texas without a car

Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:45 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 51
texas without a car

Hi! I'm afraid to drive on the right hand side of the road...so consequently do not plan on hiring a car in the US. Does anyone have any suggestions for public transport within Texas. How would you get around if you didn't hire a car? For example: would you get the bus accross the state or would you fly? How safe is the bus? Do you know of any private tours in Texas...esp that go to West Texas and Big Bend? Any ideas will be very helpful to me. Thanks.
leanapayne is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:51 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
My honest advice is that you probably already KNOW how to drive on the right hand side unless where you drive now doesn't have any expressways.

Is the real issue the steering wheel location? The shifting?

Frankly, I'd get a rental which has automatic transmission (fewer pedals to worry about) which is what I'm doing when I go to the UK this April.

Texas is HUGE; don't take busses or organized tours because of your fear...do something positive to overcome it and minimize it.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:03 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 51
Thanks Intrepid1

I guess that I could get used to driving on the RHS (the technical side of things after a few hours driving but I'm probably more afraid of being on the road in the US by myself: Breaking down, being hijacked, getting lost, being in an accident etc. Public transport gives someone else the responsibility for my safety. I know I would have a much better time in the US if I could just get over this fear.
leanapayne is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:17 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 445
Being highjacked? Bus safety? Did you mean Texas or Colombia?
Kath is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:35 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,869
My biggest problem driving in the UK was entering the car on the "wrong" side. I did have a bit of a problem with "knowing" where the left side was in "space" as well.
Those will not be a problem on the highways and especially not in "Big Bend", Terlingua, Lajitas, Marathon (Hot. Gage), Marfa, Ft. Davis, Balmorhea (Hots. at the state parks for the latter 2), etc.
M
mikemo is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:35 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,716
Texas is a very big state and there's really no reliable (or frequent) public transportation that you can take between it's major cities so you'd have to fly from city to city. that means you'll spend lots of time in airports rather than enjoying what Texas really has to offer. Besides once you arrive at the "new" city you'll still need a car to see the sights as getting around them is not really easy using public transportation. In all honesty Texans are in love with their cars and very rarely use buses to travel from point A to Point B so the public transportation infrastructure is not really condusive for travel, except perhaps during rush hour to/from suburban bedroom comunities to the downtown business centers.

The highway systems are well maintained and very safe to drive. Hijackings are very rare (don't let the images of stage coach robberies that you see in old western movies worry you - Texas is not the "wild west" anymore) and you'll find plenty of rest stops, emergency call boxes, service stations, small towns, and other places where you can get assistance should the need arise. The highways are well patrolled and they are relatively heavily travelled so that if, on the slim chance, you do suffer a mechanical breakdown someone will probably stop to offer you assistance (Texans are very thoughtful like that).

As for getting lost, that shouldn't be a problem if you stay on the major highways. If you do decide to venture on to some of the secondary roads all you will need is a good road map to get you back on track - don't forget you can always stop at a local gas station or convience store and someone will gladly give you directions.
A_Traveller is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:37 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 519
Or you could rent a car with a GPS system (like Hertz Neverlost)
Jean_Valjean is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:39 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
The "hi-jacking" probably happened more frequently in Florida than in Texas.

I somehow doubt there is much chance of a "breakdown" in a rental car but most, if not all, rental companies provide services in case of a breakdown.

Getting lost..depends on where you are driving. Open majpor roads in the US are some of the best signed/marked anywhere, including Europe.
\
But I'm going to sign off this thread for the simple reason that you have identified the "problem" you have to deal with and, unfortunately, no amount of information from me is going to prompt you to act.

Intrepid1 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:39 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
leanapayne, I feel as safe driving in Texas alone as I would in Ireland or the English countryside.
starrsville is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:03 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,038
I can understand your hesitation toward driving on the right with a left hand steering car. I had the same fears when i had to learn to keep to the left. After about 15 minutes in Kingston, Jamaica I was appointed chauffer.

If you do decide to rent a car, you will have little difficulty once you leave the airport area and get out onto the highway. Its a little intimidating, but public transport in Texas would not be reccommended. My lingering trouble with right hand steering is that whenever i want to signal a turn i flip on the windshield wipers. Flying from place to place is an option..Texas is big.

Where are you coming from? Hope all works out well for you.
SamH is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:06 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,566
Leana, everyone here has given you very good advice. You would do well to rent a car if you want to see West Texas and Big Bend. There are very few airports out there with commercial passenger service; most of them are for private planes only. I lived in West Texas for 6 years, and the people are extremely friendly and are very curious to meet foreign tourists! Getting directions if you get lost, or getting help if your rental car did break down, will not be a problem. I've never heard of any hijackings, etc. in West Texas.

You might also consider buying a "go phone" which is a mobile phone that is pre-paid and doesn't require a contract. Mobile phone reception along the highways in West Texas is surprisingly good.

ALL rental cars here in the US have automatic transmission as most Americans (self included) are unfamiliar with how to drive a manual transmission car! They are also usually quite new and very well-maintained, and if you have any sort of trouble with the car, the rental company will assist you with everything.

FYI, you can't drive a US rental car into Mexico.
ChristieP is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:12 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,038
Interesting to note: several "no votes" based on friends' or friends of friends' experiences. Some "go for it with precaution" by what seems more experienced drivers in MX. Sounds a lot like the go or dont go to Jamaica threads in the Caribbean posts.
SamH is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:35 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 51
Thanks for all the detailed advice. I live in South Africa where hijackings are quite common! I think that my fear of America stems from all those movies (I think one of them was actually called 'Breakdown') where people end up having very nasy experiences on the road in the middle of nowhere. Probably also because I live in a relatively dangerous country and am paranoid about crime.

I have done two trips to Texas already but was restricted to downtown Austin & Fort Worth because of my fear of hiring a car & driving. I also spent a fortune on taxis including something ridiculous like $150 between Forth Worth and Dallas on my first night in the USA.
leanapayne is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:41 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
Follow the advice on this board and buy a "go phone" when you are here so you can call if there's a problem.

Do rent a car with a navigation device if you aren't a good map reader.

But, you will be amazed at how nice folks are. I've traveled for years on rural southern roads and rarely have had ANY kind of problem (flat tire, etc.) but folks have always been helpful. The last time I had a flat, I was waiting for the tow truck service I had called, and the sheriff stopped and changed the tire for me (and waved the truck on when it arrived).

The only place I've ever been nervous in a rental car was in Miami, FL. You'll be more than fine in Texas.

Be sure to spend time in the Hill Country and drive out to Fredricksburg, TX.
starrsville is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:43 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,369
While I too agree that driving is the better way to go in Texas, there must be bus service, Greyhound? Or trains, Amtrak? Or flying city to city?

The easiest solution for Leana is to rent a car, but there must be other alternatives. Right?

That said, I would definitely not be afraid because of hijacking or "road rage" type incidents. Highly unlikely IMO!

Texas is BIG BIG BIG, much of your driving would be along straight open highways.
suze is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:49 AM
  #16  
TheWeasel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Big Bend is pretty difficult to see without a car. There is no public transportation within 100 miles, and most tours begin from towns much closer than that. Besides, it's such a huge park that driving through it with just a few stops wouldn't do it justice.

When are you planning to go? The busiest season at Big Bend is spring (March/April) and summer is brutally hot. Also, cellphone reception is virtually non-existent within the park and the immediate vicinity. I had no reception on my phone until I got to Alpine.
 
Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:59 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,869
Re: security.
Texas has a concealed weapons law which
has significantly reduced many house invasion and car jacking crimes.
M
mikemo is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:08 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
I'm not sure Greyhound would be the most "scenic" way to "do" Texas.

If leana truly does not want to drive, then perhaps a combination of flights to the cities (Southwest Airlines has cheap flights) and then book a bus tour (Gray Line or similar).

mikemo, your input serves little purpose (IMO) and also gives the OP more imagery that cannot be helpful. Your posts are often caustic and critical, but is your intent truly to add more things for her to needlessly worry about?
starrsville is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:15 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
HERE ARE SOME LINKS, LEANA...

For Gray Line tours of key Texas cities, check out -
http://www.iridekbc.com/grayline.asp

For bus service (Greyhound) between cities in Texas, click on the "Schedule Service" link to the right.

I found these by going to www.grayline.com, but Kerr Bus Service is the franchise they use in Texas
starrsville is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 08:56 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,566
Leana, I've seen the movie "Breakdown," and that's not reality here in the USA, especially not in West Texas! That's like saying you don't want to go to New York City because you saw "Escape From New York!" I've had several South African friends, and things are very different here!! They told me about how things were at home (amazing home security systems, armed guards, etc.) and it just shocks me. In West Texas, there are many small towns where people don't even lock their home's doors...it is just that safe!

I'm so sorry that you spent so much money on cabs when you were here in Dallas/Fort Worth. These cities are just not friendly to people without a car...

Amtrak in Texas is not a good way to travel because it severely limits the places you can go. There is one north-south route, and one east-west route. It's not nearly as handy as the trains in Europe!

The closest cities with commercial passenger airline service to Big Bend are El Paso (300 miles), Del Rio (280 miles), and Midland/Odessa (273 miles). So, if you want to see Big Bend, flying really won't help you get close to the park.
ChristieP is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:39 PM.