Comparing Travel Cost: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
My wife was excited to see her dad for the first time since he moved to Texas over three years ago. While talking with him to get his travel plans, she found out he was actually taking a bus. He thought taking a bus would be cheaper than flying, but when he stated he paid over $300 for a one way bus ticket I was sure there was a cheaper way for him to travel.
I compared the cost of a one way ticket to travel from Dallas, TX to Minneapolis, MN by train, plane, bus, and automobile. Here’s what I found:
- Advance purchase (no refunds) : $89
- Refundable Ticket : $187
- Travel Time: 23 hours
- Advantage : Inexpensive, don’t have to drive
- Disadvantages : Long travel time
- Value Ticket: $185
- Travel Time: 22 hours
- Advantages : Don’t have to drive
- Disadvantages :Long Travel Time, cost
- Coach Ticket: $83.10
- Travel Time: 2 hours 31 minutes
- Advantages :Short travel time, cost, don’t have to drive
- Disadvantages : Have to leave the ground (some people don’t like to fly)
- One Week Car Rental : $241
- Travel Time: Variable
- Advantages : Have transportation at destination
- Disadvantages: Cost (gas too!), travel time,
The cost of the bus ticket I found didn’t seem to correlate with what my father-in-law paid for his ticket. By playing around with the dates I found that a bus ticket becomes more expensive when the travel date is very close. When I asked my father-in-law some questions, I found that he purchased his ticket just a few days before he left, and he didn’t do any research regarding cost. He just assumed a bus ticket would be less expensive.
Image courtesy of ddpavumbaat FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The cost of every one of these options will vary based upon how close your travel date is, as well as your starting and ending location. Never assume that one method of travel will be cheaper than another. Give yourself plenty of time to investigate and weigh your options, then make an educated decision.