buses http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7420/all en-US Border Crossings by Bus: How to See More of the World for Less http://www.wisebread.com/border-crossings-by-bus-how-to-see-more-of-the-world-for-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/border-crossings-by-bus-how-to-see-more-of-the-world-for-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009008402XSmall.jpg" alt="Travel destinations" title="Travel destinations" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The travel scene is one of interest and intrigue. You meet new people, see new sights, and hopefully broaden your horizons in ways unimagined. It&rsquo;s all good&hellip;except for the logistics of moving from spot to spot. Border crossings, visa issues, and transportation options can weave into a tangle of indecipherable information in your head. Yet, in places like Europe, where all of the countries lie so close together, it&rsquo;s so easy to hop from spot to spot. Likewise in Central America, with the added benefit of low prices. A little over $20 will get you a cross-country bus ticket from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. Another $50 will get you from there to Guatemala. That&rsquo;s not even the price of a having a piece of luggage on some domestic airlines. So why not hitch a ride on the bus or train and see more of the local sights?</p> <p>Besides, I&rsquo;m a big fan of just hopping on a bus and ending up somewhere. Sure, you could plan ahead, but that flies in the face of the whole carpe diem lifestyle when you&rsquo;re on the road. The first thing to do, then, is to seek out other travelers from your home country and ask them lots of questions. They may know where to get a visa, what the visa regulations are, how to manage longer stays in some countries. They can even tell you spots to avoid or what to do on tricky border crossings.</p> <p>Sometimes guidebooks can offer assistance, but other times they provide information that&rsquo;s not quite so practical. For instance, one travel book suggested traveling from Costa Rica to Nicaragua on local buses. The idea is to save money doing it. So you buy a ticket on a local Costa Rican bus to the Nicaraguan border, go through immigrations without having to wait hours for other travelers on your bus to finish, and you walk across the border to the other side, where you again go through immigrations and then catch a local Nicaraguan bus to wherever you plan to go.</p> <p>Sounds easy enough. If you speak the language fluently, if you know what the costs of exiting and entering the different countries are, and if you know how to spot an official police or immigration uniform, you'll do fine. If not, you may have problems. Stories abound of travelers trying to find the cheapest way to cross, but ending up having their luggage stolen or paying a random stranger money to cross because he looked like someone who worked in the immigrations office.</p> <p>This is where a bus service like <a href="http://www.ticabus.com/">TicaBus</a> or <a href="http://transnica.com/">TransNica</a> comes in handy. They handle all of the paperwork; they tell you what you are supposed to do and how much to pay, and what to do on the other side. And how do you find out where to find the stations and which routes or times are the best ones to book? From locals or from other travelers on the road who just passed that way. Fantastic. Your travels just got easier.</p> <p>If you have loftier travel goals and want to roll on through a few countries by bus to reach a final destination, you have a lot more logistics to handle. Most borders have entry and/or exit fees, and visa regulations differ depending on where you are and where you&rsquo;re from. In Central America, it&rsquo;s not too tough for a U.S. citizen to get through because the visa limitations are pretty minor. Most places let you stay for 90 days on a free tourist visa. In Costa Rica, you come in on a free 90 day tourist visa, as long as you have proof that you have a ticket out of the country. If you arrive in Nicaragua by bus, you also have 90 days to play. You can re-up your visa at a local immigration office. Twenty five dollars will get you an additional 30 days. If you don&rsquo;t leave on time, you&rsquo;ll be subject to a fine on your way out.</p> <p>Other parts of the world require at least a little bit of planning, although you can easily find information on what to do when you hit the ground. For instance, getting a visa to China can take a week or so or you can get an express visa processed overnight in Hong Kong &mdash; for a higher price. In Indonesia, you can buy one in the airport after you land. Twenty-five dollars will get you thirty days. Or you can buy one ahead of time and pay $45 for 60 days. Stay longer at your own economic peril because Indonesia fines you $22 for each day that you overstay your visa. Korea and Taiwan let U.S. citizens stay for 90 days on a tourist visa.</p> <p>It all depends on how you want to travel and how long you want to stay in a place. It never hurts to do a bit of pre-trip research to nail down the logistical details. It&rsquo;ll make your life and your travels that much easier. And it might save you some money in the end.</p> <p>So go on. Grab a ride to somewhere as yet unknown. You won&rsquo;t regret it.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/border-crossings-by-bus-how-to-see-more-of-the-world-for-less" class="sharethis-link" title="Border Crossings by Bus: How to See More of the World for Less" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sasha-a-rae">Sasha A. Rae</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/frugal-living/travel">Travel articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel border crossings buses visas Fri, 21 May 2010 12:00:05 +0000 Sasha A. Rae 91663 at http://www.wisebread.com The good life on less energy--even in the US http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bicycle-on-rural-road.jpg" alt="Bicycle on rural road" title="Bicycle on Rural Road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="185" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whenever I write a post about energy, I point out that we know it&#39;s possible to have a high standard of living while using less energy--people in European countries do, so it must be possible.  That always draws comments from people who say that things are different here.  When it comes to opportunities for saving energy, that&#39;s simply not true.</p> <p>Oh, sure, the Europeans have a much better train system.  In the US we&#39;ve spent that money on airports and highways.  But we do have <a href="/travel-on-amtrak">passenger rail</a>, and it&#39;s actually a pleasure to ride.</p> <p>Many European cities are also more compact than many US cities, making it easier to get around on foot or by bicycle.  But there are plenty of nice, compact US cities.</p> <p>Mass transit is spotty in the US compared to Europe, but there&#39;s <a href="/high-tech-for-mass-transit">good mass transit</a> in many US cities.</p> <p>Many European cities are more friendly to bicycles than many US cities, but there are plenty of cyclists in the US, and many US cities are bicycle-friendly.</p> <p>So, all these things exist in the US; <strong>they&#39;re just not widely distributed.</strong></p> <p>I&#39;d like to make two points in relation to that observation.</p> <p>First, as fuel prices continue to rise, all these energy-saving advantages that the Europeans have will become more widely distributed in the US as well.  As long as you live in a town or city (as opposed to a <a href="/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">rural area</a>), these advantages will come to you eventually.</p> <p>Second, you can choose where to live:  In a compact, bicycle-friendly city that&#39;s on an Amtrak line and has good mass transit, or someplace else.  </p> <p>Making a drastic change like where you live is not something to be done lightly.  Doing it smoothly may require a long lead time.  There may be jobs to find--even careers to change.  There may be houses to sell.  There may be elderly relatives that you&#39;d rather keep in their long-time home than move to another city.  There may be children who&#39;d much rather graduate from school with their friends then at some new school where they don&#39;t know anybody.  But, even taking all that into account, you still choose where to live--now and in the future.</p> <p>I&#39;d like to gently suggest that waiting for these advantages to come to you is probably the wrong choice, for three reasons.</p> <p>First, you miss out on the advantages in the meantime.  You&#39;ll be having to buy more fuel than people who live in communities that support efficiency. </p> <p>Second, as those advantages come to more and more places, you&#39;ll be stuck paying for them.  If you move someplace where these advantages already exist, you&#39;ll be taking advantage of ones that have already been paid for.  If you stay where you are, you can expect taxes to go up to pay for bringing rail and mass transit to you.  No doubt the costs will end up being spread around--but that just means that the people who get these advantages last will have been paying longest for everyone else.</p> <p>Third, these advantages will increasingly be reflected in property values.  It&#39;s already started.  A couple decades ago, being on a bus route was a negative.  (It brought undesirables--i.e. poor people--to the area.)  More recently, it&#39;s been pretty much a neutral.  (Even poor people have cars, so who cares?)  Just very recently, though, it&#39;s begun to boost property values.  (Quick test:  look in real estate ads and see if they&#39;ve started mentioning being on a bus line as a positive.  They&#39;ve always done it for apartments.  Now they&#39;re doing it for houses too.)  Property values in communities without these advantages haven&#39;t suffered much yet, because communities that provide no services can have low taxes.  But as the taxes go up anyway, the lack of services will drive property prices down.</p> <p>As fuel prices continue to rise, these &quot;European&quot; advantages will spread.  But they&#39;ll spread pretty slowly.  The US has spent trillions of dollars on infrastructure that really only useful for cars and planes.  Things like nationwide passenger rail and citywide mass transit systems don&#39;t just pop up overnight--they&#39;ll cost trillions of dollars as well (although a just a few billion will bring us much closer to the Europeans).</p> <p>Some of you--probably many of you, given the sort of people who read Wise Bread--already live someplace that has some or all the advantages that Europeans have enjoyed for decades.  As I see it, the rest of you can move to where you have these advantages as well, or you can stay where you are.  But, if you make the latter choice, you&#39;ll not only lose out on the advantages, you&#39;ll do so while still having to pay taxes to provide them for everyone else, and then you&#39;ll have to sit back and watch as your property values decline and the values of the properties in places that have them go up, making it more and more expensive to move in the future.</p> <p>Is your local area on the leading edge for any of these things?  Are you on an Amtrak line?  Do you have a good bus system?  Are there places to live that are within walking distance of shopping and jobs?  Are the roads safe for bicycles?  If you&#39;ve got some of these things, and the rest are coming, then you may be set already.  If not, be sure your plan for the future includes not just higher prices for fuel, but also higher taxes to pay for the infrastructure improvements your area needs.  If that doesn&#39;t appeal, be sure your plan includes moving to someplace that supports a lower-energy lifestyle.</p> <p>We know there are ways to have a high standard of living while using less fuel.  The Europeans have demonstrated one for us.  We&#39;re heading that direction as well--our present course simply isn&#39;t going to be affordable much longer.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us" class="sharethis-link" title="The good life on less energy--even in the US" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Cars and Transportation Green Living Real Estate and Housing bicycling bike buses clean energy conserve energy energy mass transit rail save energy train train travel walk walking Thu, 10 Jul 2008 12:18:50 +0000 Philip Brewer 2227 at http://www.wisebread.com High tech for mass transit http://www.wisebread.com/high-tech-for-mass-transit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/high-tech-for-mass-transit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cumtd.jpg" alt="CUMTD Bus" title="CUMTD Bus" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="131" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The local bus company where I live has started providing a bunch of high-tech aids to riders.</p> <p>The coolest one is <strong>sophisticated trip planning</strong>. In a web browser, enter your starting point, desired destination, and departure time. Get back a list of possible bus routes. You can get them sorted by fewest transfers, quickest arrival, or least walking.</p> <p>The results turn out to be fascinating, even if you already know how to reach the destination, as it finds all sorts of serendipitous routes:</p> <!--break--><!--break--><ul> <li>There are two buses that go right past my office that will get me downtown with a transfer. This tool pointed out that I could walk three blocks and catch a bus that will take me right downtown.</li> <li>I go to a weekly meeting at a coffee shop that&#39;s only five blocks from a bus that takes me home. This tool pointed out a bus that will take me those five block, which has been nice to know on rainy days.</li> <li>I even found one place where I could get off a bus a few blocks from a major transfer point, walk a block, and then catch a bus that I would otherwise have just missed. </li> </ul> <p>Besides the trip planner there are other new high-teach features:</p> <p><strong>Rerouting information by RSS feed.</strong> I get a short post every time there&#39;s a temporary change to a bus route due to something like construction or flooding. This is not only good for catching the bus, but is also handy if I&#39;m driving or bicycling, because I&#39;ll face the same obstacles the bus faces.</p> <p><strong>Schedule updates by text message.</strong> Every bus stop has an ID. Send a text message with that ID, and receive back a text message with the next few buses coming to your stop. Very handy to make sure you didn&#39;t just miss your bus, and also useful when deciding whether to take one bus versus holding out for a more direct route.</p> <p><strong>Bus stop signage with current bus arrival info</strong>. LED signs at some bus stops show the next five or six buses and when they&#39;ll arrive.</p> <p><strong>Desktop widget with current buses for any stop.</strong> This is the same information as the LED signs, but available on your desktop. Handy for knowing when to head out to catch the bus. </p> <p>Does your mass transit district offer high-tech features like these? I&#39;d be interested to get an idea if this sort of thing is already common. If you know, post in the comments. If you don&#39;t know, it&#39;s probably worth your while to find out. Where I live we have a superior mass transit district, so maybe we&#39;re on the leading edge. I&#39;d had no idea how good our bus service was, until I started riding it.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/high-tech-for-mass-transit" class="sharethis-link" title="High tech for mass transit" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks Cars and Transportation buses mass transit rss web Sun, 05 Aug 2007 18:50:07 +0000 Philip Brewer 954 at http://www.wisebread.com