Travel In & Out of County

Things to know

  • Gadabout services are limited to Tompkins County.
  • Ithaca Carshare cars can be driven anywhere you want to go, including outside Tompkins County.
  • Vanpooling may be worth exploring if you make the same trip into or out of the county most days.
  • Regional buses include many bus routes that cross county lines.
  • Airport limos and shuttles are options for getting to and from the local or nearby airports.

You may also want to check out even more ways to get around.

Long distance travel

Planning a longer trip often means traveling by bus, train, plane or car. As you consider your options, you may want to keep in mind:

When comparing your different transportation options, be sure to consider your total time investment. A "three-hour flight," for example, may actually take twice that amount of time when you add up:

  • Getting to or from the airport and parking, if needed
  • Pre-flight check-in, security and waiting
  • Exiting the plane and claiming baggage
  • Unexpected delays or lost luggage
  • Likewise, consider any extra time involved in bus or train travel, and time spent on car preparations if driving


  • Consider your personal stress level and comfort when traveling by plane, train, bus or car.
  • Compare how well you can use your travel time by plane, train, bus or car for working, sleeping or other activities.

For example, say your travel time by train is 12 hours, but you sleep for eight and work three more in a comfortable sleeper-car. You may feel it's a better use of your time than a "three hour flight" that takes five and a half total travel hours that are usable for little else.

Although flying can be speedy at times, it's the hardest on the environment, with the possible exception of driving alone in a gas guzzling car or truck. Journalist Matt McDermott looked at carbon costs for long distance travel using numbers from; here is what he found:

  • The bus generally beats car, plan and train for long distances, unless you pack four people into a very high-efficiency car such as a hybrid.
  • A full car, with four or five passengers and at least average gas mileage, produces fewer emissions per person, i.e. is "greener," than traveling by train. (Most trains produce about twice the emissions of bus for long distance travel, whereas they beat out city buses for urban, short-distance trips.)
  • A train is still much better than flying, and is better than driving alone.
  • Driving alone is "greener" than flying, but not by much.
  • Flying has the greatest negative impact on climate change, with shorter flights doing even more damage than longer ones. If you do fly, you can lower your carbon emissions by choosing a "greener" airline, a direct flight, and carbon off-sets. Check out the upcoming Finger Lakes Climate Fund.

When comparing total transportation costs, don't forget to consider:

  • Costs (and quality) of food
  • Costs of lodging vs. overnight flying, bus or train travel
  • Cost of car maintenance and supplies, fuel, and vehicle wear and tear

You may be able to find someone already driving to your destination, or find extra riders to share costs and driving. Word of mouth, local networks, rideboards or internet sites are all ways to find rides and riders. Sharing a trip can also lower your costs if train or bus companies offer 2-for-1 fares or a group discount.

What's your story?

How do you decide which way to travel long distance? Have you tried an alternative to driving alone or flying? If you're willing to share your own experience, please talk to us!


Last Updated: July 24, 2012

Last updated: July 24th 2012 - 2:09pm