Using planes, trains and buses to travel around the country
Most students will be traveling at some point this summer, whether it be back home to parents or on vacations and mission trips. The thought of traveling usually brings only one vehicle to mind: a car. However, there are other modes of transportation that might be more cost and time effective such as planes, trains and buses to get people where they want to go. There may be some stereotypes, but what is the harm in looking at options? After all, summer is about adventure and branching out.
Minneapolis to Chicago
Want to take a weekend trip to Chicago from Minneapolis? You can actually choose from all three options.
There are multiple locations to hop on a Greyhound bus in the Twin Cities, including downtown Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota campus, at the Amtrak station in St. Paul, near the State Capitol, and at the airport. There are also departures around the clock and tickets start as low as $50 for a round trip. Unfortunately, there are many stops and layovers which can drag the trip to over 12 hours long, the longest of the three options.
Megabus does not offer as many starting locations and departure times, but depending on how soon you book your trip, the cost is significantly lower than taking the Greyhound. Another feature of Megabus is free Wi-Fi. Megabus can take you from Minneapolis to Chicago in about eight hours.
In about the same time, you can take the train that travels between St. Paul’s Amtrak station and Chicago’s Union Station. There is a daily train that departs early in the morning and leaves Chicago in the early afternoon. Round trip costs on average $110, but there is more freedom to move around on a train versus taking the bus or flying.
The most convenient way to travel is by plane. A flight to Chicago from Minneapolis/St. Paul airport only takes a little over an hour. Round trip airfare varies from around $80 to $250.
Minneapolis to San Francisco
Itching for some California sunshine? Greyhound is at your service for cross country trips. Nevertheless, expect numerous layovers and transfers. Round trips from Minneapolis to San Francisco would cost $378 and take approximately 50 hours.
How does the California Zephyr sound? The California Zephyr is a train route between Chicago and San Francisco that chugs across the Midwest plains, over the Rocky Mountains, through the Sierra Nevada mountains and past skyscrapers, all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Including fare from Minneapolis to Chicago, a round trip would cost as low as $260. The 52 hour journey may be long, but it is certainly breathtaking. Not to mention that in this case, taking the train is surprisingly cheaper than taking the bus.
Flying is another option. Round trip airfare is comparable to the other options, ranging from $308 to $368. Of course, that is not first class. Still, four to five hours is much more convenient than two days.
Just remember, the sooner you book your trip, the cheaper cost of transportation. Also, look for student, group, club, and military discounts.
I cannot speak for whom you might sit next to, or how the bus will smell, but if you want to do something out of the ordinary, do not drive. Get “loco” for locomotives, stop putting up a fuss about buses, and soar high with airplanes. Now all you have to do is pick a destination and plan your route. You never know what will be around the bend.