8 Overnight Buses That Are Cheaper Than a Plane or Train

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Photo of a bus traveling overnight between cities.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

You snooze, you lose, is a cliche that gets tossed around a lot. But when it comes to saving money on travel, it turns out that’s not always the case. 

Sure, a flight will often get you to your destination faster than a bus. But when a bus ride to the same place costs you one-tenth of the price, the extra cost of that convenience becomes hard to justify. Even better, when a bus company provides an overnight route — their version of a red eye — you can drift into dreamland and wake up nine hours later, ready to tackle the day in some place new (and with more cash in your pocket).  

On Wanderu, you can compare bus, train and flight options all in the same search, which makes it especially easy to discover whether your specified route has a cheaper overnight option. In your search results, simply choose to sort by “Latest,” and make sure your filters are set to “Direct Trips Only” and “Buses”  in the left-hand menu, as in the following screenshot:

From there, you’ll be able to spot whether there is a cheap direct bus trip that can shuttle you through the night.  

To provide some examples of actual routes where an overnight bus is a comparative bargain, we dug into our own Wanderu data and pulled out these trips: Eight overnight buses (between 7 and 10.5 hours) between major cities that are direct (meaning they have no transfers), and are only a fraction of the cost of a plane (or a train, for that matter). 

In the tables under each route, we’ve listed the average price of a nonstop, one-way ticket for a bus, a train and a flight. That way you can see for yourself how much cheaper an overnight bus really is compared to other modes of travel. Just take a gander below.

1. Atlanta, GA to New Orleans, LA

Average Bus Ticket $12.50
Average Train Ticket $70.56
Average Plane Ticket $113.53

Cruise through the dark from Atlanta to The Big Easy.

Megabus has a service on this route that departs at 10:45 p.m. (arriving into New Orleans at 6:20 a.m.), and Greyhound has a service that departs at 11:35 p.m. (arriving into New Orleans at 7:55 a.m.).

NOLA is a city that parties from dusk till dawn, so catch some winks on the bus and you’ll be fresh and jazzed up by the time the bus pulls in.

Book Your Trip:

2. Boston, MA to Washington, DC

Average Bus Ticket $37.50
Average Train Ticket $139.10
Average Plane Ticket $130.69

The Northeast Corridor is known for expensive Amtrak tickets, and flights between these two hubs can kill your wallet.

Thankfully, Megabus offers a straight shot south that departs at 11:45 p.m., pulling into Washington, DC at 10:05 a.m. the next morning.

The nation’s capital is packed with awesome free activities (here’s our guide to 22 of them), so don’t waste away your daylight hours on travel.

Book Your Trip:

3. Chicago, IL to Minneapolis, MN

Average Bus Ticket $12.50
Average Train Ticket No Train Available
Average Plane Ticket $151.69

Come winter, air travel across the upper Midwest is plain unreliable: Flights out of both O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport are regularly delayed or cancelled due to weather. But while planes may be grounded, plows are out in force, making an overnight bus an excellent Plan B. (Or, even better, a much cheaper Plan A.)

Greyhound offers daily service that departs Chicago at 9:55 p.m. (arriving into Minneapolis at 6:30 a.m.), while Megabus has a regular route that departs at 11:59 p.m. (arriving into St. Paul at 8:10 a.m).

Book Your Trip:

4. Dallas, TX to Memphis, TN

A busy night on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.
Average Bus Ticket $16.25
Average Train Ticket No Train Available
Average Plane Ticket $127.90

Before you go walking in Memphis, you have to get there first.

Megabus leaves Dallas at 11:05 p.m., pulling into the Home of the Blues the following morning at 6:45 a.m.

That should allow you at least a few hours to stretch your legs around town before seeking out some of the city’s famous barbecue. 

Book Your Trip:

5. Denver, CO to Albuquerque, NM

Average Bus Ticket $59.99
Average Train Ticket $87.00
Average Plane Ticket $144.02

Ditch Denver for the desert on an overnight bus south.

Greyhound has a service that leaves at 7:30 p.m, arriving into Albuquerque at 4:10 a.m.

Too early? Maybe for some, but keep in mind that sunrise in Albuquerque is practically a religious experience. We hear that Petroglyph National Monument opens their Volcano Day trail just as the sun starts peeking over the horizon, meaning you can kick off your stay with an incredible view from the Albuquerque Overlook.

Book Your Trip:

6. Los Angeles, CA to San Francisco, CA

Average Bus Ticket $18.74
Average Train Ticket $64.15
Average Plane Ticket $99.69

If you own a Firebird and have nothing but time on your hands, then sure — slowly weave your way up the 101, shooting your cash cannon at the seagulls on Pismo Beach.

But if your name isn’t David Hasselhoff, then make more efficient use of your time and money by snagging the 11:50 p.m. Greyhound (arriving into S.F. at 7:20 a.m.), or the 11:59 p.m. Megabus (arriving into S.F. at 8:25 a.m.).

Book Your Trip:

7. New York, NY to Raleigh, NC

Average Bus Ticket $40.00
Average Train Ticket $126.79
Average Plane Ticket $137.00

Making your way to JFK or LaGuardia can be a trip unto itself before you even board a plane, while business travelers commuting out of New York City send Amtrak prices through the roof.

Fortunately for you, there are three overnight buses poised to carry you to Carolina: PandaNY Bus has a service that leaves at 9:45 p.m. (arriving into Raleigh at 6:50 a.m.), Wanda Coach has a service that leaves at 10:00 p.m. (arriving into Raleigh at 7:15 a.m.), and Greyhound has a service that leaves at 10:30 p.m. (arriving into Raleigh at 9:35 a.m.). 

Book Your Trip:

8. San Diego, CA to Phoenix, AZ

Average Bus Ticket $57.99
Average Train Ticket No Train Available
Average Plane Ticket $130.41

Heat has historically grounded flights in Phoenix, and that Arizona sun is strong enough to turn your bus into a sauna despite the A/C blasting. So why not make the trip overnight instead?

Greyhound has a bus that departs San Diego at 10:30 p.m., arriving into Phoenix at 7:20 a.m.

That should give you ample time to dash into a cool breakfast joint before those rays reach full strength.

Book Your Trip:

City-to-City With Wanderu

Normally there’s a tradeoff between slumber and productivity, but not in this case. Just pack your neck pillow, pop a melatonin and let the gentle vibrations of the bus rock you to sleep as you roll toward your destination. 

Even better, try the same trick in Europe: Sort and filter your search results accordingly so that you can snooze between Paris and London or Vienna and Berlin. You’re on vacation, after all — why waste your precious holiday in transit when you can commute overnight? 

Wherever you’re headed, consider booking your tickets on Wanderu. Compare routes, schedules and prices for ground transportation and flight options on Wanderu.com and the Wanderu app.

You are welcome to use the information on this page, crediting Wanderu. If you do so, please link back to this page so that travelers around the world can see all the data and find out how we came up with the routes.

Like what you read?
Spread the word:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
About the author
Tyler Moss

Tyler Moss

Tyler Moss has danced on tables at Oktoberfest and petted alpacas in the Andes. He prefers to eat at restaurants where the menu is in a language he can’t understand, and likes bars where the lighting is dim and the drafts are cheap. His writing has been published by Condé Nast Traveler, The Atlantic, New York, Outside, Atlas Obscura, Playboy and other fine venues.
keep wanderin'

Can’t get enough Wanderu? Then you might enjoy these stories too: