You booked your transportation, reserved hotel rooms, and maybe even packed a bag, but wait, how are you getting around once you arrive at your destination? You may have already figured out your transportation comfort zone if you have traveled for a while. But, if you are new, here are a few ways to get around after arrival.
Knowing how to get around without a car is a valuable and cost-effective skill you can develop.
Background On This Article
A Facebook follower, Sue (a fantastic person and past co-worker), asks how she can get around after arriving at her destination.
I never thought of explaining this topic because it’s my second nature now. Sometimes I forget that second nature for me is new and possibly confusing for others. After reading her suggestion, I thought, Sue, what a great idea.
Arriving At Your Destination
Many train stations are in the city’s heart, like Chicago or Philadelphia, while other stations, such as Charleston, SC, are like airports and nowhere near the city center.
Fortunately, some large and small communities connect their stations and airports via rail or bus public transportation.
Option 1: Getting Rides From Friends And Family
Having friends or family pick you up is an economical choice for getting around, and it can be fun, well, depending on your friends or family.
My sister lived in Charleston, SC, and Omaha, NE, where Amtrak serves but does not connect service to the areas where she lives. Because of this, she has offered to be my and folks’ chauffeur.
Tips To Make Everyone’s Life Better
Dates and schedule
To make life better, confirm dates and schedules before booking, so everyone is on the same page. Reminders sometimes help to make sure that everyone shows up when they should. Before making changes, make sure they work with the other person.
Electronic calendars such as Google Calendar or whatever app works for you can help make sure that everyone has their dates correct.
Share your details
Besides dates and times, route numbers for buses and trains can help the other person know if you are running on time. The same is true if you are flying.
The best app/website to keep track of planes is FlightAware.
A small gift or offering to buy a meal, coffee, or drink, can help make the inconvenience a little bet for the other person.
Option 2: Walking
Walking is my first choice when traveling because it is cheap, good for you, and helps familiarize yourself with your surrounding area faster.
What goes into my decision to walk
The main factors that determine whether I walk are how far away places are, the weather, how safe I feel, and how I physically feel at the time.
A few years ago, I took Amtrak’s train, The City of New Orleans, from Chicago to visit New Orleans. After arriving, I stepped out of the train station, entered my hotel into GPS, turned on some tunes, and started walking to my hotel.
I was almost to The Hotel Daulphine when I noticed a restaurant I wanted to visit, Killer Po-boy. Granted, I could have found Killer using Google Maps or other means, but seeing Killer on my way to the hotel sealed the deal and made it easy to find when I went to eat.
Before long, I had a Cheese Omelet (with bacon) Po-boy in front of me with a little Crystal Hot Sause on top and a cold brew to finish the deal. Instead of wasting time in my hotel trying to decide where to eat, I could make a decision quicker.
Keeping your eyes open may find a great “hole in the wall” you might miss when you get a ride.
Side note: Killer Po-Boy’s Cheese Omelets is an excellent choice, their menu (just in case).
Option 3: Public Transportation
My second choice is public transportation. I have gathered a few transportation cards from cities around the country over the year. It’s not a bad collection; it saves me time and money when arriving.
Having my cards loaded ahead of time allows me to start my experience once I hit the ground and look less like a tourist.
Public transport can be intimidating initially, but you will be a pro after a few uses in no time.
Before traveling to a new city, you can often find a Youtube video or website talking about the public transportation system in that area and the information you need to ride.
Option 4: Hotel And Other Shuttles
Hotels often offer free or economical shuttles. Check with your hotels to see if you need to make reservations for the shuttle service. Hotel shuttles may pick up at airports and train or bus stations but check with the hotel.
Like GO Rightway in the midwest, other shuttle services offer rides to airports and stations. Check to see if there is a service in your area. A hotel or hostel may also have suggestions if they do not offer a shuttle. These services can be a little pricey, but these shuttles specialize in transporting travelers.
Travel tip: Reserve early and confirm your reservations a day before your scheduled ride. If there are delays, let the service know as soon as possible. That way, no one has to wait for you when you are not going there when you originally booked.
Option 5: Taxies And Rideshares
Hire a driver; this could include Uber, Lyft, taxi, rickshaw, horse & buggy, or whatever else that may be around.
I have only hired a taxi once and used rideshares a few times.
Taxies: Taxis are often waiting at stations and airports, and if you are in a hurry, these could be a great choice. Often taxis are waiting for people and are available 24/7. Cabs may not be the cheapest, but the service may be available when rideshares are not.
Rideshares: Uber and Lyft are the two leading rideshare companies. For a ride, you use an app to request a car, and someone will pick you up and take you where you want to go. For more information, check out this article for tips on this service.
Option 6: Renting A Car
Rental companies are often at many major airports and train stations. Some companies, such as Enterprise, will pick you up with your rental car (some restrictions apply and are unavailable in all areas).
There are advantages of having a car, such as going where you want, but downsides.
There are downsides to renting a car.
- Renting cars can be expensive.
- Parking can be outraged in large cities and may be more expensive than the rental cost.
- Hidden taxes and fees
When to rent
- If you have mobility issues
- Extended day trips that other transportation options may not be available
- Rural areas
Beware that some hotels do charge for parking. I have heard of this happening in New Orleans and San Fransico. Some hotels do not have parking, so you may need to use the street or nearby parking ramp.
Parking in cities like Chicago costs upwards of $40 plus a day. Before renting a car, do a little research on what it will cost you. You might find that public transport, rideshares, or taxis are cheaper in the long run.
One way to save money on car rentals is to batch your destinations together, so instead of renting a car for the whole trip, you only rent the vehicle when you need it and as long as you need it.
Option 7: Bike Rental
For some, this one can be an excellent compromise, less expensive than car rentals, faster than walking, and more flexible than public transportation.
Many of the major cities now have a bike rental system.
The way these bike rentals work (in a nutshell)
- Sign up for a membership
- Go to the rental location and pick up a bike.
- When you finish, return the bike to any of the rental sites.
Hostels (if you stay at one) or local bike shops may offer bike rentals. A quick Google search will help you find a bike in no time.
I hope this article helps you with your travel plans. I like to walk because it is good for me to get out and save money.
Today with little effort, you can find what services communities offer, from public and private transport, car rentals, and lodging. With tools such as Google maps, it’s easy to figure distances between where you are and where you want to go.
Travel tip: with a smaller destination, be aware that there might not be a car rental agency where you need one. If this is the case, consider getting off a stop before or after your destination and then driving where you need to go. Or see if the rental company will deliver to your location. Then you can rent a car and drive the rest of the way. This suggestion may not always be feasible but can be practical in some cases and worth checking out.
We only have so much travel money; let’s use it wisely!