There’s not much that better captures the American character than the idea of the road trip. Romanticized by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in 1957 and innumerable books and films that have debuted in the decades since, road trips are held up as the ultimate embodiment of freedom.
Such a claim is not without merit. Automobiles do represent a certain type of freedom, giving their drivers the ability to go where they want, when they want. The United States boasts excellent roads, and point-to-point driving directions can be obtained directly from sites like MapQuest and Google. What could be better then jumping in the car for a cross-country adventure?
Road trips are terribly expensive. It might not seem like it at first, because people tend to think of the use of their own cars as free. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When you drive, you use gasoline, which costs money.
Mileage costs money, too–maybe not in immediate dollars-and-cents terms, but in the life of your car. Putting twenty miles on your car every day is a lot gentler on it than driving six thousand miles (both ways, remember) on a cross-country trek.
How about the physical wear and tear on your body? It’s exhausting to be driving for six, ten, or fourteen hours every day.
Tolls? Yep, those have to be paid.
Speeding tickets? It could happen.
Oh, and don’t forget the time that’s wasted whenever you get lost. You can avoid the risk by sticking to your directions exactly as written–but if you’re going to do that, what was the point of driving in the first place? What happened to all of that freedom?
Save time and money by taking advantage of America’s extensive bus networks. Greyhound and its partners provide service to virtually every place in the nation on a daily basis. You can buy individual tickets or get an unlimited pass good for weeks or even months, and it’s not expensive.
What’s it like riding the bus? A lot like riding in a car. Except you don’t pay for gas. Or tolls. Or tickets. The bus doesn’t get lost. And you don’t have to car about the mileage, because you’re not paying for the maintenance.
All of that adds up to an interesting fact: over long distances, driving is the most expensive common way to travel, while taking the bus is the cheapest.
Do you lose flexibility on the bus? A little bit, but not as much as you think. Again, the bus goes just about everywhere. With a bus pass, you can get on or off wherever you want. There are stops for food and to stretch your legs–the same stops you’d be making if you were driving–but the bathroom is onboard.
So, next time you start thinking about that road trip, do yourself a favor and look at Greyhound.
And if you absolutely, positively feel the need to drive, at least put all of those miles on a rental car instead of driving your own.