • Futurama does this a lot, primarily out of sheer comedic value. Not only does the Planet Express ship routinely make deliveries to distant planets as a matter of normal business, not only are there highway-like lines of other space ships waiting to travel similar distances, not only has the crew rocketed off to the edge of the universe and come right back to earth in a matter of a week, but Cubert and Dwight have once delivered newspapers to homes in a nearby asteroid belt (supposedly not our solar system's) using what amounts to a do-it-yourself bicycle-powered rocket.
    • In the second episode of the series the trope is lampshaded. The crew get a job to do a delivery on the moon, and Fry asks to do the countdown for launch. Leela launches anyway and by the time Fry counts down from 10 to 8, they've already arrived on the moon. He then quickly counts down the rest while seeming disappointed.
    • Even worse for him, travel to the moon is so casual, that it's seen as insultingly low-class to even go in the first place. The people actually living on the lunar surface are treated as being the future equivalent of those living in a trailer park today.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, the heroes get their own Space Plane that can make good time anywhere the galaxy, though this may be justified by the fact they are part of the Space Police and would need such equipment. CIT seems to be common in the setting with even one of Ben's alien forms (Jetray) having the ability to travel at warp speed to catch up to the others when they take the space plane to another planet.
  • Several episodes of Defenders of the Earth involve the Defenders travelling to planets outside Earth's solar system and back in a matter of hours. However, no other human characters in the series seem to be able to do this, suggesting that the Defenders may be using borrowed alien tech.
  • The Homeworld Gems in Steven Universe have ships that can travel between galaxies in fairly reasonable time (going from Homeworld to Earth in a few hours), and once they start colonizing a planet, they set up a Galaxy Warp for near-instantaneous travel. Gems that can fly can also do this, purely on their own power. It does take a bit longer as expected, but no more than a few months. In one episode, Pearl builds a spaceship out of old airplane parts. She estimates that a trip to the next star system and back would only take 50 years. It's not really clear if that's just what she assumes the ship is capable of (it breaks apart before even leaving the atmosphere), or if it actually could've done that.
  • The flying saucer in Ready Jet Go! can go to space in a short amount of time. This is because said flying saucer has interstellar overdrive.
  • Combined with Interplanetary Voyage: In Saban Entertainment's The Why Why Family, Baby Victor's Grandpa Matic is an expert on The Solar System who Speaks Fluent Dog with a dog named Zygo and in most episodes takes him and Victor on a journey through outer space on a Cool Spaceship in order to study the wondrous ways of the universe.
  • Transformers: Animated features the Cybertronians, who alongside being long-lived robotic beings that can handle space travel better than a human could, also have a system of teleportation through machines called Space Bridges. The Autobots have an entire network of Space Bridges that connects the territories of its multi-star-system commonwealth. To coincide with this (according to the map provided in the AllSpark Almanac), despite Earth being approximately 10 kiloparsecs away (3.33 quintillion kilometers) the Steelhaven flagship can apparently travel there and back within a month or so.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick has multiple different ways of doing this:
    • His small spaceship is the straightest example. Rick frequently uses it in his adventures with Morty and Summer, and they often leave, go to completely different planetary systems, and return home in it by the end of the same day. So far, aside from concentrated dark matter, it hasn't been shown how Rick cuts down the travel time to be so short, and the actual speed of the ship is never stated; presumably, Rick is using some form of his portal technology mentioned below to teleport the majority of the way.
    • His portal gun bypasses being in space completely, and allows him and those he brings with him to instantly portal to another part of the universe or even the multiverse (i.e. dimension-hopping). He can seemingly go anywhere with it, to the point that it makes you wonder why he needs the spaceship at all unless he's actually doing something in space with it. Rick has occasionally mentioned that the portal gun can run out of charge, so it's possible that he uses the spaceship to save battery life, but it's left vague how much energy each portal uses, or how much charge the portal gun has to begin with.