Heading to the big city?
Before you pack up your car, or book that flight or train, there’s another option you’re probably forgetting about.
This option is not necessarily for those seeking luxury or speed, but if you’re working within a budget, this may be your best choice!
If you haven’t guessed by now (or read the title), what I’m talking is taking the bus.
I used to think that taking the bus was only something that college kids or less fortunate people would take, but boy was I wrong.
This can be a great way to travel!
Here are several good reasons you should consider taking the bus on your next trip to the big city.
I’ve only taken the bus twice in my life, once when I was a broke college kid. The other was last winter when I took a trip to NYC and was looking for cheaper options than I was seeing.
And wow was it cheap!
The round trip flights from DC were going to cost me nearly $200 while a train would have been about $150.
Even driving the 5 hours is more expensive than you’d think, primarily due to the $40-$50 tolls you have to pay (unless you want to loop around the tolls to add 2 hours to the trip…).
Instead, I remembered how I took the bus all those years ago. I looked up the route and found a match!
$48 round trip!! I booked immediately.
In the past, I probably would have chosen the cheapest option in my mind and just driven.
By searching around though and reviewing my options I actually found an even cheaper option that was more convenient for me!
I again am visiting NYC this weekend and scored some $42 bus tickets back in January, even better than last time!
If you’re diligent and look far enough in advance, you can even find tickets for as cheap as $1. Yep, you read that right.
Now, not all bus tickets are this cheap. The more popular the route, the more options there are, the cheaper the tickets will be. This is why I mentioned your trip to the big city, because it’s on these trips that you’ll usually find the cheapest tickets.
Distance also needs to be considered. You would not find me booking a round trip bus ticket to Seattle, no matter how cheap it is.
Another great thing about the bus is how convenient it can be.
No need to arrive hours beforehand to stand in outrageous lines at the airport.
Though it is recommended that you arrive early, typically you just need to stand in line right before boarding your bus trip.
When compared to driving your car?
Taking the bus, you’d have no need to pay attention to the road, deal with bad drivers and/or sit in traffic.You also can do so many other things you wouldn’t be able to do while driving, such as read, sleep, watch a show, etc.
Sounds pretty ideal to me!
On longer trips they even schedule in 10-15 minute stops at rest stops so you can stretch out or grab food if need be.
All this, for a lower cost and about the same time as it would take you to drive? Why not!?
I’ve also noticed that some buses have more leg room than airlines. As a tall guy, you always notice these things.
Compared with airplanes and trains, buses are easily the most eco-friendly way to travel.
Most people know that airplanes are not a very green way to travel. But trains aren’t very good themselves either.
Taking the bus also means that there is one less car on the road. While buses have more emissions than cars, they can also carry more people which lowers their emissions per person.
This means that by taking the bus, not only can you save money, but you can also be helping the planet!
Would you take the Bus?
I get it, the bus isn’t meant for everyone. Many people have complaints when riding the bus.
I’ve seen and heard of comments such as long delays, poor restrooms, cramped seating and legroom, among a myriad of other complaints.
Ultimately though, are those not so different than say, taking an airplane?
Sure the overall travel time may be longer on a bus, but in some instances is it really worth an extra $100+ to take that flight?
I think this is certainly qualifies as one of those interesting debates between spending time vs money, which will ultimately vary from person to person depending on their preferences.
For me? If it’s somewhere I’m willing to drive, I now will always check to see if there’s a cheap bus ticket. Sometimes it looks like it’ll be worth it, and other times not.
For those looking to save money on travel, this could be your ticket!
Have you ever taken the bus before? If so, would you do it again?
11 thoughts to “Looking for Cheap Travel? Take the Bus”
Back in college, and for the year or so after graduation before I got my car, Megabus and I were best friends. Well, not really best friends since I had my share of ridiculous delays and issues with the bus not showing up/with having a 30 minute detour when all was said and done to a hotel to switch drivers when we were FIVE MINUTES away from getting to our stop/etc, but it was by far the cheapest way for me to get home for breaks. I’m thankful these days that I can drive home, which means I can leave when I want, don’t have to stop if I don’t need to, can take detours to avoid traffic, and can drive straight home instead of to a dropoff location downtown, but I’ll definitely still take the bus to other places.
Especially NYC because no way would I ever drive up there from here. Even taking the huge traffic factor out of the equation, I’m always blown away by just how expensive the tolls are. Plus who wants to deal with parking in the city? It’s great that there are so many buses in the day because in order to save money I’ve taken super early buses/very late buses for a day trip so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel.
And you’re right, the leg room factor is such an important one haha!
Haha I agree with all the above! I definitely prefer to drive to most places so that I have the flexibility of all that stuff you mentioned.
But when going to big cities with large public transportation networks I think the bus is the way to go. No traffic/tolls/parking/etc. all that stuff is too big of a hassle!
Definitely a good option for the trip you’re going on, especially going to New York City itself. Otherwise you’d have to pay an outrageous toll at the tunnel, plus another ridiculous fee to park your car in the city.
Another option would be to park your car close by in NJ and take a cheap ride in on NJ Transit trains, but even there you’re paying a parking fee and the tolls on the NJ Turnpike, plus whatever the tolls are in the DC/Baltimore area. You could stay on 95 toll-free all the way up through Philadelphia and cross north of Trenton (rather than getting on the Turnpike right after passing through Delaware), but even then you’d have to get on the Turnpike eventually and pay a toll.
I’ve never understood why people take the train between New York and DC. It’s incredibly expensive and while the time is a bit shorter, it’s not a large enough difference for me to pay the extra for a train instead of driving (or taking the bus in this instance). Flying between these two cities also never made much sense to me, but people seem to do it all the time.
I’m definitely in agreement with you. Every time I’ve looked the flights and trains have been so much more expensive than necessary that I’ve never actually considered taking them. There’s much more cheaper options out there that aren’t too far out of the way!
I freaking love public transit (as I stand waiting for the bus right now). I honestly don’t like driving, and don’t like spending money, so I opt for the bus whenever it’s feasibke. We also love exploring new cities (and even small towns) via bus when we’re traveling – it allows us a more laid back way to travel, and no one has to be DD 😉
Haha that’s such a great point, I didn’t even think of that! But yes it is really convenient and I’m really not sure why more people don’t consider this option!!
We do it with the really far out county transit systems – the bus drivers are always surprised that we’re on vacation as we’re riding around lol.
Have you heard of FlixBus? They are coming to America! I rode them from Germany to France and back again. For just a few euros I got a spacious seat, multiple outlets, wifi, and didn’t have to drive. When you add in the amount of time spent at the airport it was about the same amount of time for significantly less price. And it was only 30 minutes longer than the train, but at about 1/10th the price because I was booking last minute. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
Wow I need to check that out! I’m heading to Europe next month so that could definitely come in handy as my friends and I travel between a couple cities!
I’ll also be on the lookout when they come stateside 🙂
I haven’t taken the bus often but last year I needed to get from D.C. to New York City and wanted to keep my cost down. The bus was by far the best option. It was very comfortable and had wi-fi. The trip was a little longer than promised because of traffic but would definitely do it again.
Yes I think the DC to NYC option is great! Especially for the price, you can’t beat that. The traffic is definitely tough, the first time I took it I had to sit through a lot as well. The next time I booked I picked a time that was designed to miss most of the traffic and we got there on schedule!