Over the summer, I wrote the first part of this post, where I talked about getting around Baltimore. I also said “next time” I would talk about travel outside of Baltimore, which didn’t really happen. Other fun, travel-related blogs like SOS – where I went to DC and SAW JONATHAN KOZOL and Meet Me in St. Louis – where I talk about my first invitational this season in St. Louis, but I never actually addressed how to get anywhere/how easy it is. So, here’s the follow up, just a few months later.
Option #1: The Bus
It’s easily the cheapest (and often most convenient). My personal favorite, Bolt Bus, is based out of New York City, and runs buses every hour to NYC (and now to Newark). Once you’re in NYC, you can get to Boston. A one-way ticket is usually around $15, although I’ve managed to get the coveted $1 ticket once! It also has extra legroom (!!!) and wifi and electricity (which can either mean productivity or Boston Legal marathons) on board, all included in the ticket price. Megabus is also popular (although their stop is much more inconvenient to reach), and Greyhound is also an option (interestingly, Greyhound owns Bolt, but is more expensive and has many fewer services on board).
Option #2: The Train
The train station is very convenient to Hopkins – it’s on the JHMI shuttle route, the local bus route, and a cab only costs around $6. Two train services stop here: Amtrak and MARC. MARC is the regional commuter rail, which goes to DC (one-way=$7). Sadly, it only runs Monday through Friday, but it’s a great option if you’re going to DC during the week. Amtrak goes all over the country, but it’s mostly used by Hopkins students in the Northeast corridor.
Option #3: The Plane
BWI is the local(ish) airport for Hopkins. The B and W in BWI stand for Baltimore and Washington, respectively, and the airport is actually between the two cities (although closer to Baltimore than Washington). Still, it’s a pretty large airport (although most people tend to go to Washington Dulles for big international flights). For getting to the airport, cabs usually cost around $40, the SuperShuttle costs around $23 (plus tip), or you can take the JHMI to Penn Station, and then take 1) the light rail for $1.60, 2) the MARC train on weekdays for $4, or 3) Amtrak for $12-$25. If you’re going to Boston, there are tons of flights a day, and it’s generally pretty easy to get anywhere.
Once you’ve spent some time in the area it’s much easier to try and connect together different pieces of transportation (as well as experimenting with other cities’ transportation systems).
Exhibit A: Spring Break 2011
Goal: Visiting family in Charlottesville, VA and my friend who goes to school in Boston. Under $200 total cost.
Travel Day 1 (Friday): JHMI to Penn Station, MARC train to DC, Greyhound to Charlottesville, VA, taxi.
Travel Day 2 (Wednesday): Ride to Greyhound Station, Greyhound to Washington Union Station (involving putting my arguing skills to the test when Greyhound decided my stop wasn’t a real stop anymore), MARC to Baltimore, JHMI to Hopkins.
Travel Day 3 (Thursday): JHMI to Penn Station, Bolt Bus to NYC, Bolt Bus to Boston, Metro x2, Commuter Rail
Travel Day 4 (Sunday): Commuter Rail, Metro x2, Bolt Bus to NYC (which included a lovely 3 hour layover in the Penn Station Borders), Bolt Bus to Baltimore, taxi back to Hopkins.
Total legs of transportation: 20. Total cost: Under $200 (I actually do have a super precise number for this, but it’s currently on a piece of paper that’s MIA) for the whole adventure (tickets for which were all bought within two weeks of leaving).
Final reflection: It was exciting to realize how proficient I’d gotten at figuring out trips/public transport in other cities. This trip was very travel-based (about 24 hours total travel time), but that ended up being fine, both for doing work/pretending to do work/a mini Boston Legal marathon/just looking out the window. Yes, flying would have undoubtedly have been faster for getting to Boston. But I’ve also gotten to see more of the country (even if it’s just through the window of a bus traveling on I-95), and I’ve proved to myself that I can navigate myself around the mid-Atlantic and Northeast successfully. And getting there really was half the adventure!
So in conclusion…
Hopkins is awesome. Baltimore is fun to explore. But it’s also a ton of fun to go other places. Whether that’s through a traveling student group, a sponsored trip, or just deciding to visit somewhere new, definitely go for it!