Getting 12 people from NYC to Montreal and Back?
February 19, 2013 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Early May revelry-filled weekend excursion from NYC to Montreal for a group of roughly 12 20-somethings. We see time advantages to flying (provided all goes smoothly) but cost disadvantages. We see cost advantages to driving ourselves, but would like to minimize our personal stress and maximize fun. We see personal stress and maximum fun advantages to being driven, but have no experience with long-distance transporation charter and are unclear on whether this would be cheaper than flying. Any suggestions / experiences?
posted by undercoverhuwaaah to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you considered the train? It's a 10-hour ride, but you can sleep.
posted by payoto at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2013


It would be circuitous.

Montreal to Toronto
Toronto to New York.

But it would be cheap!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2013

Drive. Absolutely no question about it.
Flying would be just as long (if not longer) miserable and much more expensive.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The train is an all day affair. The bus -- they have them direct -- is a horribly miserable experience. The drive is about 7 hours if you drive yourselves and don't stop for meals. You're not saving much time if you fly. I'd look into the bus rentals that schools and sports teams use.
posted by jeather at 9:55 AM on February 19, 2013

Have you considered the train? It's a 10-hour ride, but you can sleep.

Eh, not really.
1. You can sleep in economy-class Amtrak, sort of, but it's not a good sleep. There are sleeper cars, but they're very expensive.
2. Maybe this has changed, but when I last rode the NYC-Montreal route you left NYC in the early morning and arrived in Montreal in the evening. So you may not want to sleep very much, even if you could.

That said, if you can think of the train ride as part of your vacation, it's a pleasant and very pretty journey. I'd recommend it if you have enough time - if not, drive.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:02 AM on February 19, 2013

Minibus rental; take turns driving.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:07 AM on February 19, 2013

2. Maybe this has changed, but when I last rode the NYC-Montreal route you left NYC in the early morning and arrived in Montreal in the evening. So you may not want to sleep very much, even if you could.

Well, I was thinking more about the return trip after the "revelry-filled weekend."
posted by payoto at 10:14 AM on February 19, 2013

When I was in college, I took the overnight Greyhound bus from Montreal to NYC. It is a bit miserable and cramped, but it was cheap and the fact that it's overnight means you won't miss a full day to travel time, which is pretty much going to happen with any other option.
posted by aiglet at 10:24 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you decide to fly, look into group fares on the airlines to see if you can get a discount.

In my experience, no one will want to do the 7-hour return drive.

You could also do the train to Albany and the bus/drive from there (thus avoiding any traffic coming into/out of the city, and get through the border quicker); vice-versa for the way back. Just make sure if you rent a car, that you are permitted to cross the border with it.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:18 AM on February 19, 2013

Rent two minivans (or 3 cars, whatever is cheaper) and drive.

I was supposed to fly from NYC to Montreal two weekends ago, and thanks to Nemo my flight was cancelled. Fortunately, I was notified about this the day before my flight, so my friend who was also flying and I decided to rent a car and see how the weather was looking in the morning. It didn't look too bad on our route (further east was hit much harder than 87 was). It took us 8.5hrs to drive up, which is not bad at all, considering the weather. It has taken that long before due entirely to traffic. The way home took only 5hrs and 35minutes, from downtown Montreal to Midtown Manhattan. Which is about how long getting to the airport in NY, then flying, and then to Montreal from the airport would take you. So worst case, it takes 9hrs. Best case it is as quick (if not quicker) than flying.

With just one person, it would've been slightly more expensive for the car (including gas) than the flight, but with two it was definitely cheaper. With a full car it'll be MUCH cheaper. And if you have the luxury of going out to NJ to rent and driving back in to pick up folks, it can be SUPER MUCH CHEAPER*.

* - but beware, don't return the car in NYC, cause then you're stuck paying the NYC rate for the full length of the rental. I used to use that method for YEARS until they finally caught on, which was a very sad day for my wallet.
posted by Grither at 11:29 AM on February 19, 2013

Taking the train over the border is a terrible experience - immigration has to come on and check the passports of everyone on board, it takes forever. I have no other advice other than avoid the train.
posted by Kololo at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do not take the train, for the reason that Kololo just mentioned. And for the same reason, if you do decide to charter or rent a bus, make sure that everyone's passport is in order before you leave. If a single one of your group has a missing or expired passport, the entire bus will be stuck at the border.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:32 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

You will lose a full day each way if you take the train. It's probably the most pleasant way to travel this route, but at 11ish hours, I'm not sure it's worth it. Especially if you're on a time constraint. I have taken the bus between Montreal and New York - both regular and overnight routes, and have never found it to be "miserable" as many other people describe it to be, and it's shorter and cheaper than taking the train.

Personally, I would rent a minibus, or some cars and drive. You can take turns driving, and it would be WAY cheaper than any other option. Not to mention that the route between NYC and Montreal is a very easy drive, so unless the majority of you are uncomfortable behind the wheel, I can't imagine it being stressful at all.
posted by ohmy at 12:43 PM on February 19, 2013

There aren't any party buses? In Boston, we have a package that's been running for years through a private bus company that's a weekend in Montreal plus hotel for some ridiculously low fee, and they cram you 4 in a hotel room for the cheapest option. So the whole bus is filled with people going to live it up in Montreal for the weekend. Never done it myself, but it seems like it'd be a fun time. I'd be surprised in NY didn't have some kind of similar thing.
posted by kpht at 2:18 PM on February 19, 2013

If you rent cars and drive, you'll have transportation when you get there, which is nice, in freezing damp wintertime Montreal. It'll make trips to Beaver Lake and such more enjoyable and give you more flexibility in choosing accomodation. Also, bring a GPS because Montreal isn't laid out in a sensible grid pattern like NY. Montreal expressways are a nightmare if you get lost.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:04 PM on February 19, 2013

The Adirondack does not have sleeper cars.

Do not take the bus via Toronto. That more than doubles the length of the trip.

If you can cram into three or four cars, and share driving duty, that's probably your best bet.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:08 PM on February 19, 2013

Greyhound to NYC from Montreal is horrible. It's cramped, it takes much longer than driving, and you need to get off the bus at the border and wait for everyone else to pass customs before your bus can leave. The last time I did it, two people were held back for questioning and we were there for hours.

I swore that I would never do this again: from now on it's flying or driving in a private car or bus.
posted by third word on a random page at 1:01 AM on February 20, 2013

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