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whats the best way to travel america?

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whats the best way to travel america?

Last year me and a friend went inter railing in Europe and had so much fun. Next year we would like to do something similar in America but can't work out the best way to do it.

Everywhere we look it says its best to take the buses. But is there a ticket we could get that would allow us on and off buses over say a 60 day period?

Unfortunately we don't drive so public transport is the only way we can go.

Any help on this would be fantastic so we can really start to plan it!

Thanks! (:

Stillwater...
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1. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

America, being so much larger then Europe, does play out so well for traveling by rail. I know that sounds funny, but in Europe, jumping on a train for a few hrs. or over night puts you in another country. Here it takes days to travel from coast to coast. While the Amtrak system is not as efficient as Eurail, it does coves a large portion of the US. They do have 15, 30, and 45 day passes.

http://www.amtrak.com/home

Liverpool, UK
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2. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

Most visitors planning to tour the US probably rent a car but this is not an option for you.

In addition to the amtrak service you might be able to put something together using greyhound bus.

http://www.greyhound.com/default.aspx

For long distances I wouldn't rule out flying between major cities as it will save a lot of time and not as expensive as you might think - Southwest airlines is a good option for the budget traveller.

http://www.southwest.com/

N. Idaho
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3. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

I, personally, would not travel by bus in the US.

Pam

Cleveland
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4. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

Traveling by bus may be a good or bad experience depending upon route and location.

Persons that I know that have used buses, often Megabus by younger friends, don't seem to mind it. But those travels have been in the Midwest.

I've seen posters/reviewers complement Megabus and Bolt in the Northeast corridor.

Greyhound is the large, national bus company.

Amtrak trains are limited with often inconvenient travel times and unreliable schedules, outside of the Northeast corridor.

Pittsburgh...
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5. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

I would not recommend buses by any means. Buses are dirty, smelly and fatal bus crashes always seem to be on the news. Plus, when you actually get to your destination, how are you supposed to get around?

The difference between Europe and America is vast. The wide open spaces and sprawl really necessitate the need for a vehicle except in a few select cities. America is not seen within its cities on the bus route- experiencing America is about the wide open spaces, majestic mountains, and other natural wonders. You won't get to see the real America without a car. Sure, you can see NYC just fine, but the Empire State Building is nothing compared to the Grand Canyon or the view from Glacier Point in Yosemite. You won't be able to hail a cab in a National Park.

I would really rethink the option of learning to drive if your trip involves any destination outside of the NE corridor. I am not sure what laws are like where you are from, but consider borrowing a friend's car or going to a driving school and getting a license. Car rental is very inexpensive and fuel is a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere.

Before bus, I would look into Amtrack next, but pick your stops carefully ensuring you can experience the destination and find a way to get back to the train station. Online schedules may say there is bus service every 30 minutes, but don't count that- US public transit is usually late, dirty and sometimes puts vulnerable tourists in dangerous situations.

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

Ring0rosie, if they are under 25, renting a car is a very expensive option.

I am not a fan of travelling with Greyhound because the connections can be really dodgy. You would need to plan carefully to make sure you aren't stuck overnight somewhere in an unsafe area. I have used the buses in the North East & they were fine, but they were short distance.

I would choose Amtrak over Greyhound, but you would need to use buses to get to many places such as the Grand Canyon. It is doable, but you would need to preplan very carefully. Check the Amtrak website for more info & also check out the Train Travel forum here on TA.

Have you considered doing a tour? I did a small tour with a company similar to Trek America on my first trip to the US & it was a great way to see the Grand Canyon & Yosemite. I'm not sure what companies are around now, but look at Intrepid too. These tours are usually aimed at 18-35's, but they aren't as party orientated as Contiki.

Cleveland
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7. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

<<I would not recommend buses by any means. Buses are dirty, smelly and fatal bus crashes always seem to be on the news. Plus, when you actually get to your destination, how are you supposed to get around?>>

Buses are much safer than cars based on passenger miles traveled. Yes, there are fatal bus crashes, but they are dwarfed by the number of car fatalities in the U.S.

http://airfare.michaelbluejay.com/modes.html

I'm not certain it's fair to describe all buses, or even most buses, as smelly.

bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-07/u-s-travelers-…

Megabus drops passengers off at major transportation hubs in cities. Its drop locations are more convenient than airports and cheaper than airports for taxi service.

I would agree, with few exceptions, that it's hard to visit attractions outside of cities in the U.S. by bus.

Edited: 31 March 2013, 05:33
Stillwater...
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8. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

I've traveled in many countries in the world. Taking a bus in 3rd world countries like Guatemala, or Honduras, is not the same as a bus in the US. Buses in the US are cleaner, have more safety inspections and under go frequent maintenance checks. Yet I'd get on a chicken bus in Guatemala tomorrow if I were there.

To suggest our buses are unsafe is, at the least, misguided. Not everyone is comfortable driving, or learning to drive. If someone states they do not drive, and wish to use public transportation, respect their assessment of their abilities.

In re-reading my first post, I notice I skipped 1 word, that word being "NOT"

"America, being so much larger then Europe, does play out so well for traveling by rail." Should have been,

"America, being so much larger then Europe, does NOT play out so well for traveling by rail."

I hope this didn't confuse anyone too much.

Lewes, United...
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9. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

Hi Lily

It's rather amusing finding a question about travel in the USA, specifically not with a car, on a road trip forum where all the regulars are of the view that a car is the only way to travel.

Given that none of you drive, then you are forced, if you wish to do a totally independent trip, to use Amtrak trains and/or a combination of buses operated by Greyhound, Megabus and Bolt, depending on where in the country you will be. You don't say which part(s) of the USA you plan to visit, or for how long. That will make a difference of how easily arranged and viable your trip will be. Both bus and train services are generally better over on the east as there are more towns and cities there. Getting right across America is much more of a challenge, but it's not impossible - it just needs more homework and planning. Do note that some bus times for long distance buses are seriously unfriendly.

You need to get the security and safety points into perspective, as pointed out by yucatan. I get the impression that at least two of you will be travelling together. That should be fine. Solo travellers have more challenges because of needing somebody to guard your possession while you take a comfort stop or need to visit a shop, but with two or a group, this is easier to arrange.

However, do consider ellenwillow's suggestion of a group tour. Travelling with like minded folk of a similar age can be fun, too.

Have a look for more help and ideas, also, on Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum as this has more younger travellers participating.

Have a great trip,

SWT

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10. Re: whats the best way to travel america?

Hi, Lily. I did not realize from your previous post that you did not know how to drive. That puts a whole different spin on things.

You can certainly pick out some major cities to visit and then check out some of Amtrak's scenic routes.

…nationalgeographic.com/travel/…

In the US, outside of the major cities and the Northeast Corridor, mass transit, in general, is the "second banana" of transportion. It is not the primary transportation for people who have means, so it is not heavily funded or widely supported. You see that reflected in the locations of the bus depots--frequently, they are not located in a thriving part of town.

Having a car is all about having easy access. Only you can determine how necessary/important that is to you on this trip.