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Transportation for Every Type of Traveller
The United States is a massive country and getting across it is no mean feat. There are many options for travellers in the US, but choosing the method of transportation is highly dependant on the overall goals of the traveller. There are four main types of travellers, and each of them has unique solutions to their travel needs.
How to Decide which Type of Traveller you Are
Before taking a trip, it is important to know which kind of traveller you are. Depending on the goals of your trip, your travel needs and options will change.
Figure Out the Basics
- Decide what your goal is. Are you travelling for leisure, for business, or for another reason?
- Where are you going? Are you travelling to a neighboring region, a city in another state, or to an international destination?
- Be realistic about your timeline. Do you have the time to take a road trip, or do you need to get to your end location as soon as possible?
- Plan your budget. Creating a budget involves deciding three major things:
- The amount of money you will need for travel arrangements.
- The amount of money you can comfortably budget on activities.
- The amount of money you can spend on spontaneous choices.
The Most Common Types of Travellers and their Modes of Transport
The vacationer: Often the vacationer does not have a strict timeline to work with, depending on the goals of the vacation. If you are travelling for the joy of travelling, you might consider taking some of the more novel modes of transportation.
- Taking a speed train is fun. Commercial passenger trains often have dining cars, sleeping rooms, and comfy seats. Depending on how long you will be on the train, you can take advantage of all of these amenities. Watching the great American scenery fly by from the window of a train car is a thing of beauty.
- Bus travel is an experience. Riding a bus for long distances will introduce you to interesting people. Bus riders tend to be on limitless time frames and don’t mind stopping often to load and unload passengers. There are express busses across country, but more regional busses will stop off at numerous stations, giving riders a chance to visit places they likely would never go otherwise.
- Cruising across the water is like being on a floating hotel. River boats and ocean cruises are popular methods of travel for vacationers. Travelling by boat offers resort amenities, all you can eat buffets, and stop at exotic destinations.
- Driving offers flexibility. Travellers looking to see the country and move around at their own pace will love a road trip. Usually, road-trippers take their personal vehicles, load up their belongings, get some great road tunes and snacks and put the pedal to the metal. This method requires mapping out a loose itinerary to keep drivers on track.
The business traveller: People who travel for business are on tight timeframes and have very specific destinations in mind. Generally, they are seeking the most convenient form of transportation.
- Air travel is the quickest and most economic way of covering large distances.
- The automobile is the most reliable means of travelling from place to place, and getting around once a traveller arrives. For shorter business trips, driving might be the best way to get from a to b. Since most places in the US are automobile dependant, travellers will need a car to get around their destination, anyway.
- For some business trips, speed trains are possible. Railway connectivity is low in the US, but major cities on the East Coast still have direct trains.
The one way-tripper: These travellers are moving from place to place. In general, they move themselves and their stuff.
- Moving trucks are not the best ride, but they are the best way to move things. For people moving to a new city, renting a moving truck and driving it is a popular, cost effective choice.
- Fly the people, ship the stuff. There are moving services that will deliver customer’s belongings for them. Usually, the person moving will have to be there for the truck loading, and then will meet the movers at the final destination for unloading. This option works well if a person needs to arrive as soon as possible for a new job or other obligation.
- Sometimes, leaving the stuff behind is the only option. In these cases, bus travel, car travel, and air travel are equally viable, depending on the time table the traveller is working with.
The international traveller: Travellers who are leaving the country have options, depending on where they are going. No matter the reason for the trip, travellers with international destinations will be limited to a few modes of transport.
- Car travel to Canada or Mexico: For US travellers looking to visit the other North American countries, it is possible to drive across the border.
- Airplane travel will get travellers to the most places. Since the US takes up most of its continent, travelling internationally generally entails leaving that continent. The best way to traverse oceans is via airplane.
- Ocean Cruises are available for some locations. These cruises are part of the vacation though, so travellers who are looking to visit a specific city internationally will not find these appropriate.
How to Compare Means of Transport
If taking a trip, it is important to look at the options. Make sure you compare transport companies, as well as general transport methods.
- The most common method of travel is airline travel, mostly due to the cost and time efficiency that airplanes offer. Airlines also offer high connectivity of destinations.
- Bus travel offers regional routes at lower cost, but is of limited usefulness for cross country trips. Cross country bus trips can take anywhere from 20 to 36 hours one way, and don’t offer much in the way of savings over air travel. Regional travel, on the other hand, can be as low as $15 dollars one way, from major city to city.
- Train connectivity is low in the US, but trains offer novelty. Train travel from major city to major city can be cost effective and relaxing. Some major metropolitan areas have local trains and commuter rail services, which are widely used.
- Cruise liners are reserved for special vacation circumstances. Cruises are more like travelling hotels than they are modes of transport.
- There are regional ferries in coastal and river areas that ease local travel conditions. For travel to island destinations, sometimes this is the only method. Ferries are often cheaper than small flights, and don’t take much longer depending on the destination. An added bonus is that passengers will be able to drink in the sea air from the ferry deck.
- Ridesharing and taxi services are great for people who don’t own cars, but need to get around. Very few US cities are “walkable” and many of them lack reliable and regular public transportation. Calling a rideshare or cab is a great alternative to renting a car.
- Auto rentals are for travellers who don’t own their own car locally, or at all, but still need to flexibly get around. Having the ability to drive wherever and whenever is desired is a huge bonus.
How to Save on Booking Travel Tickets
Once you have decided what kind of traveller you are and which form of transport best fits your needs, it is time to book tickets.
- Third party travel booking websites offer flights, car rentals and hotel bookings from a variety of vendors. Usually, you can use these sites to compare and book your tickets.
- Professional travel agencies offer another level of service. If you are feeling overwhelmed by making your own plans, you can have an agent create an itinerary and book your tickets for you. Check out some of the travel company reviews to narrow down the best travel company for your trip.
- Vendor specific websites for bus, train, and airplane tickets are another option. Travellers can go straight to the source for the clearest offering of tickets a specific vendor has. It might be worth comparing for the best reviewed airlines in the business.
- Always rate shop. Most of the time, you will be able to find different itineraries with similar timeframes. WIth a little internet sleuthing, you should be able to find the lowest price for the schedule that closest meets your needs. There are often cheap flight deals offered by major airlines.
- If you can handle it, travel when most people don’t. Taking flights and busses overnight tends to be cheaper, because those tickets are less in demand.
- Travel miles rewards cards are a good way of accruing deals on travel. If you can get a credit card that offers travel reward points, try using it to pay for your monthly incidentals. Pay off the balance each month to avoid paying interest, and rack up the travel miles.
- If you have time, waiting for a bus promotion could be worth it. Sometimes, bus companies offer cheap bus ticket deals, like “Get to Any City for $69.00.” The catch is, of course, that these tickets are rarely direct or express.
- Train companies often offer enticing travel packages, in an effort to boost customers. For a novel and affordable experience, consider looking into some of the deals offered by major train operators.
What Consumers Are Saying about Travel Companies
Each method of transportation has its issues. Some common transport company complaints across all ticketed travel methods are:
- Baggage problems
- Customer service complaints
- Seating issues
- Cramped and crowded conditions
- Delayed service and missed connections
- Refused boarding of support animals
- Hidden fees
Some common consumers’ praise comes in the areas of:
- Connectivity to a wide range of areas
- Ease of booking
- Scheduling options
- Entertainment options like WiFi, in transit movies, and radio.
The best airlines and the best bus services are measured by how well they address each of these. Reading transport company reviews before purchasing a ticket can help offer insight on which company to choose.
Travellers will need to decide what their overall goals of taking their trip are. Once they know what kind of traveller they are, figuring out which mode of transportation to take becomes a breeze. Vacationers, business travellers, and one-way trippers all have different needs, and therefore different options for making their trips a success. No matter what, a traveller who prepares themselves by doing their research and creating a reasonable itinerary, budget, and travel plan is sure to have a great trip.