From Iowa to New York…on a Budget!

Here in the US, traveling from one state to another is cheaper when you are driving your own car. Of course, other options would be riding the train or bus, renting a car or taking the plane. But in a small city like Ames, Iowa which is part of the Midwest, there is no train, the bus has few trips in a day and you have to go to a bigger city such as in Des Moines to ride on a plane to Chicago or any other place. Since we do not have a car and even a license, we are left with taking the bus and plane route.

Normally, round trip flight from Des Moines, Iowa to New York City will cost $350 when you book one month in advance. This trip usually have a stop in Chicago or Minneapolis. This price may be reasonable for anyone, but not for us. One of my friends lives in New Jersey and we have to meet her before she would go back to Philippines. She advised me that Frontier Airlines offers cheap flights from Chicago to New Jersey. Since Frontier has no direct flight from Chicago to New York, we then took the Frontier-Chicago route. So here is the detailed breakdown:

  • Jefferson Lines round trip bus, Ames to Des Moines – $18
  • Burlington Trailways bus, Des Moines to Chicago – $26
  • Train round trip, Chicago bus station to ORD – $4.50
  • Frontier Airlines round trip plane, Chicago to Trenton, New Jersey – $96.40
  • Mega bus, Chicago to Des Moines – $17
  • Uber round trip (2 rides), Trenton Airport to Trenton Train Station (per pax, 2 pax per ride) – $9.75
  • NJ Transit round trip, Trenton to Penn Station, New York – $33.50
  • TOTAL = $205.15

If we would go by plane from Des Moines to New York, we would still need a bus ride from Ames to Des Moines bus terminal, an uber ride from bus terminal to Des Moines airport and another uber ride from any airport in NYC to Manhattan.

With that comparison, we were able to save around $200 each person, or $400 in total for the two of us. So if you have the time, you do not mind to have longer travels on the road and you are traveling on a budget, this plan may work for you.

Please check my next post for our two-day budget trip in New York City – where to stay, how to enjoy NYC for free and how to make the most of your two days in NYC.


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