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Bus or airplane - are you sure you know which is best for your next trip?

There may be little doubt in your mind that for your next cross-country trip you should hop on an airplane and be at your destination in just a few hours. But, what about a shorter trip of just a few hundred miles?

Comfortable travel - legroom and free WiFi

Suppose you lived in Los Angeles and wanted to visit Las Vegas but didn't want to drive. Consider what it costs in terms of time and money to make this little jaunt. The airlines are now telling you they want you at the terminal two hours ahead of your flight time. Chances are you have cut that down to an hour and are running the whole time you're in the airport - maybe you should have given yourself at least an hour and a half. Of course, you had to drive or take a taxi or get a friend to drop you off at the airport. That leaves you with taxi fare, a hefty parking fee or, at best, a couple of hours of your friends time. Did you offer to pay for his gas to get your there?

This is kind of a spur of the moment trip and you want to go right away and you're not sure how long you want to stay. A quick perusal of plane schedules brings up a price of only $110 on Spirit or $196 on one of the "legacy" airlines for a one way ticket. You'll need to decide how badly you need those frequent flier miles. Anyway, the flight is only about an hour and ten minutes so that gets you there pretty quickly.

If you're heading for the Strip or the Fremont Experience you'll need to get into downtown from the airport - that's another few bucks and whatever time it takes you to find the taxi stand or wait for the shuttle.

Of course, you already know what a hassle it is to go through security and the time that takes. Also, you are aware that you can't take a lot of things on board the plane so you might need to check your bags meaning a bit of a wait once you leave your flight.

All in all can we safely say that this quick flight to Las Vegas on a cramped plane with no leg room and likely a center seat since you didn't get your ticket a week in advance (although you could have paid even more to get a "premium" economy seat) will take you at least about 4 hours and probably between $125 and $150 to get you to your destination?

Let's look at an alternative. There are 5 Greyhound Express buses from L.A. to Sin City departing at different times of the day. The travel time is about 5 hours or slightly longer depending on your departure time. You can buy your ticket on line. As a matter of fact you should buy it online because the price is lower. And, if you buy it the day before it is even lower. How much? I'll tell you that after we look at some of the reasons for taking the bus.

First of all, the bus station may be much easier to access than the airport. If you have to park you will be able to find a nearby lot for much less than airport parking. But the real benefit may be the bus itself. I recently took a part of this trip on a new Greyhound and it was great. I did an overnight trip and had lots of leg room and plenty of space to stretch out. I was able to sleep pretty comfortably, but had I not wanted to sleep the whole trip I could have spent the time on a computer, notebook or tablet at no cost - that's right, FREE WiFi! There was even an electrical outlet at my seat so no need to run down any batteries. While they didn't have a USB charger if you have a laptop you can just plug that into the outlet and then plug your USB devices into it.

So, back to the cost. An advance ticket (purchase a day before) would set you back a whopping $14. If you don't buy in time to get the advance price your ticket price will skyrocket to an outrageous $15. Of course, the Las Vegas bus depot is about a block and a half from the Fremont Experience and just a short taxi ride from many hotels on the Strip.

You won't have to be searched or patted down like a common criminal and you can arrive at your destination rested and ready for the Vegas action. Put the $100 you saved on red or black in the nearest casino and maybe you'll double your money! Good luck and . . . Keep on Traveling!

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