Holiday Travel on the Cheap: Taking the Bus
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Holiday Travel on the Cheap: Taking the Bus

Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 at 8:00 am
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iStock_000015943655XSmallTraveling by bus isn’t one of the modes of transportation holiday travelers normally get excited about, but that has recently been changing. The surge in affordable busing options (ahem $1 fares!) has led to a jump in the number of travelers using the bus and for good reason! Not only have busing options been upgraded for comfort and safety (we’re talking WiFi, seatbelts, outlets, etc.), but the options and destinations have become endless. Discounted bus travel provides an economical option for holiday travelers going both shorter and longer distances without sacrificing the comfort of train or plane. If you plan on checking out bus travel, which we highly recommend, we’ve come up with some awesome tips:

1. Book in Advance

We can’t say this enough! If you plan on traveling during the peak of a holiday season you’ll want to book your tickets in advance. When researching which bus line you or your family will be using you’ll often see an advertisement for $1 fares. This, no doubt, should catch your attention. There are $1 fares for bus travel, but they are hard to come by. Usually there are only a few $1 seating options per bus and these cheap fares will go to whomever books first. So as time goes by the price of tickets on your desired bus will go up. Don’t be discouraged! Even if you don’t nail a $1 fare your tickets will be more than affordable. If you can’t book too far in advance you’ll want to travel at slow times or days. This means traveling in the middle of the day during the middle of the week will get you the best prices, whereas traveling on a mid-morning or afternoon on Sunday will guarantee you a pricier fare.

2. Travel Light

As you can imagine traveling on a bus allows for limited space, so it isn’t the best idea to bring lots of luggage. Since there is no extra charge for bringing carry-ons  or suitcases it’ll be easy to overpack, but we caution against bringing your entire wardrobe. Not only does every other passenger have to fit their luggage on the bus, but the more stuff you bring means the less able you will be to keep an eye on your belongings and the longer it will take to load and unload luggage. If you plan on carrying a piece of luggage be sure to keep it in your sight just in case.

3. Keep Yourself Occupied

We’re not going to lie, bus travel can get boring especially if you’re traveling a good distance. We suggest you bring a book, game, laptop, or something to keep yourself occupied. This is especially good advice if you’re traveling with younger children. When booking your ticket be sure to see whether or not your bus will have outlets or wireless internet. This information will be handy when planning what activities to bring along. You’ll also want to bring food with you when traveling. Some buses will make pit stops, but not all. Plus, if you’re traveling on a bus to save money, it doesn’t make much sense to waste it on food you could have brought yourself.

Don’t know where to start when looking up bus travel? We recommend starting with big names in the busing business to get an idea of what pricing is like. Check out the following:  Megabus, Greyhound, and Amtrak. For reviews of other buses and their unique services see Budget Travel’s “6 Best Budget Bus Companies in the US“.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.