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I'm preparing a quite long travel and part of it would be to go from Montreal to Atlanta. I've never been in America, and wondered if there may be alternative to plane, preferably cheaper ?

I may take up to 3 days for the travel, though 1 or 2 would still be better :)

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You can tell more precisely what criteria matter : time or money? and a suggestion, look at flights from Burlington, VT. Airport fees in Canada are pretty high compared to US –  Vince Mar 14 '13 at 22:20

2 Answers 2

I see from your profile that you're located in France. So let's start with the possibly-obvious: Montreal is not in America, while Atlanta is. I mention this because train and bus travel across the US-Canada border is not exactly co-ordinated. Luckily many American bus and train companies offer service to Montreal. Some Canadian ones offer service to New York, but no further.

Second, the distance between these two cities is about 2000km. If you could drive at 100 km/hr without having to stop to sleep or eat, it would take you 20 hours. On a bus, which will make more frequent stops, it would take longer. And if you have to change buses in some intermediate city like New York, it will likely take longer still. This will apply to the train also.

VIA Rail implies on their website that they will take you from Montreal to New York, but you just end up on a web page that says to talk to Amtrak. On the Amtrak site I learned it is 11 hours Montreal to New York, and 18 hours New York to Atlanta, plus of course whatever the connectiin time is between the two. For the particular date I checked, the first train gets in at 8:20pm and the next one leaves at 2:15pm the next day, so you'd need to spend the night in New York. Sitting in a seat the whole way (the cheapest option) would cost you about $200.

In contrast, Air Canada will get you there with one connection in as little as 5 hours, for a price of $331 taxes and all. Unless your New York hotel room costs less than $130 a night, you will spend less money flying. You might find a better price on a low cost carrier - I just looked on the site I know how to use.

There are a number of cheap bus lines from Montreal to New York. I checked Greyhound.com and their lowest price is $89 and the fastest time seems to be 29 hours total - which is definitely both cheaper and faster than the train.

You still have more research to do - I didn't check all the airlines or all the bus lines, but this gives you the rough parameters. If spending between 24 and 48 hours getting there is ok for you, look further into buses. If you don't mind $331 but were worried the plane would be thousands, look further into planes. You can do most of this yourself over the web once you learn the names of the companies that offer the service.

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Thanks for all these informations, I'll study it. I rapidely check for Burlington, VT -> Atlanta, and it may even be cheaper (87€). I will check for buses to Burlington, or even see if I can buy / rent a road bike for a nice one-day trip :) –  Geoffroy Mar 14 '13 at 22:54
    
Montreal IS in America, as the whole Canada. You probably meant "is not in USA". –  Zonata Jul 25 '13 at 1:17
    
@Zonata you saying that doesn't make it so. "America" is a name for the USA, just as Mexico is a name for the United States of Mexico and Britain is a name for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Nobody says "America" for the two continents, they say "The Americas". Canada is not part of America and it's not polite to insist that it is, either. –  Kate Gregory Jul 25 '13 at 1:52
    
It might not be polite, but it is still true. The fact that you want it to meant USA does not make it anymore right. Am I not an American as a French is an European? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americas –  Zonata Jul 25 '13 at 6:02

Google Maps suggests that a road trip from Montreal to Atlanta takes about 18 hours. Given how many people from Montreal routinely drive down to Florida for their Christmas holidays, I'd say that's realistic. Whether this is a better way to travel than by plane depends on your personal preferences - if I were to take the road option, I'd probably go for 3 days that allow for (very limited) sight-seeing (or at least scenic routes) rather than a one-day energy-drink-fueled driving binge.

Cost depends on the insurance you need; if you already have liability insurance, you should be able to get away with less than $500 for a rental plus gas plus cheap motels. You may have to call the rental company to have pick-up and drop-off locations in two different countries, though.


You will not require ESTA if you enter the US by land (you'll have to pay for and fill out a I-94, though); you will require ESTA if you enter the US by air or sea.

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Should I still ask the second question separately ? Thanks for you response, though I won't rent a car it's an interesting possibility –  Geoffroy Mar 14 '13 at 22:46
    
@Geoffroy: Go ahead if and ask, if you want. –  Jonas Mar 14 '13 at 23:37

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