Can I get to there from here?
May 30, 2016 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Help me solve my transportation conundrum!

Hey y'all,

So I got an exciting job interview, to be an ESL teacher at a boarding school. I am in Boston, and the school is in the Hamptons. I have been invited to travel out there, stay on campus, and teach a demo lesson. I'm not sure how I feel about uprooting everything to go live at a boarding school, but I am going to at least go and see what it's like! The difficulty here is that I don't have a car and haven't driven a car in around 15 years (I did it poorly, kept hitting inanimate things, and have thus far lived in cities where I haven't needed one). I only have a couple of days to figure this out, so "suddenly re-learning driving" probably won't work. How can I get out there without one?
As far as I can see it, my options are:
-Take a train or bus into NYC and then take the Jitney (or the LIRR?) as far as I can go, probably ending with a taxi?
-Fly into NYC and take the LIRR from JFK? (note: the school has offered to pay my expenses, which is great, but of course I don't want to surprise them with a $1000 plane ticket).
-Fly somewhere on Long Island?

I realize this speaks to some larger questions, like if this is really the right job for me, but if the job seems amazing and I get an offer, I will have time to contemplate a larger decision. But I won't be able to pull it off in time for this interview.

Thanks, y'all.
posted by bookgirl18 to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)

They're expecting you to fly at least part of the way. It will not be a surprise. Did they tell you to make the arrangements yourself and that you'd be reimbursed? If so, they should have told you what their expense cap was - this is standard, but it's even more standard for jobs to just foot the bill and set it all up for you with their travel agents when they are recruiting you and want you to come check them out (at least in academic positions). I would get in touch with the person who made you the offer to ask them for more specifics, because based on your questions it sounds like you don't have all the information you need to actually make your travel plans.
posted by sockermom at 2:03 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

To start, a boarding school likely has visitor information on their website that lists common ways to get there, as it's understood that students, parents, and other visitors will be coming from out of town and need directions. I'd see if you can find such a page.

When a job interview involves travel, this is usually the sort of question you can put to them. Some companies will actually arrange the travel for you, but even if you're expected to arrange it yourself, they're paying for it and can provide direction about how they'd like you to go. It doesn't sound like they've given you a lot of details about travel arrangements, so you can ask about getting there in the context of clarifying their travel reimbursement policy. You are certainly not the first person to visit them and they should be able to recommend something. Just tell them that you live in the city and don't currently drive and ask whether a taxi/Uber/whatever from the airport/train station is practical.

And while you're there, it's a good idea to evaluate whether it's a place you can realistically live without a car. Or consider whether some driving lessons would help you feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
posted by zachlipton at 2:07 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

For flying, check out flights to both La Guardia and Islip. You should be ablel to get public transportation, either train or bus, to within Uber distance.

For a job interview, I see no problem in calling and saying you can't come by car, and what's the best option if on LIRR or bus. That's the thing I would try to ask a secretary and not bother a principle.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:56 PM on May 30, 2016

It might be easier to take amtrak to penn station in nyc and then take lirr, also from penn station. to be fair, i like travelling by train and find it less stressful than flying
posted by the twistinside at 5:21 PM on May 30, 2016

I'm guessing I know where the boarding school is. The easiest thing for you to do is fly into JFK and take AirTrain to the Jamaica station and take LIRR out to East Hampton, and then hop in a cab. Flying to Islip would mean taking car service all the way there, and may not save you that much time depend on on when you arrive and what the traffic is like.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:48 PM on May 30, 2016

Yeah, I'd also do a little googling and definitely a lot of checking about how easy it is to get around car-free. Big swaths of Long Island are very car dependent, and your ability to get comfortable with a car may make or break your experience with the school if you are offered the job.

In fact, I have a friend in East Hampton now (and it may be partially due to the specific part he lives in), but from what I gather it's brutally unpedestrian-friendly with only deeply ritzy stores (think 1%) in the actual town part, none of which is within walking distance of where he lives anyway. He's planning to move back to a city, as a result.

Also, if you plan to meet with the school the same day you travel, take the shortest/easiest route there, so you don't show up sweaty and exhausted. And travel knowing that high season in the Hamptons officially starts after Memorial Day, so depending on when you go, traffic may be a concern.

Boston to NY is about 4 hours by train (if they're prompt; I've had it take as long as 6), and getting to the Hamptons (another 100 miles) is another 2 or so hours. I gather, also, that the preferred route to the Hamptons is either the train or the jitney (which is like a snazzy bus)*, but calculate in possible traffic issues with anything bus-like, depending on the hour that you go.

I've taken the bus from Boston, hit traffic jams, and had the whole thing take 7 or 8 hours, which is to say so far behind schedule it's a wonder I didn't jump out the window. Likewise, several of the Chinatown buses don't have the best ... safety record. So compare, contrast and, you know, enjoy! At the very least, the whole thing will be an interesting summer adventure!

*Note: I'm not sure if there's only one jitney or several. This is just the first one I found.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:20 PM on May 30, 2016

I do Boston-NYC fairly often and depending on where you live in Boston, the train is sometimes faster than flying once you factor in getting to & from both airports as both train stations are downtown--especially if you can afford the Acela which is ~3.5 hrs. (I nearly always take the cheaper Northeast Regional which is ~4.5 hrs.) It's a beautiful route and I find train travel much less taxing than air travel. (Bonus: trains have power outlets at all seats.)

I've even done the Amtrak to Penn, LIRR to Long Island suggested above although not nearly as far out as the Hamptons. According to Google, you're looking at another 3 hrs or so to get from Penn OR JFK to East Hampton via LIRR, so again, train only vs. air + train is a wash time-wise. No matter what, you're going to need a full day to get there.

Something else to keep in mind if you decide to take Amtrak is that while the trains going to NYC nearly always leave on time, in my experience, trains leaving NYC for Boston are far more often delayed, especially during the afternoon, so be mentally prepared for that.
posted by smirkette at 5:19 AM on May 31, 2016

Just a quick belated follow-up about this question - I did consult with the school's travel planner, and in the end I followed the advice many of y'all gave me by flying in to NYC proper and then taking the Jitney (with the school covering all of the costs). I think it was the smoothest, most painless way to make it happen.
Thanks guys!
posted by bookgirl18 at 8:10 AM on July 19, 2016

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