FAMILY TRAVEL – VIAGGI
Traveling to New Jersey might not necessarily be on your family’s bucket list. But it should be. Getting to the Garden State is half the fun, sometimes more. Before you can get here, you have to figure out the best means of transportation for your family and you. You have three basic options, and they each have pros and cons. Check out the best ways to get to N.J. for your family vacation:
Road Trip to New Jersey
Details: Mine is a big state. To drive from one end to the other, you will spend three hours or more in the car or bus. There are plenty of both rest stops and sites to see along the way if you’re interested. In fact, the road trip itself makes for a great vacation regardless of the final destination. AAA offers maps, tips, and discounts to members planning road trips.
Questions to Ask Yourself: Is the point of this trip to see New Jersey and nearby states or is it to arrive at a destination? Are you traveling with kids or elderly people, who might not be able to endure many hours in the car? What is your budget and can you afford the time it takes to travel and the amount of gas you’ll need? What are your travel preferences? From where are you coming?
Best Fit: Road trips like this are best for those who are up for an adventure. You never know what can happen, especially if you’re driving from a far-away location. If you have little kids and elderly people with you, the car might not be the best option, especially if you’re coming a long distance.
For your safety (not to mention pleasure), you should consider taking it easy and making frequent stops. There are plenty of rest stops and sites to see along the way. Families may want to stop to see the Statue of Liberty, the Land of Make Believe, or Great Adventure. There’s also Liberty Science Center and a slew of historical sites, including all those places George Washington supposedly visited. Nearby states, including New York and Pennsylvania, offer other fun stops. Most importantly, you have to be willing to put up with the inconveniences of the car, the potential for traffic, and the possibility of accidents, such as blown out tires and the like.
Visiting by Train
Details: Amtrak offers trains through the Northeast corridor. More than 20 years ago, I often took these trains from Washington, D.C., where I attended university to either Penn Station in New York City or Newark, N.J. They offer a chance for quiet reflection and some scenic views. It took about as long as a car drive would have.
Questions to Ask: Is this trip more about the destination or the journey? How long are you willing to travel? The train can be cost effective, depending on the type of ticket and the distance, but it can be costly; what is your budget? Do you want to stop along the way or see other cities? Do you have any train enthusiasts traveling with you?
Best Fit: Of course, you have to be in an area from which trains to Jersey or a nearby city depart. You can even travel from Los Angeles to Newark, but it requires multiple train changes and layovers and more than a few days. It can cost as much as a plane, too. The point is you need to be looking for a more relaxed journey to your final destination. And you have to be able to take more time to get where you’re going. Also, the train stations are historic sites. But they can be dirty, and you don’t always find the best people hanging out there. Still, I never experienced any problems. I traveled during the day or early evening and passed through the stations just fine. Kids who are into trains might get a kick out of this to boot.
Flying In by Plane
Details: Visitors to New Jersey can fly into Newark, Philadelphia, or New York City (JFK or LaGuardia) and still have decent access to the state. Obviously, Philadelphia is best if you’re planning to visit more southern parts of the state. New York, on the other hand, is best if you’re going to be in the northern part of the state.
Questions to Ask: This is the costliest option in most cases, so is this in your budget? Do you need to arrive in the state quickly? How are your kids on flights?
Best Fit: This is a great option for families. You will arrive at the destination the fastest. You will need to rent a car or take a cab or bus to your final destination from the airport, especially if you flew into New York or Philadelphia. Of course, you have to budget for those additional costs. The plane is comfortable and safe. And you get the most time at the actual destination because you get there quickly. To be honest, whenever I can afford to travel by plane, I do it.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10. For more handmade crafts and party gear, visit the Italian Mamma store on Etsy.