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  1. Default Traveling from NYC to Buffalo and back. Car, train, bus?

    Hello everyone,

    I'm glad I found this forum. Me and my family will be traveling from NYC to Buffalo this july to visit some friends (we are not from the USA, this trip is a part of another trip). We will spend 2-3 nights in Buffalo and will be traveling with children age 9 and 14. I am wondering which way of travel is the best, should we rent a car, take a train or a bus? I would like to fly but I think that is to expensive for us. I have done a little bit of train research and see that the train ride is about 8 hours. Would that be terrible? Would we be uncomfortable and hot on the train? Would it be ok to just book regular seats for this amount of time? Would it be better to take a bus? I'm also thinking about the cost. Our third option would be to rent or borrow a car. If we would do that, would you say this is a difficult route to drive for a person who is not used to driving in the US? Would you recommend that we stayed somewhere overnight? And also would you recommend any special places of interest? Thanks in advance :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    As we are road-trip folks here, you don't see us recommending buses and trains unless one is traveling in/around NYC or Washington DC, where those two forms of transportation are available and easier to use. Between NYC and Buffalo, though, I would think that a family of 4 would find a car very handy, and a better bargain for a family of 3 or 4. According to some of our folks here, getting used to driving on the other side of the road, or getting accustomed to US traffic, is pretty easy. I would not pick up the car until you are outside of NYC and done seeing NYC, as parking is extremely expensive in the City and difficult to find.

    I am assuming you are going to Niagara Falls. I'll let others comment on what else to see between the two cities. Only the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, and the Erie Canal, come to my mind at the moment.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A bit of each.

    Whereas our main focus is roadtripping, I know many like a train journey as well. I certainly do.

    Your main concern seems to be the comfort of the train. Let me assure you that all Amtrak train journeys I have taken have been in comfortable, air condition cars, with a dining and lounge car included. On the whole their seats are spacious, and most trains also have a viewing car (where I seem to spend a lot of time). I am sure the Amtrak site will give you more information on the train and the route.

    In Buffalo and going to the Falls, you will need a car, which could be rented in Buffalo. Lots of rental companies will come to the railway station. You could of course, also rent a car for the complete return journey, and visit the Finger Lakes area as well as driving some of the more scenic routes through upstate NY.

    Do a little research as to the cost of all options, and see which suits you best. I definitely would not worry about driving in the US for the first time. I know the thought of it is daunting, but it is amazing how quickly it becomes second nature. I always bring a flag from home to put in the rear window of the car, so that others know I am not a local. Hopefully they will forgive any little indiscretions.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default lots of options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There isn't really a single right answer, as any of the options you've mentioned could work.

    This being a roadtrip site, there are lots of advantages to renting a car and making the drive. You get to go at the pace you want to go, You could see a lot of potential things along the way, and depending upon what you find for rental rates, it could be the cheapest option. It would also give you a car available in Buffalo. The downside is you would have to do the "work" of driving yourself.

    Flying would be fastest, by far. However, 4 airline tickets could be a little expensive, plus you'd have to get out to one of the NYC airports and deal with the hassle of going through security, etc.

    Train could be a good option too. As Lifey mentioned, it should be very comfortable for you, it's easy to get onto a train from Manhattan, and the 8 hours you'll spend on board isn't that much more time than it would take to drive yourself. There should be no reason you'd need anything other than regular seats for a trip this short. The downside is that Amtrak often isn't that much less expensive than flying, although they do usually have child discounts, so that may help you save some money.

    Bus is not a bad option either, especially if you use an express service like Megabus. You can sit back and let others drive, and it will likely be the cheapest mass-transit options, and the total travel time won't be that much different than taking a train. The downside is that there is a lot less room on a bus than a train, so you and especially the kids can't move around nearly as much. You'd also have to make sure you are on an express bus, and not a bus scheduled to stop in every little town along the way, which could balloon your travel times.

  5. Default

    FWIW I can confirm what the experts have said about driving in the USA: outside of big cities it's very easy and nothing to worry about.

    If you do the journey by car, then you can use the interstates for speed, or other roads which are usually slower but more interesting. If you've never visited the USA before then seeing some of the smaller towns (if only by driving through them) would be an attractive option - if you've got the time to do it.

    There are at least two obvious interstate routes: via Binghamton or via Williamsport (or I suppose via Albany but that's a longer route). Sorry, I can't advise on the relative merits of those options but if necessary one of the experts here almost certainly can. In the meantime you might like to experiment with Google Maps to see those routes, but treat their time estimates with a big pinch of salt because they assume absolutely no stops and no delays and even then are a bit over-optimistic. Also, occasionally Google Maps comes up with a totally crazy route so give it a sanity check. If you wish you can zoom in to StreetView mode to view towns and the open road along the way. Apologies if any of that is obvious to you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Bus

    Be aware that some of the bus routes, though quite cheap, do charge for every piece of luggage. I am not sure if Megabus is one of these. But I am sure their website will give you all the details. If it were me, I would avoid Greyhound.

    On Amtrak the luggage allowance is almost the same as on international flights.

    Lifey

    Edit: BTW, if you decide to rent a car, rent it after leaving NYC. I have heard on more than one occasion that renting in Newark NJ is cheaper than NY. There's a frequent commuter train to Newark.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    On Amtrak the luggage allowance is almost the same as on international flights.
    That's not always true. Several Amtrak routes do not allow any checked baggage. For example, there are checked bags allowed on the Lake Shore Limited route that runs from NYC to Buffalo (and onto Chicago), but the Empire Builder and Maple Leaf trains do not do checked luggage.

    Megabus and Greyhound both allow one checked bag and one small carry-on included in the ticket price.

  8. Default

    Thanks everyone for your replies:) You have been such a big help, now I have all this great advice to ponder and continue with planning our trip:)

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