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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Amtrak and the Broke Single Mom

If you've ever wanted a good alternative when looking to plan a budget vacation, look no further than Amtrak.

photo credit Gene Gable

I will be the first to tell you that I usually say driving is the cheapest way to get where you're going. But sometimes it just isn't possible. Maybe you live in a city and don't own a car. Or maybe you don't have a license. Perhaps you'd rather not drive a long distance. Whatever the reason just know that flying is not the only way to arrive, especially when you are on a super tight budget.

And while yes there are buses, Greyhound and Megabus are what we use when my sons dance crew goes to NYC for dance battles, for longer rides you might not want to go that route, especially with small children.

When I used Amtrak for our Spring Break trip to Chicago, I got our tickets for less than the price of one airline ticket and surprisingly the price was about the same as the bus.

Perks of traveling on Amtrak:

  • Better prices than air fare (depending on the route)
  • More comfortable than the bus
  • Kids 15 and younger pay half price
  • Three 50 lb bags allowed to be checked in free per ticket holder
  • Two 50 lb bags allowed as carry on free per ticket holder
  • You get to experience train travel (like in the olden days)
  • The kids will love the dining carts
  • The seating is big, roomy, and comfy and comes equipped with outlets to keep your phones and laptops charged

As an example here are prices if for me and my sons if we were to decide to revisit Chicago.

Prices for April 27th to May 4th trip for one adult with two kids

(Bus and train fare include discounts for children so I just averaged the price per person from the total)

American Airlines: New York City to Chicago

$212 - Total $636

Greyhound New York City to Chicago:

$174.33 -Total $442

Amtrak New York City to Chicago:

$129 -Total $388

So the next time you are planning your budget vacation, price out all of your options, grab a book, pillow and comfy blanket and give Amtrak a try.

Happy Travels

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