Figure 3.1 Key migrant routes from Africa to Europe
Source: BBC News (2007). Key facts: Africa to Europe migration.
Migration does not necessarily involve a direct move from a home community to a final destination. Some international migrants transit through a third country on their way to a preferred destination. Many of them remain in transit locations for a considerable length of time—sometimes several years. This is most apparent in certain migration corridors; for example, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa often transit slowly through North African countries as they make their way towards Europe, and South American migrants must endure a long journey through Mexico to get to the United States of America.
Whether youth migrants choose to transit through certain countries on their way to a final destination depends on factors such as available travel routes, travel and visa regulations, legal barriers to exit, travel costs, and the presence of family members, existing diaspora communities and organized travel networks they might rely on for support. Visa restrictions may compel migrants to resort to irregular migration, which may involve at least partial dependence on informal travel agents, including smugglers.
Migrants can spend a day or several years in transit. Prior to their departure, migrants may have detailed travel itineraries with specific arrival times, a general idea of how long their journey should take, or a flexible schedule with no set end point. Even with the most careful plans, changes may occur.