Dream symbols: Cars and other vehicles – and what they mean [with examples]

We’ve all had those dreams: Dreams about driving or buying a new car; dreams of being at the airport or taking the train.

I bet you have had some dreams like that! But have you ever wondered what they mean?

This article explores the most common meanings of vehicles, and gives you some pointers so you can interpret them in your own dreams.

We will also consider how to apply the dream meaning to our lives.

The symbolic nature of dreams

Firstly, if you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Dreams as parables and Symbolic language in dreams to give you a foundation.

Secondly, remember that dreams are personal, so the meanings that I suggest may not apply to your specific dream. But please feel free to use my ideas as a springboard to thinking and praying about dreams yourself. Don’t take my ideas as gospel, but rather let them help you start to think metaphorically.

  1. The symbolic meaning of vehicles
  2. Cars and journeys
  3. Aeroplanes and airports
  4. Boats
  5. Trains

What does a vehicle symbolise?

As a way into the subject, I did a little research into the meaning of the word ‘vehicle’. This is what I found in Collins Online Dictionary:

“A vehicle is a machine such as a car, bus, or truck which has an engine and is used to carry people from place to place.”

This is what we usually mean when we talk about vehicles as dream symbols. Maybe we are driving in a car, waiting to board a train, or taxiing down a runway in an aeroplane.

I want to draw attention to the phrase, ‘used to carry people from place to place.’ This is key. Essentially, when we are in a vehicle we are on a journey! We are moving from one place to another, or at least trying to!

Life is a journey

We have all heard the phrase, ‘life is a journey, not a destination’. This pretty much sums up the symbolic meaning of vehicles in dreams. It is all about our life journey, and various aspects relating to it.

It could be representing our own personal journey, or the journey of an organisation we are part of (a business, school, church etc.).

Collins also has the following more general definition of the word ‘vehicle’:

“You can use vehicle to refer to something that you use in order to achieve a particular purpose.”

When you see a vehicle in a dream, it is helpful to think of this second, more general meaning. For example we could say, ‘This website is my vehicle to understanding dreams’ (😆).

So when you find yourself on a journey in a dream, the vehicle you are in represents how you are getting there! Think: ‘What am I using to help me achieve my purpose?’ That will help you identify what the dream, and the vehicle, are about.

Vehicles in the bible

The bible is full of imagery and can help us understand dream symbols. (See The bible as a dream dictionary).

Obviously cars, aeroplanes, and other modern inventions did not feature in bible times! However, they did have other methods of transportation, such as: walking, horses/donkeys, chariots, boats, etc.

And the bible does have much to say about our journey in life.

The biblical foundation that I work to, is that our Creator God knows the best path for us to take in order to succeed in life, and He wants to help us fulfil our destiny. He also sees the future, and other things we don’t know about.

I believe that many of our dreams come from God. Therefore, it is no surprise to find that our dreams contain guidance – about our life, our decisions, and our personal journeys.

I have explained this principle in the article: Dreams make sense of my life: Finding purpose and direction in a crazy world.

Some specific examples

The following examples were originally a number of individual posts on Facebook, which have been combined into this blog post by popular request!

To see the original series, visit my Facebook Group – a place where we share tips about interpreting dreams, and also discuss our own dreams.

Cars

We will start by considering cars, because they are a common transport method these days. But the principles and questions in this section can be extended to other modes of transport.

There are so many different types of cars: minis, people carriers, sports cars, open-top cars, just to name a few! All of these things can provide clues about what they represent.

The size of the car indicates the size of the group/organisation that it represents. The bigger the car, the bigger the group of people. For example:

A SMALL CAR is frequently about our own life journey, and the things that happen along the way.

A FAMILY SIZED CAR such as a people-carrier could be about our family’s activities, or any small group.

A BUS could be a larger group or ministry. (A school bus could indicate some sort of training or learning activity).

A WORK CAR could be about an area of our work life, or something that we use at work.

The context is everything. For example, if we’re trying to drive off-road in a mini, it would mean we’re trying to do something we’re not equipped for. But if we are in the same scenario in a 4×4, it would mean we’re equipped to cope with the difficult times ahead.

The journey is also important. The road ahead tells us what we are going to be facing soon. Things that happen to the car, or in the car, tell me what is going on my life. Junctions and roundabouts indicate moments of choice.

A familiar car

If we are driving OUR CURRENT CAR in a dream, it would tell us that the dream is about our current life activity/journey and the things we are going though.

If a car we USED TO OWN features in our dream, it could be about an old way of operating that is coming into play now.

A NEW CAR represents something new in our life : maybe a new way of thinking, a new activity, or a new way of doing things.

Sometimes a feature seems particularly important. For example, recently I had a dream set at night, but the red colour of my car seemed to stand out. Red represents something we have the ability to do. In that instance the colour was the main thing.

A question to ask ourselves about a familiar car is this: “Was I just driving that car in my dream because I always do, or did something stand out about it?”.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Is it a car I normally drive?
  • What size is it? (i.e. How many people does it carry?)
  • What type of driving is it normally used for? Is it being used appropriately in the dream?
  • Does it have any notable features?
  • Where am I going in the car?
  • Am I driving or is someone else driving?
  • What happens on the journey?

Aeroplanes

I don’t know about you, but I often dream of planes and airports.

Many of the principles we discussed in relation to cars apply. However an aeroplane is different in that it flies in the sky. The sky is symbolic of the heavenly realms, so flying is usually related to our spiritual journey. But it can also be about our general life journey too.

Flying can be about going to new places, or the ability to rise above a situation. Usually going higher is good and going lower is worse. Crashing is obviously bad!

However there are many ideas related to planes. For example the type of plane is important, and the size indicates the size of the group, just as with cars:

A SMALL PLANE could be our individual journey.

A MEDIUM SIZED PLANE would normally be a larger group of people.

A JUMBO JET could be an international organisation.

A FIGHTER JET could indicate some sort of battle or struggle.

There is much more. Just think about the following expressions that we use, which could relate to an image in our dream:

  • It could be something about to ‘take off’.
  • We might be having trouble getting something ‘off the ground’.
  • We might be bringing something ‘in to land’.
  • When things are going well we are ‘flying high’.

Airports and other journeys

I know that airports are buildings not vehicles – but if we are catching an aeroplane, it usually involves an airport – so it is important to understand what they mean!

Also, some of the principles will help you understand aspects of other journeys that you make in your dreams.

Airports are gateways to new places, and are often international, so they can represent a significant change in our life, whether that is a physical change or a change in thinking.

Here are some things that have happened to me in dreams, and ideas about what they could mean, to get us thinking metaphorically:

GETTING READY FOR A FLIGHT: Preparing for something new, but it could still be a way off – or still just a idea. There could be some timing indicators, or insight into how we feel about this change.

PACKING SUITCASES: Deciding what we will need and what we can leave behind as we embrace the new thing we are doing.

CHECKING IN: Preparing for something new, but it is more imminent and we are actively engaged. Are we allowed to take everything with us? Do we need to leave some ‘baggage’ behind? Do we have permission to continue?

GOING THROUGH SECURITY: Similar to checking in. A time to review what we should take and what we should leave behind.

FORGETTING PASSPORT: So often I have had to go back home for my passport in a dream! Usually this means I’m not yet ready for the change, or there is something that needs to happen before I can move on. But it’s ok. It might be prompting me to cooperate with that change, or just to be at peace about having to be patient a while longer.

And so the journey progresses…there is so much more! But I hope you get the idea, and can think through all the stages of a flight: from preparing for something new, being in the middle of a transition (mid-flight), to being in a new place (landed) and events relating to that.

Boats

Boats are similar to planes in that they often represent spiritual journeys. They could be our personal journey, or maybe that of a church. This is because boats travel on water, and water represents a spiritual community.

However, they could, of course, be about any journey that we are involved in – particularly if we normally travel on boats.

As discussed previously, think about the size:

  • A SMALL BOAT being an individual or family.
  • A CRUISER being a church, business, ministry, etc.
  • AN OCEAN LINER being an international organisation.

Think about the type of boat and what that might translate to, metaphorically speaking:

  • A YACHT OR SAILING BOAT has sails to be blown along in the wind, maybe on the wind of the Spirit.
  • A MOTOR BOAT has power and moves fast!
  • A ROWING BOAT takes a lot of personal effort to get anywhere.
  • A SUBMARINE could be looking at issues ‘below the surface’, or moving in the deep things of the Spirit. Or maybe being able to do things subtly behind the scenes (‘off the radar’ we might say!

Also consider the location of the boat and what happens on the journey:

  • IS THE BOAT ON A RIVER? A river usually represents a move of God or flow of the Holy Spirit.
  • IS IT ON THE SEA? The sea can represent the world or the nations.

Trains

Trains are interesting in that they can usually carry a lot of people, and once we get on them we are carried along. This lends them towards representing a movement.

However you might catch a train regularly, in which case it could just be a normal setting to convey messages about your life.

They are just like other vehicle symbols, in that they are about our life journey, and represent the ‘vehicle’ that is currently carrying us, or the one which is going to take us to the next stage.

Here are a few things that trains could be:

  • Any type of movement that we are part of .
  • A way of thinking, or ‘train’ of thought that we go along with.
  • A course or ‘training’ that we are doing.
  • An organisation such as a business or church denomination.

There are other elements connected to trains, such as stations, tracks, signals etc. Who is driving the train? Is it a modern train or an old steam train? An intercity? An underground train? Or maybe even a bullet train? How many carriages does it have?

Note anything that stands out or seems unusual. This will give you clues as to what it’s about.

Real dream example

Dream: Taking my old car as the red car is blocked in

I dreamed I was in a very busy car park. My red car was blocked in, so I phoned my husband to ask if I could take my old car which was not blocked in. He said to wait there till my red car was clear.

I said we would just drive and go for a little walk then come back and pick up my red car. So he came to drive the old car for me. It seemed pretty bare inside. Then I remembered that we were trying not to drive it in case it broke down! So we went back to collect my red car, which was now free; all the other cars had gone.

Picture of me (Jenny) with my real life red Toyota
My real life ‘red car’!

The dream symbolism

The context: The dream was based around trying to leave a car park. Driving is generally about our life journey, so the car park represents not being able to move on from the situation I was in. I was blocked in, so I was stuck.

My husband: Most of the time my husband represents God in disguise, in my dreams. Therefore, his opinion represents the course of action that’s best for me,

My red car: this was my current car, and represents what I was meant to be doing at that time. Red also represents something that you have the ability to do.

My old car: The main point about this was that I wasn’t meant to be driving it because it was bare and not very reliable – so it was not the best way forward for me. I could do better!

Real life explanation

At the time of dreaming I was trying to set up a website, and was hitting too many tech problems. I just couldn’t get it to work. God was advising me to be patient, and encouraging me that I would be able to do it with a bit of perseverance.

But I was inpatient, so I used a different approach. Ultimately, that meant I had to go back and change things again afterwards.

But the dream now tells me (with hindsight) that God was helping me even in that unwise decision – and I would be able to get back on track again.

The meaning of the cars

The two cars represented the two website builders that I was weighing up using at the time. Each was a potential vehicle that I could use to achieve my purpose at that time – which was to launch this blog!

Conclusion

Vehicles in dreams usually relate to an aspect of our life journey, and they represent the thing that is helping us get there! It could be anything from our own life (a small car) to a larger group, organisation, or other tool that we are using to get where we need to be.

Remember that all my ideas are just that – ideas! It can really help to have some suggestions, but always remember to pray about your dreams, because they are each individually crafted for you.

Here are a few closing thoughts:

  • A vehicle in a dream could represent any number of things. The above ideas should give you a good starting point.
  • I believe that only God can tell us what a symbol means in a specific dream, so you could try asking Him!
  • Consider the colour, atmosphere and context of the dream to see whether the vehicle is being used in a positive or negative sense.
  • In additional to the meanings that I have shared, remember that it could mean something personal or culturally significant to you, that isn’t mentioned here.

When you figure out what a particular vehicle means in your dream, make sure to keep a record of it somewhere, for future reference!

And most importantly – don’t give up! It takes time to learn your own personal dream language.

Have fun dreaming!

Further interest

There are lots more potential meanings of other vehicles at Joshua Media Ministries – you can find the list here: Vehicles – Dream Dictionary.

Streams Ministries have loads of great little videos about dream elements. You can find the link to their YouTube channel in the video below. This one is about ‘crashes’, which seems relevant to the topic!

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