Plane or Coach
Making the right decision
Especially in more developed countries internal air travel has become very affordable due to numerous competing budget airlines. It can be advantageous to jump on board with this fast growing trend to avoid long and tiring coach journeys, but of course this can have its drawbacks. There are some circumstances when a coach can actually be the better choice even if the prices are more or less equal.Deciding Plane Or Coach
Distance - Firstly you must think about the distance you need to travel. If for instance you are going from the east to west coast of the states then a bus would take the best part of a week, be very uncomfortable, and still quite pricey. There may be a lot of changes and you would have to keep yourself fed and clean.
Price - Long coach journeys can be quite pricey even if this mode of transport is very economical over short to mid distance. Frequently you can get a cheap flight for equal or less than the price of a coach. If a journey is not too long and seems manageable by coach then do it.
Scenery - If the journey you need to take promises good scenery then this can make travelling a lot less laborious. You can see a lot more out of a coach window than you can from a plane and this is what allows you to really see a country.
Time - Think about how much time you have left. If there are things you want to see or do on the other side of the country then sometimes it is worth forgetting the cheap but lengthy coach trips and start considering an internal flight. For the extra cash its worth fitting that activity or sight in as you never know when you will be in the same area again.
Terminals - If a flight is looking to be the easiest, quickest and cheapest option you should also consider the other aspects of air travel. Frequently the airport is on the outskirts of town and only accessible by a long bus journey, an expensive taxi ride or a tube if you are lucky. Transfers to and from airports are often Hidden Costs which are overlooked when they can increase the price tag and travel time. In contrast, bus terminals are central in towns and cities and more often than not walkable.
Coaches And Buses
The most flexible and extensive bus company in the USA and Australia is the Greyhound service. They are cover all areas of both countries and are worth booking ahead especially in peak seasons. The Greyhound service offers a cheap, efficient and reliable service.
The buses run 24 hours a day and so can double up as accommodation for the night on a long journey, saving you money and giving you more travel options. Travelling by Greyhound for extensive periods of time is not comfortable despite the buses being clean, air conditioned and generally of a good standard (equipped with toilet). The buses stop at meal time intervals and to pick up other travellers at set locations so there is a chance to stretch yours legs.
Tickets can be purchased between set locations and are priced according to class and distance. Discounted rates are available for youths and students. There is an option of a Discovery Pass in the USA giving unlimited travel within a set period of time (7, 15, 30, and 60 days) and stopovers you can be as flexible as you wish.
USA Greyhound terminals are normally in city or town centers and are typically equipped with restrooms and places to buy food. Australian terminals are conveniently in town also but may just be a bus stop and not a well equipped terminal. It is best to be at the terminal 30 minutes before travelling as seats are allocated on a first come first served basis. Have identification and tickets ready to show the driver upon boarding.
Many bus operators in Europe are country specific and do not cross over the borders. However, Eurolines is an exception offering travel between many of Europe's major European cities by grouping independent coach companies together. The Euroline pass can be purchased for 15 or 30 days of travel with unlimited stopovers. The passes are priced according to season peaks and troughs and include all road tolls, taxes and sea crossings.
As you would expect all coaches come equipped with onboard toilet facilities and reclining seats. There are regular break at services for refreshments and to stretch the legs. Discounts are available for under 26 year olds.
The Magic Bus offers a hop on hop off style bus service to many locations on the North and South islands of New Zealand. The passes themselves come in many different variations depending on what you want to see or do. Choose from routes covering each island separately or opt to explore both islands if you have the time.
All passes are valid for 12 months and include discounts to YHA hostels which are abundant across New Zealand. In most cases there is a bus leaving from each location everyday so you can depart when you want to.
The drivers are an excellent source for local knowledge and will stop the coach at points of interest and are available to book your accommodation and activities on board the coach as you travel.
An alternative to the Magic Bus is the Kiwi Experience coach company providing a travel means for both the North and South Islands. This company operates similarly to the Magic Bus in that they can arrange accommodation and activities for you in advance. The atmosphere on this tour seems to be much livelier and takes bookings for larger parties although single travellers are of course welcome. For pairs or single travellers desiring a mellower journey and a chance to see perhaps some of the hidden beauty and attractions in New Zealand, the Magic bus is probably better.
Both tour companies provide equally good routes and a great environment for making friends on the road. You need to decide on how you want to see New Zealand and then choose a suitable pass from one of these companies.
Australia Airlines With many domestic destinations in this vast country and also connecting Australia to Asia. Book hotels and car rentals too. Not necessarily a budget option.
Jetstar Airways Domestic flights and connecting to Asia. Some good deals to be found.
Virgin Blue Nationwide coverage of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific. A no thrills cheap, budget airline.
Delta Offering low cost domestic and international flights to many destinations. Also has a reward scheme for frequent fliers.
JetBlue A good budjet airline for getting you from A to B. Desinations are more plentiful on the East coast.
Americn Airlines A pricier option with a couple more perks on board. Flies to international as well as domestic locations.
Southwest Another domestic only budget airline boasting no extra cost for a 2nd bag.
EasyJet A no thrills airline operating from many European cities. Promises a safe, affordable, and quick route to many European hotspots.
RyanAir Offering competition on low fares to EasyJet. Guaranteed low price but again you do not get much more than your seat.
Sky Europe Offers frequent good deals on cheap flights to many destinations. Check out their online map for flight routes.
There are not many budget airlines covering the whole of Asia; Air Asia seems to be an exception. There are operators that do internal flights and fly out of individual countries but do not necessarily expect to be able to use the same airline again from another country.
LAN Chile A Chilean airline with branches in Ecudor, Peru, and Argentina. It is the biggest airline in South America and has the most routes domestically and internationally. This however is not a budget airline.
Gol Airlines An up and coming airline based in Brazil. Iffers filights within Brazil and routes to Argentina, Chile and Peru all of which are big backpacking areas.
Sky Airlines Offers many of the same routes as LAN Chile but at a fraction of the cost.