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Cool Travel Tool: Rome2Rio.com
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Cool Travel Tool: Rome2Rio.com

by jeffreyJuly 30, 2014

I stumbled across a cool website the other day:  Rome2Rio.com.

Rome2Rio is basically a multimodal transport search engine. It answers that nagging question: “what is the best way to get from point A to B?” But the “best way” is still left for you to decide, taking into account travel time vs cost.

The great thing about the site is that it gives you door-to-door approximations including estimated fuel cost for driving and fares for buses, planes, taxi, trains, ferries, etc…

Use it to explore all travel options with total times and prices

So, here’s an example of how it’s useful:  I’ll do a search for a one-way trip from my house in Charleston to The Westin Grand Central in New York.

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The search returns a very clean, map-centric interface:

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The search initially uses non-date specific data and provides an average estimated fare for that type of transit and ranks them in order of total time. Our Charleston-New York search returns this list:

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Just as I assumed, the quickest way is to fly direct Charleston-CHS to LaGuardia-LGA, John F Kennedy-JFK or Newark-EWR, but the typical flight is around 2 hours flying time, so why is Rome2Rio quoting 5.5 hours? They take into account “transfers” and this trip, although only a direct, 1-segment flight, has 4 segments when you include the transit to/from the airports. I would image a big chunk of the estimated 2 hr 18 mins for transfers is the “transfer” from a car in Charleston to the flight for security screening, boarding etc..

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During my search, I was also reminded of another reasonable way to get from Charleston to New York: fly out via Myrtle Beach-MYR. Spirit Airlines, the ultra-low-cost-carrier that we all love to hate, has a non-stop from MYR to LaGuardia-LGA and the fares are often much better than Charleston-CHS fares. How much better? Typically a few hundred less on a roundtrip fare.

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In this generic test booking, driving from Charleston to Myrtle Beach would cost appx $13 in gas but save over $70 in airfare. You can decide if the extra hassle and 1 hrs 15 mins is worth it to you.

They even throw in a (very rough) estimate for driving:

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Here’s an example of the driving cost estimator: $13 would cover the full cost of gas only assuming around 25 mpg. What it doesn’t include is the airport parking that I would now be stuck paying by driving to Myrtle Beach.

I could also take a bus (who knew that was an option?!):

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Or the Amtrak train:

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Or just suck it up and make the painful drive:

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Again, the $110 covers gas only assuming appx 25 mpg and $3.50 per gallon

Once you start typing in actual dates, the alternative transportation methods might start sounding more attractive:

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My round-trip travel options based upon specific dates

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Use it to get a rough estimate of long, multi-stop trips

At the top of the search, you can click a “+” sign and start adding destinations to your multi-city itinerary. It won’t be perfect (the buses and trains don’t link to outside agencies to provide actual prices, but instead give you an “estimate”)

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The best part of Rome2Rio

Although not perfect, Rome2Rio serves as an excellent tool to get you thinking about all of your travel options from Point A –> Point B. I know that I’ll use it in the future to consider all of my options; just by testing it out, I learned that there was bus service from Charleston to New York that I had never heard of before:

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Features that need work/things to watch out for

  • For driving, the cost only includes the price of gas and appears to assume fuel efficiency at around 25 MPG. They say that driving 772 miles would cost me $110. Is this realistic? No, far from it. My car is less efficient than their sample and this doesn’t account for wear and tear on the vehicle.Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 7.21.23 PM
    They do have a field that makes it easy to suggest an improvement:Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 7.23.50 PM
    Does this make the site unusable or the estimates useless? No, far from it. This is still a great function that helps to put multiple modes of transportation on a level playing field when comparing price.

  • Some quotes include expensive taxi fares when driving might be much more economical. For example, in my Charleston to New York example, it quotes me $160 to take the train.
    Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.20.28 AMThis includes $30 to take a taxi from my house to the train station, but, because parking is free at the Amtrak station, I would drive there…which would cost me much less.
  • Only the airfares are priced dynamically. This means that, when you enter specific dates, only the airfare options go out to another site to pull live data. In the Amtrak example above, Rome2Rio.com quotes me $130 for the ride. The actual price? Either $120 or $157 depending on my departure time. Again, is it usable? Yes. Is it perfectly accurate? No, but it serves the purpose of providing a rough estimate.

BOTTOM LINE: Rome2Rio.com is a highly useful website that, at the bare minimum, helps you learn about other methods and modes of transit to get from A –> B cheaply and efficiently. Hop on, give it a try and you might just learn something new!

About The Author
jeffrey
jeffrey