There are three types of travelers in the United States: those who love traveling, those who can’t afford to travel, and those who are afraid to fly. Our goal here is to achieve stress-free travel for everyone.

Some people – you know someone in your life like this – do not like going on airplanes. It’s completely understandable and for those individuals, it can become increasingly frustrating if they have a desire to travel.

The individual who can’t afford to travel faces the fear of missing out (or FOMO, as the kids say). Money is tight and when this individual is looking into a potential trip, the costs involved become overwhelming.

Finally, there’s the individual who loves to travel but stresses over flight delays. These types of people can be those who deal with commuting to and from work daily and the last thing they want to do is fly five hours to their destination when it should only be three hours. Additionally, crowded flights for long periods can be undesirable.

So how do we achieve stress-free travel?

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”

Fred “Mister” Rogers


Travel To Where A Friend Or Family Lives

In my experience, I’ve been able to afford trips to Washington DC, Georgia, and California all due to having a friend or family member who lives in that state. Hopefully, you have the opportunity to do the same especially if it’s someone you’re close with. You will save a good chunk of money if they offer to let you stay with them.

Now, I’m not recommending you invite yourself to someone’s house. However, if you’re close to them, I recommend talking to this person(s) in advance. 

For example, I’ve gone down to Georgia to visit my buddy from college and he was very gracious to invite me to stay at his place. I went with him and his now-wife to the World of Coke museum. It was educational learning about the various Coke products created throughout the years. From watching ads from years past, tasting all of the varieties of products, and learning the history of the company. I still wonder who has the secret Coca-Cola recipe.

It will make your trip an enjoyable one when you share it with your friends and family. It’s a bonus to have someone who can show you around. No need to spend money on professional tour guides or take a cab/bus from place to place. Now you can spend less time worrying about money and more time enjoying yourself. Also, it’s a nice gesture to offer to take your friend or family member out to dinner as a thank-you for their hospitality.

Choosing A Cost-Efficient Means Of Transportation

Notice I said “efficient” and not “effective”. I believe there’s a difference here because while something may be effective, it may not be efficient. Efficiency relates to time. We’re trying to save you time so you can enjoy your trip. 

There are many options you have that aren’t flying when it comes to getting to where you want to go. These alternative options will be helpful for the individual who’s afraid to fly as well.

So what’s the best option to choose when not flying and still have a stress-free travel experience?

The Manual, Do-It-Yourself Option For Stress-Free Travel

Your Car/Car Rental/Ride Share: I know people like my dad like to rent a car to save miles on their car. However, this isn’t always in everyone’s budget. You can opt to use your car if you don’t mind driving a few hours to your destination. Regardless of which option you choose here, you’re already saving yourself money in terms of where you’re heading. If you’re taking your car, you most likely are going to be wary of putting too many miles on it (to avoid unexpected maintenance costs). When it comes to a rental car, you’re going to be wary of how long you have the car to avoid additional fees.

Overall, I think it’s best to save your money and use your car when traveling 3 hours away (up to four hours max) and only spend on a rental car when flying out-of-state where it’s necessary. This will help make your money go the furthest for your trip. It’s also an elongated process to get a rental car. From booking it and then having to pick it up – it cuts into the efficiency goal we mentioned earlier.

Opting For The Rideshare Route

If you’re against either of these options, there’s always the Uber or Lyft route – ride-sharing services. I’ve used Lyft in Las Vegas and Uber another time in Seattle. What’s great about these two options is you’re completely hands-off. Just tap on your phone and someone will come to pick you up. It’s the best stress-free travel option I think.

Most of the time, rides have been affordable. They tend to send out coupons from time to time too. If you’ve never used either, here’s my coupon code for your first Uber ride: 75po5. This will get you your first ride free. Lyft also offers a “free credit ride” for first-time users. Use the code FRANK068658. I like Lyft the best. They offer coupon deals more often to existing users.

The Cheapest Option And Also The Slowest Option

Bus: This option in some cases is the “cheapest” – which is relative depending on where you live. For example, back when I was in college, I would take the Chinatown bus from New York to State College, PA. While a lot cheaper than flying into State College, it comes with a loss of time due to pick-ups, traffic, and unexpected mishaps (like a bus breaking down – which happened once to me). This is part of the “get what you pay for” mantra. I don’t think this is the most efficient option at your disposal, but it would be worth it for those looking for the potentially cheapest option.

The Quickest And Best Bang For Your Buck Option For Stress-Free Travel

Train: I’ve always liked this option because fairs are affordable (cheaper than flying) and more efficient than taking a bus. If you go with this option, you can put yourself in a position to get to places faster. Certain departures may have fewer stops than other departure times. I have used this technique when traveling into Manhattan from Long Island and vice versa.

It’s great getting to travel somewhere and only having two stops where the same line at an alternative time will make all the standard scheduled stops. I believe the speed of a train is ideal for many people because you’re not dealing with traffic lights or potential bad drivers.

Strict Time Frames From Point A To Point B

You should always know how many days you want to travel and plan out the details accordingly. From not knowing how much money your trip will cost to not knowing your best way to get there, this can cause you to spin your wheels and increase stress. You need to pinpoint these things early on to give you clarity and peace of mind.

My recommendation is that you choose a destination no further than 3 hours away (four hours at the maximum) from where you live. This is relevant if you don’t travel often. If commuting is new for you, start with this timeframe. Once you go beyond 3-4 hours of travel, you’re entering the “travel exhaustion” mode as I like to call it. Let’s face it, traveling can be exhausting. You don’t want to find yourself too tired to enjoy yourself due to an 8-hour commute.

Some of the trips that I’ve done that fall into the 3 to 4-hour time frame were Connecticut, New Jersey, and Virginia. This timeframe is based on my trips from Long Island, NY. If you’re going to exceed this recommended timeframe, that’s when flying is the better alternative for stress-free travel.

Your Next Course Of Action To Achieve Stress-Free Travel

Do you have a better understanding of the best transportation option for you? Hopefully, I have helped alleviate any stresses you may have about traveling, especially if you fall under one of the three types of travelers I mentioned earlier. You now have a blueprint to use regardless of where you fall on that list and can now determine the best way for you to travel.

The best way to know if you’ve made the right choice… put your stress-free travel plan into action.

Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Find a state you would like to visit that’s at least 3 hours away.
  2. Determine what type of traveler you are (from above) and decide which method of transportation you’re going to choose.
  3. Even after you have chosen your transportation option, do a comparison of the costs: car vs train vs bus vs car.
  4. Can you pick a state where you have a friend or family member that you’re close to?

If you have any questions about any of the action items or need some further assistance to remove the stress from your travel plans, please leave your response in the comments and I’ll be glad to help.

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