In a perfect world where we weren’t constrained with a tight budget, we’d carelessly hop on planes and jet-set to our weekend getaways in the mountain cabins and warm beach destinations. But in the real world, where cash is king, it’s good to have a backup option for getting from here to there. Buses, which have seen a major comeback recently thanks to trendy lines and expanding amenities (Wi-Fi anyone?), are once again becoming the de rigueur travel choice. While there are quite a few bus lines that trek across the US, these five bus companies are the ones you should be boarding for cross-country travel.
The UK bus favorite has moved west to take over the Northeast section of the US — and with its marketing gimmick of giving away $1 fares on every trip, Megabus has unsurprisingly gotten a lot of attention. The company is noted for its spacious double-decker buses and was one of the first to offer Wi-Fi on board. The bus company still has a continuing promotion where you can get free or discounted trips by using the code “WOW200K” when checking out.
No longer does Greyhound conjure images of low-end buses and low-end travel. The company has spent the last few years updating its brand and rolling out swank new buses with added amenities like Wi-Fi and electrical outlets, and is one of the few bus lines that travels all over the US, with 1,600 routes. Greyhound also offers service between New York and Canada. For the best deals, search the “Web Only” fares, which traditionally range from $30 to $60 round-trip.
Bolt Bus is similar to Megabus, with cheap fares, Wi-Fi and bigger seats. The downside is that the company has very limited service. If you’re going to or from New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston or Baltimore, it’s a good option. The one thing Bolt Bus does offer that’s not so typical of bus companies is a rewards system, that gives you a free round-trip ticket for every four round-trip tickets you purchase.
Thruway Motorcoach is a subsidary of Amtrak and is available in cities with an Amtrak station. It’s designed to connect Amtrak passengers to train stations that don’t connect with each other, so tickets are only sold in connection with actual Amtrak train tickets. The service runs pretty much nationwide, with routes through the Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, Southern and Western areas of the US. Travel tip: California is blessed with the best routes, offering a great way to jaunt around to vineyards or take a bus trip along the West Coast.
Trailways not only offers bus lines to get from here to there, it also offers organized tours and group travel. The company reaches most of the continental US, but falls short in the Southeastern and Midwestern sections of the country, though it does serve parts of Canada. In contrast to some of the other updated buses, Trailways also falls a bit short with basic coaches and no Wi-Fi or outlets. But the price might be right for your travel budget.