Ahh, the beautiful lands of Middle-earth. Diverse and mysterious, from rolling green hills to foreboding swamps to lofty peaks, it all encourages you to just get out there and see it -- so pack your lembas bread and hit the trail! Oh, what's that you say? It's going to take forever to walk from one end of Middle-earth to the other? Of course it is! Thankfully, there are a range of options available for traversing the lands, and we'll go over them in this guide so that you can explore every nook and cranny that Lord of the Rings Online has to offer.
After finishing the opening quest on a new character, you receive a "Map Home" item. This can be clicked to take you back to your chosen Home, with a 1 hour cooldown before it can be used again. You have the ability to select where your map will take you by finding a location with a Milestone, and clicking it.
Similar to the Map Home are the racial porting abilities. Every race has its own trait that ports the caster back to their home area at the cost of 1 traveling ration (available cheaply from Provisioner NPC merchants). Each race has different requirements to unlock this trait, and once completed, it will need to be equipped via a Bard NPC. Using Dwarves as an example: their trait is called "Return to Thorin's Gate", and requires the mass-murdering of goblins before it is unlocked.
Yet another personal port method becomes available when you are the proud owner of some player-housing, and it will take you right to your doorstep.
The first real travel-enhancer you'll encounter in your journey to the 50th season should be the Stables. In every new area that you visit, do a quick check for any stables (and an easy way to do this is to pull up your map; stables will be listed as a great big horse head). It is vitally important that you speak to the Stable-master once. Doing this will mean that you've traveled to that area before, and opens up the ability to ride back there on a speedy mount from a connecting stable in the future.
Now the stable-masters aren't just going to sit you on one of their horses, slap it on the backside and wave smiling as you rocket off across the countryside -- some money will need to change hands first. The cost will vary, and usually depends on the distance between two stables, and the level of the area being visited (the higher destinations often cost a lot more). The starting cities are always very cheap to travel between, and new characters should start with the ability to visit them, so it's easy to hook up with friends that may have decided on a different race from you.
There are actually two variations on stable-master horses. The first is just a regular trip, where you watch yourself travel all the way from your start point to your chosen stable. The other is called "Swift Travel", and you'll grow to love those words, as they basically imply that your journey will be excessively short and sweet. Your horse will start to take off down the path, and will then magically teleport to right in front of your destination. Understandably, only certain locations can be Swift Traveled to, and they are usually large hubs like Bree and Thorin's Gate (although there's a very lazy Swift Travel route available that goes from one side of Bree to the other for 5 silver pieces -- ok, ok, I've used it before). There are also a few destinations that are locked from stable travel until a certain level is achieved, for example The Ettenmoors and Rivendell require a level of 40 to travel to.
Your own horse
Player mounts are also available in LotRO, but the first step in owning one is to do some leveling. You will need to achieve level 35 before you can take on the quest to obtain your own horse. The quest has a few parts, and involves riding back and forth to various locations (with some stages being timed), and the final step is a fun course running through gates and doing jumps at a farmstead. You can check out a full walkthrough of the horse quest at LotroLife.
After completing the quests though, the horse isn't yours straight away -- that was all just to earn the "Riding" skill. You'll then have to buy your horse for 4 gold 220 silver, so it's wise to prepare ahead for this costly purchase. The shorter races (Hobbits, Dwarves) get a pony and the Elves and Humans take a full-sized horse -- and no, you can't mix it up and have a giant Man on a poor little pony. There are four different-looking types of horse initially, but raising certain factions, participating in PvMP, and other special events can open up some more unique options.
There is one other type of player-owned horse as well -- the controversial level 25 horse granted to those with Founder status or Lifetime subscriptions to LotRO at Christmas time last year. This horse is slower than the level 35 variety, but is free, and with its lower level requirement, it comes in handy for those that are lucky enough to be eligible for one.
Hunters are the traveler's best friend
At level 14, the Hunter class gains a skill called "Find the Path". This increases their run-speed, and the run-speed of all members of their fellowship, by 15%. This effect will suspend while the fellowship is in combat, but proves ever-useful when running between places on foot.
The Hunter can also port their fellowship to a handful of the major towns through their "Guide to" series of skills. "Guide to Michel Delving" is the first to become available, at level 22; "Guide to Thorin's Hall" comes next at 26; "Guide to Bree" is obtained at level 32; "Guide to Esteldin" comes at 38; the last in the series is "Guide to Rivendell" at level 46, the final hunter skill.
It costs traveling rations for the hunter to use these skills.
Summon me up, Scotty!
Captains learn a skill at level 40 called "Summoning Horn Use". Using a summoning horn will allow the Captain to summon their whole fellowship to their location, making group formation and setup a breeze. For the privilege of being summoned, you will pay 5 traveling rations from your inventory -- the Captain doing the summoning does not use any rations.
This isn't really a viable transportation method, but it's worth a mention anyway. At level 38 Guardians can learn the skill "Guardian's Promise". This skill creates an Acorn Whistle that you can trade to anyone, and when used while in a fellowship with them, it will summon the Guardian to that person's location. The Acorn Whistle does not disappear when you log out -- it remains in your inventory until it is destroyed or used.
Obviously you can't really use the Acorn Whistle to get around, unless you go, ahem, planting your seed, so to speak, with all your friends across the land, but it certainly comes in handy if you have a group of people you are regularly in a fellowship with.
Now go explore!
Now that you've read this guide, you know all of the ways in which you can get around Middle-earth. All that's left is for you to get out there and see the world! Remember to visit every stable-master at least once, and to choose new homes through Milestones when appropriate. When you get higher in levels, you can start pestering Hunters and Captains to help you in your travels. Most importantly, document your travels with screenshots! LotRO has some beautiful areas, and we always welcome user submissions for our One Shots series.