When it comes to getting away, most people think about flying the friendly skies or driving their own vehicles on a road trip. Those are great options, but boarding a bus remains one of the most affordable ways to travel.
Here’s how to score less expensive bus tickets
As with flights and train travel, the key to finding the deals is to search multiple sources. To score the lowest deals, buy your tickets in the off-season and steer clear of holidays.
As for pricing, much has been made about $1 bus fares, and yes, they do still exist. Megabus and Boltbus both offer bus tickets for a dollar, but to get them you’re usually going to have to book a seat as early as possible. Let’s go into detail a bit:
Boltbus, which is owned by Greyhound, only serves select cities along the Northeast, West Coast and Canada. Boltbus publishes four to six weeks of schedules at a time, so you can’t book any further out than that. At least one $1 fare (plus a transaction or booking fee) is made available for each route, but they go fast.
A no-frills bus service, Boltbus offers no discounts for students, seniors or infants. If you sign up for the Boltbus rewards program, you’ll be privy to premium seating in what is called the A Group. You’ll also become eligible for a free one-way trip after eight trips.
Providing intercity travel since 2006, Megabus has proven to be one of the cheapest alternatives for getting to more than 90 top destinations in the United States.
There are only a few $1 seats (plus a $2.50 reservation fee) for sale on each Megabus route. And, like Boltbus, the tickets go quickly. In Megabus’s terms and conditions it says “While ticket prices start at $1.00 on all trips, megabus.com typically only sells a very limited number of $1.00 tickets per trip to the first or initial customers that purchase a ticket for that trip.”
The thing to remember with Megabus is that many of its stops take place at curbside, outdoor locations. Still, if you want the very best rate, try to book as far as 45 days in advance and travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
If you want to travel to some smaller markets, Greyhound is your best bet. The Dallas, Texas-company serving more than 3,800 destinations in U.S. cities has four types of discounts: children traveling with adults, 10% off for students, 10% off for active and retired service members and their families, and a 5% discount for senior citizens.
You can save on Greyhound tickets three ways:
- Join Greyhound’s rewards program, Road Rewards, for sales, discounts and points, which can be turned into free tickets. You’ll get 10% off your next ticket when you book your first trip
- As part of the Midweek Savings program, save up 40% when you travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays
- Travel before 10 a.m. for the biggest savings on bus routes
There are a number of internet resources for booking your bus tickets. Instead of calling individual companies and getting into your car to go book, skip the line and head online to the following bus travel sites.
Wanderu.com is a transit site that specializes in affordable bus and train fares (but also offers flights and hotels) in North America and Europe.
Checkmybus.com is travel portal that claims it can save you up to 70% on average and offers the most routes worldwide. It also boasts one-click real-time search. The site’s blog highlights some of the best travel deals for the month.
Featuring cheap Greyhound prices, Busbud is well-regarded for its comprehensive search results and mobile app. The site, which shows routes in more than 63 countries, also has user-submitted travel reviews for every route. If you search online, you may even be able to find a discount code, which could save you up to 20% on selected travel routes.
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