Updated: September 23, 2019
Buses are a great way to travel, with thousands of cities connected by bus routes. Whether you're considering traveling by bus for the first time or you're a seasoned traveler looking for the latest tips, check out our comprehensive guide on bus travel. In it, we cover the most frequently asked questions and provide advice on how to find the best bus ticket to your next destination.
You can buy bus tickets online by visiting each bus company’s individual website, or by purchasing through an online search site like Wanderu, which will show you fares from all the different bus carriers at once.
Some traditional bus companies, such as Greyhound, sell tickets at bus stations. Others, like Megabus, allow passengers to purchase a standby ticket if open seats are available (but that requires a credit card).
Wanderu is an online travel search site. We partner with hundreds of carriers in multiple countries to help travelers find the most affordable bus and train tickets.
You can find all the available schedules on your desired route and book tickets by searching directly on our website, www.wanderu.com.
For a step-by-step walkthrough for how to buy bus tickets online, visit our online booking guide.
Booking your bus tickets online is the best way to save money. Not only are prices cheaper the further out you are from your departure date, but booking in advance allows you to compare prices and routes from different bus carriers.
Purchasing tickets in-person at the station is often more expensive because bus companies charge a premium for same-day booking.
Bus ticket prices for companies like BoltBus and Megabus start off lower and get higher as the date of travel approaches. It therefore pays to plan ahead. You can expect to pay $1–$10 per person for a one-way bus ticket between two major cities, such as New York City and Philadelphia. In general, prices vary based on the availability of and demand for each specific route. However, traveling by bus is almost always cheaper than traveling via plane or train.
If booking last minute, expect to pay $15–$25 for a same- or next-day bus ticket. If you are traveling on a holiday weekend, be prepared to shell out $35–$45. And be warned: Buses regularly sell out for big holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, 4th of July and others.
Bus tickets are sold as individual, one-way fares, but on Wanderu you can purchase your return trip in the same transaction. To save money on a round-trip, consider splitting your outgoing and return rides between different carriers to find the best deal.
There are a number of different strategies you can employ to find cheap bus fares.
Wanderu lets you compare ticket prices from dozens of different carriers like Megabus, Greyhound, Peter Pan and Boltbus all at once to find the lowest price options for your route. The fares available on Wanderu are the lowest you’ll find anywhere, with no additional fees or markups, guaranteed.
Wondering where you can get to for $5? Looking for the lowest price vacation you can take next weekend? The Wanderu Explore search tool can help you find destinations from your city of origin based on your budget.
For additional tips on how to save money, read our guide for how to book cheap bus tickets as low as $1 in four easy steps.
Individual bus carriers may offer discounts, sales or special promotions via their websites. Below, find some of the most popular carriers and the types of deals you can expect.
Greyhound offers the following ongoing discounts:
Learn more about available discounts, deals and the Road Rewards loyalty program on the Greyhound website.
BoltBus offers the following ongoing discounts:
Peter Pan offers the following ongoing discounts:
Megabus does not offer ongoing discounts of any kind. Children of all ages must pay for a separate ticket at the same price as an adult ticket.
If you’re searching for tickets in advance, it pays to look at the bus carriers that start off their tickets at $1: Greyhound Express, Megabus, BoltBus and Peter Pan.
The filter function on Wanderu also allows you to sort search results by price to compare the cost of tickets from different bus carriers.
Most carriers have a "first come, first serve" seating policy, which means that passengers can sit in any open seat on the bus. It thus helps to arrive early at the gate, as those toward the front of the line have the freedom to sit wherever they want.
Some bus companies provide customers with a reserved, numbered seat. If you book tickets together (say, 2 or 3 at a time), the carrier will likely have your seat numbers in sequence so that your group is seated together. Other carriers, like Megabus, allow you to pick from a seating chart at checkout on their website, similar to how you would when booking an airplane ticket.
Keep in mind that picking out your seat in advance may incur an additional charge.
Each bus carrier has their own age policy. If you are under 18 years old and wish to travel on your own, or if you are a parent purchasing a ticket for a child, we suggest that you call the carrier directly to discuss age restrictions before purchasing, as most tickets are non-refundable.
The majority of bus companies do not allow minors to travel alone, overnight, across state lines or on trips that require transfers.
Since valid, state-issued IDs are required for boarding, some carriers require that a ticket for an underage traveler be purchased in person, at the station or directly over the phone by the child's legal guardian or parent. Other bus carriers may require a signed parental consent letter.
Each bus company has their own unique baggage policy.
The best way to understand the luggage requirements for your trip is to read over the terms and conditions provided on the checkout page before you purchase the ticket.
Broadly speaking, bus carriers usually allow one suitcase to be checked into the lower portion of the bus and one small personal item to be taken on board, included in the price of your ticket.
Some bus carriers may allow you to check two suitcases for free. This policy is often subject to space availability, and is more common for carriers that cover airport routes, such as Peoria Charger, Red Coach and Peter Pan.
Remember to properly tag all bags with your name, address, phone number and email, as most carriers waive responsibility for lost, misplaced or stolen items, and insurance coverage is limited. If your luggage is lost, we recommend you contact the carrier directly to file a claim.
The majority of buses are equipped with free wifi, although service can be spotty on occasion, especially in rural areas. To prepare for such instances, we recommend that you download entertainment to your laptop, tablet or phone in advance of your trip. Most vehicles also include power outlets so that you can charge your device if needed. For a more detailed list of amenities, find guides to our most popular bus carriers below:
If you’re still not sure how to find the best fare, we’ve got you covered.
At Wanderu, we bring together the best routes, schedules, and prices so your next inter-city bus trip is quick and affordable. Compare prices and schedules, as well as pick-up and drop-off locations, to find the most convenient itinerary. Below, learn about some of our favorite tips and tricks for finding the best deals when booking your bus tickets on Wanderu!
1. Book Early — It’s never too early to book your bus tickets online. By purchasing in advance, you’ll be able to secure the best price on a seat with your favorite bus company. We recommend booking five to six weeks in advance in order to lock down the lowest price on bus tickets from all major carriers.
2. Travel During Off-Peak Times — Planning your itinerary so that you’re traveling at off-peak times is a great way to reduce your transportation costs. Because weekends are so popular for bus travel, Sunday afternoon tickets tend to be the most expensive. To save, consider departing in the mid-morning on Sunday, or perhaps on a different day altogether. If your schedule is flexible then plan to travel mid-week, after the early morning commute. Mid-week tickets are frequently a cheaper option than riding on a Monday or Friday. Instead, start the weekend early with a Wednesday or Thursday departure.
3. Search for Nearby Bus Stations — If you’re traveling to a major city, you have different stations or local bus stops to choose from for your drop-off. Expand your bus ticket search to “include nearby locations” in order to find the lowest price. For example, if arriving in the most popular station is more expensive, look for an alternative bus stop near public transportation or a comfortable walking distance from a taxi stand.
4. Search Multiple Bus Companies — Whether you prefer the affordability of Megabus or the comfort of LimoLiner, everyone has a preferred bus company. Even so, expanding your search to multiple bus companies is a terrific way to land a deal on your next vacation. Wanderu allows you to compare fares from different carriers side-by-side in a single search, and even lets you book your return trip with a separate carrier to score a better price.
5. Follow for Special Deals — At Wanderu, we take pride in unearthing epic bus deals for travelers. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear about fantastic sales, promo codes and deals.