Are you ready for your next vacation? Besides picking a great destination, you may be wondering how you’re going to get there. You can either save or waste a lot of time or money depending on what you pick. Do you want to take a plane over or do you want to drive the scenic route? Looking at riding up a bus or do you want to be different and enjoy a peaceful train ride? There are many possibilities, each with their own pros and cons.

The Most Economic Mode of Transportation

I decided to plan a fictional round-trip to New York City, NY from Raleigh, NC for September to get an apples to apples comparison between the different modes of transportation. I’m using Priceline, Amtrak, Greyhound, and Google Maps to get my estimates. Perhaps it can help you decide on your next vacation.

Financial Costs

Honestly for many people if it’s too expensive, then you’re not going to consider it.

  • Car: The financial costs mainly depend if you’re going to use your own car or if you’re going to go with a rental car. For longer trips, we prefer using a rental. We use the Name Your Price on Priceline to keep it low and if it should break down, we can just turn it in and get another car. We don’t want to be stranded with a huge repair bill in a town we’re not familiar with. On Priceline, it would be $175 for the week plus gas. Driving to New York City also means paying for tolls along the way which adds to the total costs.
  • Airplane: You really have to hunt down to find a really good deal on plan tickets. Thankfully there are several sites that can help your track down some cheap tickets. On Priceline, it would be $336 each way for 2 adults and a baby for a total of about $670.
  • Train: Taking the train can a deal compared to flying, but it’s more expensive than the bus or a rental car many times. For Amtrak, it would be $165 each way for 2 adults and a baby for a total of about $330.
  • Bus: Taking a bus in many cases is the cheapest option, but not always. When looking at prices, I was surprised to see that Greyhound’s offer was higher than Amtrak’s. It’s $385 for the round trip.

I want to note that I haven’t included all the fees and taxes because for some options like a plane, you don’t really know until you make the actual purchase.

Time Costs

Besides how much it costs, you also have to factor in the time it takes to get to your vacation destination. It doesn’t do you much good if a big chunk of your trip is just getting there (unless that’s the plan).

  • Car: Car can be a long ride, but there is a lot of flexibility based on how you drive. Some people like taking the scenic route to break up the drive while others just want to get there. You have to see which is best for you. On Google Maps, the trip is estimated to be 9 hours.
  • Airplane: Many times, going by plane is the quickest option for us. The flight from Raleigh to New York City, for example, is about an hour and 45 minutes.
  • Train: Never ridden Amtrak, I had no idea of how long it would be to travel, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the trip to New York City would be around 10 hours.
  • Bus: My personal experience has been that taking the bus is the most time consuming option. On the other hand you can catch up on some reading while you’re riding. Greyhound’s average for the trip puts it at 15 hours.

Thoughts on Vacations

You have decide which mode of transportation is best for you. Before finding out we were going to be parents, I would choose taking a rental car. Unless the trip was extremely long or I found a fantastic deal with the airlines, I didn’t mind driving to our vacation spots.

Now though, I’m not so sure. On one hand plane tickets can cost a pretty penny, but shortening the travel time might be the way to go to keep stress down. I’m curious to see how others decide on how to deal with traveling with babies.

By the way, if you’re planning a vacation, don’t forget to check out some related posts on the topic here on GPT:

There’s also a wonderful post on cheap yet cool activities that will help you enjoy your next trip without breaking your budget. Wherever you go for your next vacation, I hope you enjoy it!


Laura Martinez

Laura Martinez