Texas is far removed from the transportation hubs on the East and West Coast, but it’s easily accessible by plane and relatively accessible by car. The only problems travelers occasionally encounter when entering the state are at the Mexican border, where agents can take their sweet time checking vehicles and asking questions. See the Tips for Travelers section for more information about crossing the border.
Texas is easy to get to by air because its two largest cities—Houston and Dallas—are primary hubs for major airlines (Continental and American, respectively). As a result, flights from all over the country wind up in the Lone Star State, often at affordable rates. Texas’s other major cities—Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso—have international airports, but the nonstop flights from points beyond aren’t nearly as frequent (or cheap). Even Texas’s smaller cities (populations of 100,000 or greater) have airports, but you’ll have to go through Dallas or Houston to get there.
The interstate highway system in Texas is pretty impressive—for a state this huge, you can get from most major cities to the others (excluding El Paso) by noon. The roads tend to be in good shape since they don’t have to contend with icy conditions, but like most states, construction is a perpetual issue in Texas’s metro areas. Increased truck traffic from Mexico has taken its toll on some of the freeways, and rural roads between smaller cities can get a bit rough, but that doesn’t deter Texans from going 90 mph. The Texas Department of Transportation (www.dot.state.tx.us) oversees all aspects of vehicular travel.
Be forewarned: Traveling by train in Texas is not nearly as charming as it sounds. Trains stop frequently between destinations and for long periods of time. The trip from Austin to Fort Worth can take as long as nine hours—the same trek is about three hours by car. Unfortunately, the fares aren’t usually low enough to make the extra time worthwhile. One of the few trips recommended by some train travelers is the scenic trek to far West Texas (Alpine and beyond to El Paso), even though it can take up to 24 hours to get there. For more information, contact Amtrak at www.amtrak.com or 800/872-7245.
Texas’s Gulf Coast has several major shipping ports, including Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, and Brownsville. Virtually all the activity is industrial, but cruise ships occasionally dock in Houston and Galveston. Contact the cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc.) to see if they plan voyages to the Lone Star State.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition