advertisement

By Plane

The San Antonio International Airport (airport code SAT; tel. 210/207-3411; www.ci.sat.tx.us/aviation) is 7 miles north of downtown. It is compact, well marked, and has two terminals. Among its various amenities are a postal center, ATM, foreign-currency exchange, game room, and well-stocked gift shops. Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty all have rental-car desks at both of the airport terminals.

Attention visitors to the U.S. from abroad: Some major airlines offer transatlantic or transpacific passengers special discount tickets under the name Visit USA, which allows mostly one-way travel from one U.S. destination to another at very low prices. Unavailable in the U.S., these discount tickets must be purchased abroad in conjunction with your international fare. This system is the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to see the country. Inquire with your air carrier.

Getting into Town from the Airport -- Loop 410 and U.S. 281 S. intersect just outside the airport. If you're renting a car here, it should take about 15 to 20 minutes to drive downtown via U.S. 281 S.

Most of the hotels within a radius of a mile or two offer free shuttle service to and from the airport (be sure to check when you make your reservation). If you're staying downtown, you'll most likely have to pay your own way.

VIA Metropolitan Transit's bus no. 5 is the cheapest ($1.10) way to get downtown. The trip should take from 40 to 50 minutes. You need exact change.

SATRANS (tel. 800/868-7707 or 210/281-9900; www.saairportshuttle.com), with a booth outside each of the terminals, offers shared van service from the airport to the downtown hotels for $18 per person one-way, $32 round-trip. Prices to other destinations vary; call or check the website for specifics. Vans run from about 7am until 1am; phone 24 hours in advance for van pickup from your hotel.

There's a taxi queue in front of each terminal. Airport taxis will cost about $25 for downtown destinations.

By Bus

The Greyhound bus line (tel. 800/231-2222 or 210/270-5824; www.greyhound.com) and its affiliates handle all the bus travel between cities in Texas. The Greyhound station in San Antonio is downtown at 500 N. St. Mary's St.

By Car

If you're visiting from abroad and plan to rent a car in the United States, keep in mind that foreign driver's licenses are usually recognized in the U.S., but you should get an international one if your home license is not in English.

If you plan to rent a car in the United States, you probably won't need the services of an additional automobile organization. If you're planning to buy or borrow a car, automobile-association membership is recommended. AAA (American Automobile Association; tel. 800/222-4357; www.aaa.com) is the country's largest auto club and supplies its members with maps, insurance, and, most important, emergency road service. The cost of joining runs from $71 to $124 for singles and from $97 to $178 for two members, but if you're a member of a foreign auto club with reciprocal arrangements, you can enjoy free AAA service in America.

San Antonio is fed by four interstates (I-35, I-10, I-37, and I-410), three U.S. highways (U.S. 281, U.S. 90, and U.S. 87), four state highways (Tex. 16, Tex. 211, Tex. 151, and Tex. 1604), and several Farm-to-Market (FM) roads. In San Antonio, I-410 and Hwy. 1604, which circle the city, are referred to as Loop 410 and Loop 1604. All freeways lead into the central business district; U.S. 281 and Loop 410 are closest to the airport.

San Antonio is 975 miles from Atlanta; 1,979 miles from Boston; 1,187 miles from Chicago; 1,342 miles from Los Angeles; 1,360 miles from Miami; 527 miles from New Orleans; 1,781 miles from New York; 1,724 miles from San Francisco; and 2,149 miles from Seattle. The distance to Dallas is 282 miles, to Houston 199 miles, and to Austin 80 miles.

The most cost-effective, convenient, and comfortable way to travel around the United States is by car. The interstate highway system connects cities and towns all over the country; in addition to these high-speed, limited-access roadways, there's an extensive network of federal, state, and local highways and roads. The Texas state highway system is one of the best in the U.S., as it is funded with oil revenues.

By Train

Trains leave from the depot at 350 Hoefden St. (tel. 210/223-3226) in downtown San Antonio. Call tel. 800/USA-RAIL (872-7245), or log on to www.amtrak.com for current fares, schedules, and reservations. The Sunset Limited leaves for Orlando via Houston and New Orleans three times a week at 11:55pm. It departs for Los Angeles at 7am three times a week. The Texas Eagle departs for Chicago via Austin and Dallas daily at 7am.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.