Holiday Travel: Planes, Trains but Forget the Automobiles

by Phil Kehres*
Special to iVoryTowerz

Despite the commonly held notions of holiday travel, it doesn’t always have to be nerve-wracking and atrocious. Cutting out the car will do you a lot of good.

This past week, I had my first experience traveling from the Washington, D.C. metro area to my home in Cleveland during a holiday without a car. I flew direct from Baltimore-Washington Marshall International Airport (BWI) to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. By the end of the day, I had taken five different forms of transit. None of them was a car. All of them were smooth and efficient, and cheaper than almost any option involving a car. I’m not sure why the park-and-pay-through-the-nose method continues to be so popular.

My flight left at 8:05 p.m., so I left my job in Arlington, VA at about 4:15 p.m. and hopped on the DC Metro subway to Union Station ($1.35). There, I caught the MARC, the Maryland commuter train, to BWI station ($6.00), where a free shuttle took me straight to the airport. I flew to Cleveland, and from the airport, I took the Rapid Transit ($2.00 — also interesting is that Cleveland was actually the first U.S. city to have a direct transit link to its airport) to a station within one block on my friend’s apartment.

All told, it took about as long as driving to Cleveland would have taken (though that is mostly because I got to the airport much earlier than I needed to), but aside from dealing with crowds for five minutes at Union Station, it was an infinitely less stressful experience.

Using mass transit on either end of a flight has myriad benefits. It’s more efficient and reliable than driving — you don’t have to worry about accidents, other idiots on the road or the labyrinth that airport parking lots have become. It’s cheaper — no paying for parking or gas. It’s also more relaxing. You can catch up on a good bit of reading and lose yourself in some good music rather than focusing on the road. Perhaps most importantly, it’s environmentally friendly. Flying kills the environment, so why kill it more by driving on both ends of your trip?

What really saddens me is that most people still don’t get it. I was one of eight people that hopped on the Rapid when I got to Cleveland. Most of the other 200 people on my flight headed straight to the parking garage, taxis or their pre-arranged pickup. People, listen up: your complaints about holiday travel will ring hollow with me as long as you continue to choose the least efficient mode of transportation. Do yourself a favor and give up control for once. Stop worrying and learn to love mass transit. Trust me; it’ll be better for the both of us, because I won’t have to hear so much of your trite whining.

*Phil Kehres is one of the authors of Excuse Me, Is That Your Blog?

(To read another view on holiday travel, please see "A Letter to U.S. Airways: Flying the Corporate Skies.")

(The photo of the DC Metro is by ChrisDag via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license. The photographer employed a fish-eye lens to produce the rounded effect.)

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