Over Labor Day weekend we trekked 480 miles for a family wedding. We could have easily taken a short flight or train ride to our destination, but the cost was unbelievable. $200 per person roundtrip on Amtrak. That’s not even for business class! Instead of shelling out several Benjamins on this trip, we turned our weekend getaway into a good old-fashioned highway adventure – and we saved serious money!
There’s such rigidity in traveling by plane. First you have to get to the airport, which means parking your car at the $8 economy lot (or $20 garage if you’re feeling lazy, let’s be real) or taking a $20-$50 cab ride. Then you suffer through enduring TSA screenings, hanging around the concourse reading People magazine, and waiting forever to board the plane. By now you’ve already wasted 3-4 hours just getting onto the plane. Couple that with everything that follows the plane landing and making your way to your final destination, and there goes the entire first day of your trip! Flying is meant to be the fastest mode of transportation, but it sucks up a significant chunk of our valuable vacation time.
Advantages of Roadtrips
Roadtrips let you set your own schedule. You can time your trip so that you’re not battling commuters trying to get to work. Google Maps has your back if an accident causes delays down the road. You can stop anytime you want, even if it’s just to stretch your legs. Even more, if you want to get a head start on that day’s driving, you can do it without completely altering the rest of your trip. The actual drive may take hours of travel time, but there’s also very little time wasted. No waiting in line, no additional modes of transportation, and no sitting on the tarmac for delays. We had virtually no delays our entire trip, and we didn’t have to deal with all the extra stress of air travel.
The key to a successful roadtrip is to plan your route waaay in advance. I’m talking serious research. Look up any scheduled construction that may impact your route. Research heavy traffic times for the area. Plan for any toll roads, or skip them entirely like we did. This move saved us money and time! We chose a path that had less traffic than the major routes, which helped us avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic on busy interstates.
The best part of roadtrips is stumbling upon new places. We found out there was a brewery on our route, so we made a point to stop by for some provisions (by provisions, I mean bratwurst and gigantic cookies). We also passed through adorable towns and farms that held hidden gems just waiting to be explored. Our list of places to go back to this fall is a mile long. We passed so many farm stands and markets that we have to visit! Throughout our trip we kept exclaiming to each other, “I never knew [insert small town] was so beautiful!”. What better way to get to know a new area than to drive right through it?
How Much Did We Save?
I said that we ended up saving money on our trip, but I haven’t explained how much. Well here it is: the final tally of our travel costs.
- Gas: $35.00
- Tolls: $1.00 (because exits are hard)
- Total: $36.00
How much was Amtrak again? $400. You tell me which is the winner.
Of course, not every trip can be done by driving, and few people have a gas-sipping wonder of a car like we do. But for those shorter trips where traveling to and from the airport takes practically as long as the flight itself, I challenge you to look into roadtripping. You might find it time well spent.
~ Ms. RW