Plane, Train, Bus or Automobile?


We have been writing about our travels now for several months. If you have paid any attention at all you have probably figured out our primary mode of travel is automobile.

by Christopher Allen

That is not to say we have not used other methods of travel. We have flown to Hawaii, London, and China. We have made several flights to New York City.

And especially when Eastern had their Weekender deals, we flew to several places nearby including Orlando a couple of times. I flew to St. Louis once when one of our sons was having an operation on his knee.

We flew home once from Houston, Texas, but you do not want to hear about our transmission troubles with a certain Dodge Caravan!

Our train travels were in Europe. We took a train from Brussels to Amsterdam and back. Then we traveled from Paris to the south of Spain and back on a train. My last train trip was from Atlanta to Athens when I was a freshman at the University of Georgia. That trip isn’t possible anymore.

Photo by Darryl Bond; Original uploaded by LJHolden via en.wikimedia commons

We have not traveled by bus as a family. My wife had to take a bus from Birmingham to Atlanta once, but that is another story – that Dodge Caravan again… My sons have taken advantage of a bus company that travels from Chinatown location to Chinatown location in New York and Boston.

So to sum it all up, we basically travel by automobile.

I got to thinking about air travel recently since that is usually the quickest way to get from point A to point B. I’ve always enjoyed air travel and look forward to flying.

However, travel by air is not nearly as convenient as it once was. Now you need to arrive at the airport one to two hours before your flight leaves so that you can go through security. Going through security is not one of the most pleasant parts of the trip.

airplane by redlegsfan21 via wikimedia commons

Added to that, you must leave family and friends at the security check point. They can no longer accompany you to your departure gate.

Another thing about air travel is the cost. In my mind flying is expensive. So I decided to look into the costs of getting from Atlanta to New York City by plane, train, bus or automobile.

I checked costs for the same dates using a round trip beginning on April 10th and returning on April 14th. My first stop on the internet was a site for airfares.  The least expensive round-trip ticket by plane from Atlanta to New York’s La Guardia Airport was $344. I’m not including any taxes or expenses for extra luggage. To be honest that does not sound too bad.

amtrak by David Wilson via wikimedia commons

Next I decided to check Amtrak’s rates. Amtrak has a train that makes the trip from Atlanta to New York and it only takes 18 hours to make the trip. I just checked for the least expensive rate and found that I could make the round trip for $324. Once again that is just the ticket price, no taxes or frills. That airfare isn’t looking too bad is it?

Next I thought a bus trip might work okay since I would be leaving the driving to them. There were some rates on some bus lines I had never heard of, but if I chose one of them I could make my round trip for $120. Once again that is the ticket only. I did not check to see how long a bus trip might take.

bus station by Visitor7 via wikimedia commons

I decided to check the fare on Greyhound since they are the ones we usually think of if we think of travelling by bus. Greyhound did have an advanced or internet fare of $120 round trip. However, if you took their standard fare you would be paying $306. If you needed a fully refundable ticket you would be paying $342. Airfare is beginning to look really good.

Like I said we usually drive. So I checked with Mapquest and they claim I could drive the trip in around 14 hours and the cost of fuel for my Ford Focus would be around $125 for the round trip.

by Infrogmation via WikiMedia Commons

That doesn’t sound too bad, but it does not take into account the fact I never get anywhere as quickly as Mapquest says I will. It does not take into consideration we would have the cost of lodging since we would make it a two day trip.

It also does not consider the fact we would be eating several meals on the road. I haven’t totaled up the costs for this mode of travel, but somehow I do not think it would beat the price of airfare.

All of these costs are for one person traveling alone. Since there are usually two of us traveling you can double the costs for the plane, train or bus. Costs would not really double for traveling by car.

I’m not sure what any of my research actually proves. My wife and I will still travel by car more often than any other way. But I do find it interesting that flying, if planned in advance, does not have to be the most expensive way of travel.

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