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Transportation Alternatives to St. Louis
Old 09-21-2008, 11:15 AM   #1
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Transportation Alternatives to St. Louis

I recently swore off plane travel due to security hassles, waits, cancellations, and cramped seating. But we want to go to DD's graduation in St. Louis in May. Alternatives:

1. Bite bullet and fly.

2. Drive (camp along the way -- show DW the country)

3. Rent car and drive. Is there some advantage to this?

4. Take train.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-21-2008, 11:32 AM   #2
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Take US40 going east and US90 coming back - you get a diversity of sights and environments.
Camping and Campgrounds - KOA Kampgrounds of America, Inc. have Kamping Kabins - get their discount card and you are set.
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Old 09-21-2008, 11:40 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I recently swore off plane travel due to security hassles, waits, cancellations, and cramped seating. But we want to go to DD's graduation in St. Louis in May. Alternatives:

1. Bite bullet and fly.

2. Drive (camp along the way -- show DW the country)

3. Rent car and drive. Is there some advantage to this?

4. Take train.

Thoughts?
Tell her that you are so proud of her and would be thrilled to see her graduate and share her special moment, but then ask her if she would rather have you there, or if she would really rather have the $$$$$ that it would cost you for such a trip added to her graduation present.

You might be surprised.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:08 PM   #4
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try that with me as your kid and you'll not only be flying down to see me graduate and to take me to a fabulous dinner but you'll also be handing me the matching check. guilt me will you? i'll show you guilt.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:17 PM   #5
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I would vote for drive and camp. I'd take the bikes and make it into a fun biking adventure.
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Old 09-21-2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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I like choo-choo trains! A nice easy pace....eat when ya want...sleep when ya want....let them deal with traffic, weather, etc.
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Old 09-21-2008, 02:45 PM   #7
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I fly a fair bit for work. I have the hang of it and am getting paid for it, but it is a bit of a pain, especially if you haven't flown in a while and are unsure about what all the restrictions are and about the 3-1-1 bags for carry-on toiletries. Those are the two big things I see delaying others--and me if I'm behind them--in the security line. Since I fly frequently I have slip-off shoes, a velcro belt (no metal) and a pouch in which I carry everything I need to take off for the metal detector to get through more quickly. (But keep your boarding pass on your person as you go through the metal detector.) And you really need to get to the airport 2 hours before the flight leaves to leave time for bag check and security check.

As for driving, that's a long drive, but if you have the time it could be a fun trip. For a single guy I find flying can often be cheaper than driving. With two or more obviously there's a scale of economy in driving.

I can't think of an advantage to renting and driving unless you have an older car you don't quite trust or need a minivan or passenger van to carry the people. But minivans run quite a bit higher than mid-size rentals, and Passenger vans run more. You can rent a travel van with all the luxury, but damn it's expensive. Last I checked--several years ago--they ran $900 + per week.

The train could be really cool, but it may take much longer to get there than you think. Last I checked--6 years ago--to get from DFW to Indianapolis would've taken a couple of days due to a 12-hour layover in Chicago. <checking web page> ... Actually it doesn't look as bad now, and there appear to be decent routes from Oakland to St. Louis and a bit of an out-of-the-way route from Los Angeles to St. Louis. Looks like you can get there in 2-3 days by train for under $200 per person (oops..that was the one-way price).

May? Planning ahead, are we?

EDIT: Hmm, I have some time off and no plans. I might check out a train trip somewhere just for the experience.

EDIT 2: I was imagining train travel with small cabins, but apparently the normal seating is more like an airliner or bus. The rooms cost $270 - $500 above the seat pricing for a DFW - El Paso trip. I'm not sure how the coach seat sizing compares with a plane or bus, but the photo makes them look big.
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Old 09-21-2008, 03:38 PM   #8
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EDIT 2: I was imagining train travel with small cabins, but apparently the normal seating is more like an airliner or bus. The rooms cost $270 - $500 above the seat pricing for a DFW - El Paso trip. I'm not sure how the coach seat sizing compares with a plane or bus, but the photo makes them look big.
The seating is quite a bit roomier than either airline or bus! The seats have leg rests that are similar to Lazy-Boy style, and the seats do recline as well. And if the person in front of you reclines their seat, your knees won't suffer the consequences! I used to travel from just southwest of Chicago, IL to Pasadena, CA (LA area) at least twice a year (round-trip) by Amtrak. I found the seating was quite comfortable, and I could easily nap and/or sleep kicked-back in those seats. I also had sleeper compartments a few times, which was a nice ride too. Plus the sleeper fare included 3 meals a day (per person) in the dining car, morning juice and/or coffee delivered to your room, and the morning newspaper.
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Old 09-21-2008, 04:29 PM   #9
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I would say drive and camp, depending on what gas prices are next spring. Airfare for two people will probably be a little more $$ than the gas would be. It might be worth it to rent a nice new (small) car if yours gets horrendous mileage or if you don't want to put the miles on it (we have rented a car to drive from Chicago to Texas to save the wear and tear on our car).

Taking the train has some of the same problems as flying--how to get to the station at each end. And the longer the train ride the likelier there will be long delays in the schedule, I believe.

Congrats to your DD--a senior this year?
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:58 PM   #10
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I say bite the bullet & fly . This is your only daughter . Put your thrifty side away & go for the gusto . This is one of the best moments in parenting . I still get chills thinking of my daughters graduations . The last one I stood in the rain in Mass . for three hours and it was worth it .
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Old 09-21-2008, 06:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
Tell her that you are so proud of her and would be thrilled to see her graduate and share her special moment, but then ask her if she would rather have you there, or if she would really rather have the $$$$$ that it would cost you for such a trip added to her graduation present.

You might be surprised.
No offense but I think most children would rather have their parents there beaming at them then any amount of money .
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Old 09-21-2008, 06:05 PM   #12
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No offense but I think most children would rather have their parents there beaming at them then any amount of money .
No offense taken! It's no skin off my nose, as they say. He can find out, if he wants, by making tactful inquiries of his daughter rather than by finding out what people on an internet forum who don't even know her (like you and me) think she would or wouldn't want.
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Old 09-21-2008, 06:14 PM   #13
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Could you rent an RV?

Flying is still your cheapest alternative but if you are up for an adventure anyway, that might be an option.
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Old 09-21-2008, 07:19 PM   #14
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I like the drive/camp combo. Someone suggested the KOA Kamp Kabins...that sounds interesting. I would plan it around a bit of a long trip, drive 5-6 hours a day and take the rest of the day to relax. It will probably take you 4-5 days or so to get there, but if you are camping or Kabin(ing) it, hiking, biking, and taking in some sights, it ought to be pretty enjoyable. I used to love flying, but I have done so much flying in the past ten years for work that I am tired of it, and hate the US security issues as well.

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Old 09-21-2008, 11:34 PM   #15
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.....I still get chills thinking of my daughters graduations . The last one I stood in the rain in Mass . for three hours and it was worth it .
Standing in the rain for that long, I can understand you getting the chills!
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:17 AM   #16
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If you can turn the trip into a nice vacation by driving or taking the train, do it. (Consider, time, money etc.) If you're just interested in transportation to and from St Louis for the purpose of attending DD's graduation, fly.
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Old 09-22-2008, 04:02 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I recently swore off plane travel due to security hassles, waits, cancellations, and cramped seating. But we want to go to DD's graduation in St. Louis in May. Alternatives:

1. Bite bullet and fly.

2. Drive (camp along the way -- show DW the country)

3. Rent car and drive. Is there some advantage to this?

4. Take train.

Thoughts?
With no location under your avatar i have no idea where this trip is starting from,this has to be one of the only forums where the majority of members have no listed location:confused:
If you have the time i'd take the car.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:01 PM   #18
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Thanks for the brainstorming.

Quote:
no location
Sorry -- we're in far northern California (near Oregon) and the trip would be about 2.2K miles each way.

Quote:
...if she would really rather have the $$$$$ that it would cost you for such a trip added to her graduation present.

You might be surprised.
Do you mean we'd be surprised that she'd rather have us there or that she's rather have the money?

But I definitely want to go, in part to show her that we are proud of her.

Strongly leaning towards driving. I've driven across the country and back twice (in the 60s), and it was memorable. However, camping was better back then (see my rant here).

Costs aren't that different. Rough estimate of costs:

Fly
Airfare, 1 week cheap hotel, 1 week cheap car rental: $1,700

Drive:
4400 miles at $.25/mile (gas, deprec) = $1,100
12 nights of camping @$15/night = $180
Meals on the road for 8 days: $200
Total: $1,480
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:06 PM   #19
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I checked out your "camping is dead" link. I don't know if you've stayed in any state parks in PA, but boy, do they ever enforce the rules there! Rangers walk around the sites at night, and if you are too loud, they come up and inspect your campsite. If they find alcohol, they require you to dump it ALL out on the spot, or leave. Don't ask me how I know...

Are you bold enough to try couchsurfing? (www.couchsurfing.com) From your prior posts, it seems you are pretty outgoing and social. Could be an interesting experience, and cheap!
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:24 PM   #20
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What about flying to the graduation and then renting a car and driving back ?
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