I don’t always like to fly, and it’s not because I’m afraid of technical issues or recycled cabin air. It’s because flying can be a downright hassle. Driving is alright, but sometimes it’s nice just to take in your surroundings without being on constant defense for construction or distracted motorists.
So when the distance is right, why not think about changing it up? I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains for mid-length trips, as well as Public Transportation for local adventures. Here are my favorite things about buses and trains – two often-overlooked ways to get around:
1. No lines. My #1 drawback to flying is the lines – often long, slow-moving ones. There’s a line to check your bag. There’s a line to go through security. There’s a line at your terminal’s Jamba Juice.
I’m sure there are exceptions to my experience, but I’ve never had to wait in ridiculous lines to board a bus or a train. The only waiting involved sitting comfortably in the station for the agreed-upon departure time.
2. Time to yourself. To read, get work done, look out the window, sleep…the possibilities are endless. Granted, you can do all this on a plane too, but good luck enjoying the experience with three inches of leg space, a drunk stranger sleeping on your shoulder and nothing but clouds on top of clouds as far as the eye can see. I like the sky as much as the next person, but scenery at the ground level is usually more exciting.
3. Parking is not your problem. In many cases, parking to travel by bus or train is a low-stress experience. Bus stops in heavily populated areas are relatively easy to access, and train station parking is a breeze. Whichever method of travel you choose, parking won’t be an issue.
4. Weather is almost never an issue. If you’ve traveled the Northeastern or Midwestern United States between November and March, you probably have a story or two about sleeping in an airport or pulling off the road into a Motel 6 when visibility suddenly plummeted to zero. Trains especially are hardy enough to power through many seasonal storms. That’s not to say their trips never get delayed or cancelled, but it’s probably less likely than a cancelled or delayed flight – especially if your original plan was to fly out of Chicago. Can you tell I’ve been burned by the Windy City?
5. You have a Plan B if your car quits unexpectedly. If you know your local bus routes, you’ll always have a way to get around, which is a great skill if you ever find yourself without a car. Of course relying on the bus for your day-to-day errands requires a bit more pre-planning than simply jumping behind the wheel, but who wouldn’t benefit from an opportunity to hone their organizational skills?
Want more reasons to take the road – or track – less traveled? Check it out:
Putting the “Bus” Back in Business Travel (Yahoo! Travel) – warning: video might play automatically
The Unique Amtrak Experience with Many Benefits (Amtrak)
How to Travel Cheap on Bus and Train (Money Crashers)
7 Reasons to Take the Bus (Wise Bread)