Taking the bus can be a fantastic way to get from point A to point B, whether you're trying to save money or craving adventure on the open road. Based on my experience, bus tickets are usually cheaper than plane and train tickets, and often cost less than a tank of gas. So taking the bus can be cheaper than driving yourself — plus you get to relax and watch the world go by or tuck into good book.
- Most buses have free Wi-Fi, and some have personal power outlets so you can keep your devices charged along the way.
We partner with Megabus, Omio, Budbud, Flixbus and Eurail to bring you the best deals on bus tickets. As for the money you save, we recommend putting it towards snacks and coffee while you're cruising down the interstate.
How to book cheap bus tickets online
I've booked lots of bus tickets in my life, usually between cities like Minneapolis and Milwaukee or Savannah and Jacksonville, but also to big cities like NYC and Chicago. Here are some of my best tips for finding cheap bus tickets online:
- Be flexible with timing. This is the most important tip, because rates are almost always priciest for the most convenient travel times. If you're on a tight budget, leaving early in the morning or arriving late at night can save you money — just make sure you have a plan for transferring safely to your final destination upon arrival. If a friend or family member is picking you up from the bus stop, apps like Find My Friends and Gympse can help them track your progress so they're ready and waiting when you arrive.
- Shop around. Use sites like Omio, Wanderu and Busbud to compare multiple rates at once, filtering your search by budget, departure and arrival times and more. While you may pay a small booking fee on these sites, it can save you time to compare prices all at once — and you can always book directly with the bus after locating an itinerary that meets your needs.
- Check for local lines. Though Greyhound and Megabus have brand recognition, they don't always have the cheapest bus tickets compared to regional or local bus companies. If you're by a university or college, check to see if it runs a bus between major cities nearby. Often, these shuttles are open to the public and have cheap rates since their main customers are students. For example, the University of Wisconsin has a Badger Bus that goes between key cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- Look for specialty routes. A national chain like Greyhound or Megabus may not be the best option for going to and from the airport, cruise ports or popular tourist destinations. Compare prices with companies that offer private bus transfers to make sure you're getting the best deal.
- Don't forget about public transportation. It's always worth checking to see if public transportation can get you there, since tickets for city buses are usually cheap or sometimes free. For example, in Boston you can take the silver line for free from Logan International Airport to downtown.
- Book on Black Friday or Cyber Weekend. We usually see discounted bus tickets and other travel deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, Megabus gave out 200,000 free tickets to celebrate the retail holiday. While it's not guaranteed, you could save some dough by booking then.
If you're looking for bus tickets from an airport to the heart of a city, try googling "[airport] to [city]" instead, because there might be a private shuttle you can take instead of dealing with convoluted bus routes.
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.
Traveling by rail? Check out these cheap train tickets