Don't Like To Fly? Short Of Funds? Try A Trip By Bus

Greyhound Bus Lines is one of the most well-known bus lines in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1914, Greyhound serves more than 3,100 destinations in North America. Before commercial air travel, traveling by bus across the country was one of the preferred modes of transportation. Today, even though most of us travel cross country on an airline or even by automobile, if your budget doesn't allow for air travel, if you're afraid to fly, don't have a car or the time to take a trip by car, or if you just want to see the countryside without being the driver, bus travel is still a popular way to get from one destination to another. And should you be travelling by train to a city that isn't served by Amtrak, you could find yourself on a Greyhound bus, departing the train station and arriving at your preferred destination. If you're thinking of travelling by bus, here is information for you to use, as you plan your trip by Greyhound. We include fare and ticket information as well as tips for planning your trip and the actual travel itself.

Before You Travel

Unless you're a truly free-spirited person with no destination in mind, the first thing to consider is where you're going. With more than 3,100 destinations in North America, chances are that Greyhound comes to the city you are planning to travel to, or at least close to it. To find out for sure, Greyhound's web site has a Station Locator. When you first enter Greyhound's web site, the first thing you'll probably notice is a form to complete with your departing and arriving destinations and dates of travel. If you already know that your destination city is served by Greyhound, fill in that city's name; if you don't know for sure, check the station locator at the top of the page. This allows you to find your schedule and bus fares. You can purchase the tickets online with a credit card, or purchase right at your bus station if it is one of the thousands which has a ticket counter. If you are able to purchase your bus tickets a minimum of ten mailing days before you travel, you can arrange for them to be mailed to you if you are using a credit card for the purchase.

Be sure to check the links for "Traveling by Bus" and "Baggage Information" as part of your planning process, especially if you've never traveled by bus before. You should know what luggage policy for Greyhound is before you arrive at the station, including what is allowable as far as items to be checked in or carried onboard the bus.

Bus Fares

Greyhound offers a variety of discount packages for bus tickets. Here are the highlights for the fare types offered:

Booked online and good for travel between selected cities, e-fares offer a great savings on bus travel between these cities. Travel as low as $12 each way between Chicago and Champaign, Illinois; $13 between New York City and Philadelphia each way; $20 one way between New York City and Boston; $22 each way between New York and Baltimore or Washington D.C., or between Chicago and St. Louis; $25 between Chicago and Minneapolis, St. Paul or Detroit. There are other cities at slightly higher one way fares. Round trip isn't necessarily doubled the one way fares--sometimes you may find that a round trip ticket is very little more than the one way.

Go Anywhere Fares
Buy your one way or round trip ticket from 7 to 14 days in advance of travel and ride for less. Based on mileage, you can get a one way ticket 14 days in advance for a destination less than 300 miles from your origination for as low as $29 if you travel Monday-Thursday, or $31 if you are purchasing the ticket 7 days in advance with the same Monday-Thursday travel. Prorated by miles traveled, the fare for destinations more than 2800 miles can be purchased for as low as $129 each way purchased 14 days in advance and traveling Monday-Thursday. Fares are slightly higher under this plan if you are traveling Friday-Sunday. Tickets are non-refundable.

Companion Fare
Traveling with someone else and able to buy your tickets at least 3 days in advance? The Companion Fare allows the second person to travel at a 50% reduction in fare from full price. Tickets are non-refundable.

Child, Student, Senior, and Military Fares
These are discounted fares with no advance purchase requirements. Children ages 2 through 11 traveling with an adult are eligible to receive a 40% discount off the adult fare; under age 2 travel for free when not occupying a seat. Students may purchase a Student Discount card for $20 and travel with a 15% discount off regular fares. Senior citizens aged 62 and older travel for a 5% discount from full fare. Active duty military personnel and their families may travel with a 10% discount off regular fares.

Miscellaneous Travel Tips

Traveling by bus certainly isn't going to be the same as traveling by train in many instances. If you are traveling between major cities, it's possible to get a through bus with no changes, and even express buses with limited stops. But for the most part, you will have many stops between your departure point and arrival destination. Let's take a trip from Portland to Mankato, Minnesota and see where we stop and where there are bus changes:

Typing in the departure and arrival cities, we get one choice for travel between Portland and Mankato. The trip will take just under 2 days barring delays. There will be two changes of bus enroute -- one in Seattle, the other in Billings, Montana. Now if you were traveling between Portland and Denver, you could get an early morning departure that would take you there without a change of buses.

If your travel by bus will take in meal times, you won't get served food on the bus as you would on an airplane or a train. But Greyhound builds into their schedules longer stops at stations where one can get a meal, as close to meal times as they can arrange. The buses are equipped with restrooms, but there are also rest stops enroute as well. To help pass the time, feel free to bring on board reading material, radio, CD or MP3 players with headsets, and your own food and non-alcohalic beverages. Greyhound buses are also air-conditioned, have reclining seats with headrests and footrests, and tinted windows. Sit back, relax, and leave the driving to Greyhound!

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