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Greyhound in a pinch: It's cheaper and it gets you there
This past Sunday I put my mother on a Greyhound bus. She agreed to get on. I didn't make her. This was a last minute trip. Last minute on an airplane would have cost $600 plus for round trip between Columbus, Ohio and New York City. Greyhound was $208, tax included. Planning ahead would have made this cheaper than that, but this was last minute.
After considering the price of airfare, the hassle of going through airport procedure nonsense, the chance that a flight would be delayed or canceled, and the added cost of getting from the airport into Manhattan made a plane ticket seem totally not worth it. Without a direct flight available, the trip could have taken several hours anyway.
Driving was nixed because she would be driving by herself which would require many stops and possibly a hotel stay somewhere. At the time we found out she needed to go, it was late afternoon. Plus, there is paying for parking in New York City and the cost of gas. So, Greyhound, in its convenience and thrift, won out.
Here are the pros and cons of the decision to hop on Greyhound in retrospect.
Putting her on the bus was easy. She had bought her ticket the day before thinking that she needed to go on Saturday, but it seemed like she didn't need to go after all after she paid for the ticket. Since the ticket is good for a year, she held onto it.
Once we found out she did need to go, she was packed and at the bus station two hours later ready to take the 7:00 p.m. bus. Although, her ticket was for the day before, she didn't need to change her ticket or pay an extra fee. She didn't need to pay for baggage either. She had a carry-on size, a purse and another small bag. All went on the bus with her. If she had checked her bag there would have been no charge.
There was no stress. I got her to the bus station at 6:20 PM in a quick 15 minute drive from where she lives. There was parking right out front, and since it was Sunday, the meter is free.
There was not a TSA experience to deal with or a long trek to a gate. She could keep her shoes on. She had a full water bottle and regular sized tooth paste. She didn't have a snow globe, but no one would have stopped her if she had.
The bus goes right to Port Authority Bus Station near Times Square so there's not an extra cost or hassle getting into Manhattan. From Port Authority there are plenty of ways to get to where you need to go. She took a cab.
Sleeping on the bus was not easy or restful. My mom said it made five stops and each time, they had to get off.
Although she doesn't need a car in Manhattan, if she goes to upstate New York like she is planning to, she'll need a car once she's there. Plus, there's the bus trip back.
Solutions to the Cons
She's planning on taking the bus back during the day since not being able to sleep at night is something she doesn't care to repeat.
I may drive her car to New York the beginning of next week and use her bus ticket to come back if that's possible. If not, I'll get my own one-way bus ticket. I was planning on going to New York later this summer, but I could go now. That way, she has her car and I can take the things she was planning to take if she drove. Otherwise, she's driving to New York again later on.
She rents a car after she takes a bus to Kingston, takes the Greyhound back here, and then she and I can drive to New York in August when I was planning to go any way. Hmmmm. Now, that's an idea.
The reason why it is still good my mom didn't take the plane.
Her return bus ticket is for June 4. She can't come back June 4 so she would have needed to change her ticket. The bus ticket change costs $15. The plane ticket change would have been at least $100, and probably more as Grant has pointed out.