The Crew wants to go by train. The problem with Amtrak is that the fares keep changing until you book your trip. But as of today, an adult fare from Chicago to Raton is about $129. Double that for a round trip, add in the Megabus from Indy to Chicago (cheap), some baggage costs for backpacks, the $45 shuttle fee for the bus from Raton to Philmont, and we're still in reasonable territory. But, Philmont has no room for people who arrive early or leave late. So, we'd probably have to spend two nights in Cimarron, which even at four people per room in a motel is rather pricey. And, we've got to feed everybody for four days coming and going. My best estimate as of now is that it would cost us c. $460 per person to travel this way.
Now, if we drive, it goes like this. It's a 2400 mile round trip to Philmont. Two vehicles = 4800 miles. If both vehicles average 24 mpg on the highway, then at $4 per gallon of gas that comes to $800 fuel costs. Camping out west is cheap. We can camp five nights for $60, total. That comes to $860, or about $95 per person going. Add in $45 food costs and $20 for an attraction along the way to break up the monotony, and you get a total transportation cost of $160 per person. That's a savings of three hundred dollars; BUT, it takes an extra day each way, and lots of people (especially adults) get all stressed out about two extra days on a long trip.
It all comes down to my first maxim of travel: Fast, Cheap, and Convenient; pick two.